How to introduce change to people not as hip as you

“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.”  ~Robert C. Gallagher

New technology is everywhere making everything from phone calls to group collaboration easier and more efficient.  However, even with all these wonderful improvements many businesses are still reluctant to use them to their advantage.  Where is this reluctance stemming from and more importantly how do we influence an unmovable object to get with the times?

Must… resist…. changgggeeee

Whether you have been hired as a consultant to help a client get up to speed on new technology or you are an employee trying to make a difference, we have all encountered times of confusion and heavy resistance to anything remotely resembling change.  Change can come in many forms from utilizing social media to using project collaboration tools get things done.  In my own experience, attempting to get a company to change its tried and true methods can seem near impossible.  It’s also extremely frustrating when people just don’t seem to be able to see all the benefits that a little bit of new technology can bring them.

Don’t think everyone is as hip as you

If you are reading this blog chances are you already have a much better understanding of technology than a majority of everyone out there.  In fact, being that this blog is fairly new and small you could consider yourself some kind of awesome hipster blog finder :-).  Being in the technology industry and staying in the “know” makes it very easy to forget that most people really are clueless about these developments.  This is especially true for people in older and more established companies.  People are creatures of habit and if things have gone along swimmingly for years, chances are despite how awesome your ideas are they will just slip back into the old way of doing things the second you have your back turned.

Steady as she goes

Let’s say you have snowboarded for years and the way you snowboard has been working out pretty well for you.  Now imagine someone meets you on the slope and tells you that you are doing it all wrong and need to change everything to be a better snowboarder.  Chances are that you will roll your eyes and continue doing what you have always done.  If they threaten to beat you up if you don’t do it their way you might do it when they are watching but the second they turn their backs you are back to your old ways.

Now say that instead they meet you and give you a small tip.  You figure you might as well give it a try and it works out for you.  Now you trust that person a little more.  The next time you see them they give you another tip and you figure you might as well try that one too.  Eventually you have now subscribed to the way they snowboard and you are better because of it.  Introduce change in small gradual steps and you will see much better results than if you introduce everything all at once. Also, don’t force people to do what you say. You would be surprised to find the number of people who will do the opposite of what you demanded of them just to spite you.

You need the decision makers on board.

Many times, initiating a new idea is like trying to push a car with its emergency brake engaged.  If you are persistent enough you might be able to move it a few inches but what you really need is a person in the driver’s seat to release that brake and let you move it.  If this is your own company, well this part is done for you.  If you are an employee or these are clients, you have to get the decision makers as excited about your ideas as you are.  They are ultimately the ones who will drive the idea that you are touting and hopefully that excitement will be passed on to the rest of the employees.  Just make sure that the message they are delivering is as clear and simple as possible.

In other words…

Don’t be too surprised to find that not everyone is as hip and awesome as you are.  Most people like sticking with tried and true methods and will actively resist any form of change.  However, if you get leadership on board and offer small steps to get to a larger goal you will see the results you want much faster than if you try to change people too quickly.

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6 Responses to “How to introduce change to people not as hip as you”

  1. Catherine Lockey
    March 2, 2011 at 2:16 am #

    Hi Patrick,
    When it comes to social, change is the norm. Those who can’t stand to change are losing right before their own eyes. As a social media marketer, I am only hired by those who see their need for change – thankfully, I don’t need to convince them.

    • Patrick Kent
      March 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

      You’re lucky! I have had mixed experiences but when a company or person refuses to get out of their comfort zone it can be extremely frustrating! Thanks for your comment!

  2. Deb
    March 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    Patrick, this is a great post. You are so correct! As a software protection company we are dealing with this issue on a day-to-day basis. Software developers hear and read so much incorrect information and it is difficult to convince them that our product is different and better.

    I am still surprised that people know that they need to lock their valuables with a key, such as their house and car, yet they have an issue with locking their software.

    • Patrick Kent
      March 2, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

      Thanks Deb! Sometimes it’s hard to relate to people not as tech savvy as you are. As a software protection site I’m sure you deal with people every day that think that their product is safe and doesn’t need what you offer… that is until their see it all over bittorrent.

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