book review: How To Change the World
I’ve just finished reading the excellent e-book “How to change the World” from Jurgen Appelo and I’d like to share some condensed thoughts about it here.
The book is about change management, starting from a simple question:
Don’t you like the environment you work within?
the author offers you a series of tools to help change the environment we work within.
It’s NOT easy, nor simple: you have to deal with Complex Adaptive System, made by people (=not pure rational behaviour involved).
Appelo suggests to use four framework for each aspect involved:
people: ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement)
network: Adoption Curve model
environment: Five I’s model
Not yet bored? Good! Let’s see each proposed “tool”.
It’s a simple iterative improvement process based on scientific method:
- set a goal for people to change (Plan), show example of good/desired “destination”
- define few critical moves (Do)
- get rapid and measurable feedback (Check) in order to adjust your moves
- after validated your moves you can speed up the path (Act) privileging quick wins
More info here.
People take a crucial role in every organization, so deal carefully with them. Appelo proposes a goal oriented model (ADKAR):
- show people your vision about the change (Awareness), effective communication is crucial and not easy
- pick an emotional trigger in people heart about the change in act (Desire), show the urgency of the change and lever with people intrinsic desires
- awareness and desire are still not sufficient, are people able to perform the change? Teach them, assist them, guide them during the change (Knowledge)
- ability to perform something is acquired by practicing it, create room for practice (Ability)
- celebrate each small win, this enable a reinforcement loop that boost people willingness to keep on (Reinforcement)
More info here.
Adoption Curve (network)
Generally changes start from a small group of supporters that grow by the time (we do hope). When such group reaches a critical mass, the change start to self-reinforce. The bell-shaped adoption curve is composed by several “categories” of people:
- initiators: the first “guiding coalition” that supports and spreads your changes. Invest the right amount of time on them
- innovators: choose them carefully and find out what motivate them
- early adopters: find them in “opinion leader” groups, and people more connected in the social structure you are operating in
- early majority: here you start having some problem… it is not easy to reach large group of people that - simply - don’t care too much about your change. There is not a simple solution, a part to find a “viral way” to reach them
- late majority: skeptics are everywhere, especially in this group. From them you’ll receive a lot of criticism… and you should use it wisely: don’t engage in fights but use the negative feedback to improve
- laggards: the final step of resistance. Be warned here: don’t cry victory too early. After change started to be adopted keep analyzing people behavior.
(4+1) I’s (environment)
Environment constraints and influences how people behave. Starting from this assumption we can tweak the environment in order to favor people to change behaviour. Here the author present the 4 I’s model (proposed by van Vugt) augmented with another I:
- information: we should radiate information in the environment to help people be aware on what is going on; also foster interaction between people helps.
- identity: people are social creatures; helping building a team identity is crucial, peer pressure can have a dramatic effect on a single person behaviour
- incentives: focus on behaviour (not outcomes!) and in small amounts (not necessarily money).
- infrastructure: behaviour is determined by people AND the situation they are acting. Removing some barriers in the situation, or favoring some “paths” over others, can give big results.
- institutions: often than not rules are necessary. The trick is to avoid crazy-rules and favor, for example, communities of practice with emergent self-imposed rules.
As you can see is a lot of material, a lot of “starting points” from where you learn and improve a lot, but the book is short and easy to follow. If you are/would-be a change agent have good luck because the journey is not easy!
Personally I’ve found it really useful also in retrospecting past change processes where things didn’t work as expected. Now I can see the past with different eyes and improve future change programs.