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It’s Not Just Business. It’s Personal.

June 8, 2010

When rules don’t stick, when people don’t do the things they are supposed to do (not you and me obviously), when someone doesn’t embrace change, we cite many reasons:  Too busy.  Too set in their ways.  It’s a political thing.  It’s the culture.  Procrastination.

I don’t believe these are really the reasons why.  For the most part, we are equally capable of being busy, resistant, political, or lazy.  Yet some rules are consistently followed; some programs are smoothly incorporated into the enterprise, while others never become “part of the process.”   I believe that, deep down, the number one reason new frameworks and directives don’t resonate is because they are not personally helpful to those who must follow them.  For example, the organization introduces a new program because of the tremendous value that will materialize for the company.  This value, while clear to the executives, is not directly beneficial to those who must support the program’s infrastructure day to day. So, for example, an effort to get better information will result in someone taking more time to input data.  When there is no perceived personal benefit, tangible or otherwise, folks are less likely to go out of their way to ensure the program’s success or follow the new process.  It’s human nature.

Is your initiative falling a little flat? If you are pushing and pushing, yet there is still not enough buy-in, consider this: Strive to make it personally helpful for every person involved in the execution.

Here are three ways to go about it:

  1. Find a way to work the plan so that every group benefits directly.  To be honest, “better information for decision-making” is absolutely critical for an organization.  But there MUST ALSO be personal and direct benefits to the person who will be spending more time to cleanse the data or the person who will oversee systems integration.
  2. Re-position the value message to each group:  Find what matters at each level and play to that (e.g., fewer manual re-work, better reporting, faster processing speed, etc.  Which of these matters?  Depends on who you’re talking to.).
  3. Better articulate the ultimate value to the organization.  We’re all part of the same organization so our interests should be aligned, right?

The bottom line is that everyone will support something that benefits them directly.

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The Back Office Mechanics Blog by Nancy Wu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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