Progress is slow and change is hard. We hear this about people, institutions, places, attitudes, and cultures. However, when it is forced upon us, change happens rapidly, and it is hard to remember the old way of doing things.
For example, some people get a very abrupt wake up call about the power of exercise and the importance of a healthy diet once they have their first heart attack or bypass surgery. After years of resisting change, they suddenly are the most devoted members at the gym and loyal shoppers at Whole Foods. Change was thrust upon them, and it suddenly became important.
Sometimes change is a positive, but it is still abrupt. When a couple has a baby, it is frequently the most wonderful day of their lives. After months of anticipation and people warning them about how much their lives will change, the happy parents get a very big dose of reality on the topics of sleep deprivation and constant diaper changing. Change was thrust upon them, and there was no going back.
There are some people that love all forms of change and unending progress. However, for those of us that live on planet Earth, we must manage it. One of the things that great leaders and coaches can do is to remove as well as add friction where appropriate.
Removing friction means making it easier for people to adopt a new behavior. If you want people to eat more fruit and vegetables, have them peeled, cut, and available. If you want them to eat less candy, put it in a vending machine located in the cold, dingy basement of the building.
Adding and removing friction to encourage change is a powerful tool. A philosopher named Guillaume Ferrero argued that people will adopt whatever behavior takes is only 20 seconds less difficult to start. Think about the people you know (and yourself) and be honest about whether or not the Principle of Least Effort applies to most of us.
Here are your to-dos:
- Identify the one behavior on your team that MUST improve and create friction to encourage it (e.g., if you want all team members to prepare for each meeting, require them to send in their input on their ranked topics for discussion in advance)
- Identify the one problem in your team dynamics that MUST stop and create friction to discourage it (e.g., if team meetings go on too long, hold a stand-up meeting with no chairs)
- Identify existing paths of least effort and blaze new ones
Team dynamics require diligent change management. Let us help you figure out the first step.