Getting Your Boss to Change

January 1, 2011

You’ve been to an APICS conference, workshop or class. You’ve got all these great ideas how you can improve things in your company. You can’t wait to tell your boss what you learned and what you want to do. On Monday morning you rush in to see the boss and share your new insights. What response do you get? “We can’t do that. We’re too (big, small, rich, poor, busy, slow.)” ” That will never work.” “Great theory but who in our industry has really done it?” “They (corporate, owners, auditors, the union, or customers) will never allow that.” Sound familiar?

What do you do now? Go back to your desk with your tail between your legs and forget about it? Dream about what it could be like if you were the boss? Start updating your resume? All those work but if you’re willing to try to overcome that resistance, have I got a plan for you! This presentation will explain why the boss resists change and will identify specific ways bosses react when faced with threatening change. I’ll explain the specific tools and techniques and tell you a story about how I used these methods in a real situation.

Late in 2001, I got an email from the controller of a company I had worked with a couple of years before. It said, in effect, we’re finally going to make some of the changes you suggested. Are you available to help implement them? I was and within a week, we were deeply immersed in trying to change business practices and processes that had been in use since the company was founded 30 years before.

This company, who shall remain nameless for reasons that will be obvious, is basically a distributor. They do a lot of configure-to-order assembly of standard purchased subassemblies. There is no real manufacturing or complicated assembly going on. Their yearly sales were in the 20-30 million range and they usually have about 2 – 3 million in inventory.

It is a fact of nature that organisms only change when there is sufficient fear or pain. It is a fact of nature that companies only change if there is a significant emotional event threatening to bring real fear or pain. For the controller, the significant emotional event was the year-end physical inventory audit. The results hurt him in his most tender spot, his bottom line.

They had taken a net write off of over ten percent of the value of their inventory. Never in their company history had such a loss have to be reported in the year end financial statement. The weak profit that would have been reported was now going to be a loss. The controller had promised the president that it would not happen again next year. That’s why he called me. Net dollar impact is a lousy measure of inventory accuracy, yet it’s the only tangible number that most accountants understand. (Net dollar is the end result of netting the monetary value of the gains against the monetary value of the losses.) The real value of their loss was much higher than they cared to recognize.

The situation with this company’s inventory was not complicated. From my previous work with them I knew that they had no controls over issuing of inventory. When someone, anyone, wanted a part, they just took it, no paperwork, no data entry, no authorization. It was a self-service inventory system. Theoretically, inventory would be relieved when the customer was invoiced, theoretically. It didn’t work for a variety of reasons. It had never worked, but not everyone agreed that was a problem.

There were those who liked the current processes. It was easy to react quickly when a customer order had to ship in a hurry. In fact, it was the Director of Operations who was convinced that everything was just fine. His argument was that the inventory they could not for account was not walking out the door, was not really lost. It had been received and it had been shipped. Yes, inventory wasn’t being accounted for but that was accounting’s problem not operation’s problem. There was no need to change a thing.

The controller knew better but he had no power over his boss, the Director, who had been with the company from the start. The controller had only been there a couple of years. He was young and bright but knew he was going to run into stiff resistance to any change.

Implementing change in an organization, any organization, is a challenge. It’s an undertaking that fails more than it succeeds. The difficulty comes from two areas. The attempt to design a new process that is better than the existing process, and the attempt to get people to accept and embrace the new process. Anybody who has attempted to implement a new business process or new technology will tell you the latter, getting people to change, is the more difficult of the two. Often it’s the people at the top who are the most reluctant to change. So, how do we overcome your boss’ and other people’s resistance to change? Three steps: Understand the nature of that fear; identify the specific reaction to the fear; apply the tools that overcome the fear and get people moving.

Conventional wisdom says people fear change. That is not true. Most people like variety in their lives. They wear different clothes every day. They buy new clothes even though the old ones still fit. Lots of folks rearrange their furniture just to introduce a little variety in their lives. Many people like to go to new places on vacation. One time it’s north to colder climates, next it’s south to some place warm. We like to go places that are different from where we live everyday. If we live in the city, we may be likely to vacation in the country. If we live in the country, we want to see the big city. Change in everyday life is considered good. Why, then, do we believe that change in our work is bad?

It’s because many of us fear the unknown. We are afraid that the new system may involve loss. We may lose power, prestige, or position. We may fear loss of our ability to perform our assigned tasks. We may fear losing our place in the group, as an accepted member of the community of our fellows. When we perceive this potential loss, maybe even loss of our job itself, we feel threatened. It is this threatening change that we fear.

Test this idea in yourself. If you thought that some new way of doing business was going to change your job in such a way that everything you learned in school or through experience was no longer of any use, how would you feel? Everything you’ve done in the past is of no value to you now. THEY are giving you one week to learn the new methods or else. Would you feel good about the change? Would you help implement that change? Or would you do everything in your power to slow it down? Now, how would you feel if the new method guaranteed you a promotion, a raise, a bigger office and more time off? Would you now help to implement that method? If you’re like me and most other folks, in the first case you’d be afraid. Afraid for your job, afraid for your lifestyle the job affords you, afraid for your sense of accomplishment and you sure as heck wouldn’t help implement the change. In the second case you would feel completely the opposite.

When we feel threatened, we resist change. We fight it as if our very life depended on stopping it. Change resisted is change delayed. Change delayed may be change denied. While most changes we attempt to implement in the work place do not have the clear, obvious consequences laid out in the above example, people will make up their minds about the change as if it were that straightforward. In the absence of clear evidence of positive personal benefit, most people will assume negative consequences. That is why so many people resist all change in their jobs. To be successful in implementing new methodologies or any other change, we must understand the resistance and know how to overcome it. It’s as simple and as vastly complicated as that.

Using this thinking the controller and I sat down to strategize how to get new inventory control processes implemented over the resistance of the operations director. Step 1, understand the nature of his fear. We knew he must feel threatened but why. This is actually fairly easy to figure out.

The director had been with the company 30 years. He knew how to get product out the door using the current methods. As a matter of fact, he knew it so well that getting product out the door on time was how me made it be a director in the first place. His success was built on being the best at doing things the way they were always done. This is true of most bosses. They got to where they are doing things certain way. They may be the expert in that method. They definitely know how to manage the existing processes. They know where to look for problems, know where to look for answers and know what to do when something goes wrong. Putting in new processes would take that away from them. Bosses often think, “How can I manage if I don’t know how things work? If I’m not the expert, what is my competitive advantage?”

We knew that our ops director was threatened but we needed to know more if we were to be able to overcome his resistance.

When we understand where fear of change comes from and how it manifests itself, we are ready for the second step in overcoming resistance. In the second step we learn to identify specific behaviors that are the reactions to pending change. There is a continuum of reactions to change. These vary from specific styles of resisting to outright embracing of change. Understanding these behaviors is critical so we can progress to the third and crucial step where we address specific behavior using specific tools.

Reactions to change can be broken down into six specific behaviors.

  1. Flight
  2. Fight
  3. Doubt
  4. Explore
  5. Accept
  6. Embrace

These reactions represent a continuum of behavior. We tend to start at the low end and, with help and guidance, work our way to the higher level reactions. Each of the reactions has typical behaviors that we can observe. Our job as the change agent is to observe the behavior, classify the reaction and apply the corresponding tool that helps people move up the scale.

We initially react in one of two ways when we feel a change threatens us. The first position reaction to threatening change is Flight. People who resist through Flight may just not show up. They miss meetings and appointments. They find all kinds of excuses why something else is more important. If they do show up, they are late. When they’re there, they are distracted. They may not pay attention, drifting to thoughts of their own or doing other work when they should be focusing on the issues at hand. If they are bosses, they may just say they don’t have time to work your idea. It may not be obvious when we are dealing with Flight. Your boss won’t say he or she doesn’t want to deal with it. Your job is to figure out that’s what your running into.

The person who is in Flight has a plan or idea that they aren’t revealing. They have a hidden agenda. They may want to stop the project all together or protect some sacred cow. They work behind the scenes to impede progress. Look for someone whose attitude is sullen, suspicious, or apathetic. Typically someone with a hidden agenda would conspire with like minded others to bring about the results they desire. If it’s your boss, they might threaten you to go along with their ideas.

The second reaction to threatening change is Fight. The second position reaction is overt and visible. People who Fight, resist at every opportunity. They disrupt meetings. They are vocally negative to every idea. They may do whatever is opposite to the direction of the change. They give you all kinds of reasons why ‘it’ won’t work.

We inhibit the ability of the change to go forward when we adapt either of the first two positions. Whether we are resisting, we are not contributing. Our ability to learn is greatly reduced or is nonexistent, and we are certainly not developing creative solutions to the issues arising around the implementation of the new methods. When resisting or running, we take no responsibility for producing positive results. The implementation of a new system or process will be delayed and maybe destroyed if even one key person takes either of the first two positions.

When we get past Fight, we start to Doubt. When we are working our hidden agenda or when we are openly hostile, we are sure we are right and that we know what we’re talking about. We start to Doubt that we have all the answers when we are willing to admit that there might be a better way. This is a positive first step. If we admit we don’t know, then we are open to other ways. But we can’t allow ourselves to get stuck with the uncertainty. We must move past this stage if we are going to be positive contributors. People who Doubt that they know what to do are indecisive and act evasive. You can’t get an answer from them. They tend to deflect questions and avoid making decisions. They infringe on others, asking for help or constantly questioning. People in the Doubt stage are slowing down your efforts by not fully contributing to its forward progress.

If we can move past our Doubt, we begin to Explore the possibilities. When we start to Explore, we can see new ideas and new thoughts drift to the surface. We aren’t clear yet so when we are in the exploring stage we may appear cautious or distant as we test new ground. We require time to think about things before offering an opinion. This is a great improvement if we started in Flight or Fight, but we can move further along the continuum and become more positive and productive.

To Accept change is the reaction of someone fully engaged in helping implement the change. In this stage we appear cheerful and admiring of others who support the desired ends. We are clear on what needs to be done and how to get there. We are productive. We may even take a role in facilitating the change when we Accept the change.

To Embrace change is the highest stage in our reaction to change. We welcome change and are enthusiastic about it because we see the opportunities change brings. We reach out to others and help them make the transition. We share what we know and what we learn. Feeling empowered by change ourselves, we seek to empower others.

It can be a long journey from taking Flight to Embracing change. We need to take it one step at a time. If we are trying to make the journey ourselves, we would do well to seek guidance and support from others. If we are trying to help others evolve, we need to know what to do to overcome the obstacles that keep people locked in the lower ends of the scale. Remember the first identify the reaction, then select and apply the corresponding tool.

The Controller and I analyzed our resister. He wasn’t saying no way. He told the controller he could proceed but to minimize the impact and cost of the project. A couple of times, the director called meetings of his staff when we had already scheduled meetings with the same people. Based on the fact that he was not confronting him directly and that he was making members of his staff unavailable, we decided he was in Flight mode. The lowest level on the change continuum. He was resisting but he wasn’t overtly fighting us, yet. Later we would wonder if moving him out of there to Fight was really such a good idea.

Good basic change management practices can help people start to move out of their starting position. Overcoming inertia is critical in the early stages. If we want to help people see the opportunity in the change, we have to explain why we’re changing, what we’re changing to and what the change process will be like.

Tool # 1: The Kick Start. A good technique to help people appreciate why we’re changing is to raise the level of discontent with the current methods or processes. Raising the level of discontent will help people want to change because you get them to agree the current method isn’t perfect. You can start raising the level of discount by clearly documenting the current process. A picture is still worth a lot of words, so a process map is a great tool here. Call a meeting of key players from all the areas affected by the proposed change. Make sure you include all the people you expect to fight the change. It is also critical that this group is cross-functional, representing all areas, especially those that are known to have issues with each other. Use this group to create a map of the current process. At each step along the way write down on a flip chart disagreements about how the current process works. These are the people who live this process everyday. They can remember everything that ever went wrong. They know every time another department didn’t do their job and it affected them. Take advantage of this knowledge and experience. After the initial draft of the process map is completed go back through and ask the group what kinds of problems, reworks, delays or complaints they have experienced for each activity in the process. Write these down on a flip chart also. When a page is filled, stick it on the wall and start a new one. Do not just turn it over on the easel. The problems must be visible. Using this technique you can easily fill a conference room’s walls with flip chart pages. When you’re all done, ask everybody to sit back and look around. All the problems are visible for them to see. The shear volume of them will create some level of understanding why you’re changing. They will probably agree that something must be done.

Now, if it is known, you can identify the new process, new system or new technique that you’re changing to. Explain, in as much detail as possible, what the changed state is going to look like. Use specific examples, screen prints, reports or other appropriate visuals that help create a clear, tangible picture. Highlight how it’s going to solve most of the problems they have identified. Pick some of major issues off the list they’ve created. Show specifically how that problem is going to be resolved. If the new process or system isn’t known, you can start to design it to solve the problems. It is critical that people understand what their world is going to look like when the transition is complete. The more they have a clear vision of the proposed end state the less fear they will have.

The next step is to let people know what to expect during the transition. How will we be making the change over? Who will be involved? How long will it take? How much will it cost, if that’s appropriate to share. Let everybody know what the steps are for getting us from the current state to the proposed state. Be clear about roles and expectations. Identify what they can expect to come up as issues during the transition. We all want projects to come in on time, on budget and with perfect results. Haven’t seen one of any consequence yet that did all that. So admit up front where the risks are. Use benchmarking to identify these risks. Surprise is the surest way of making people nervous. Strive to eliminate all surprises by sharing as much data as you can up front. If you’ve done this, when the issues do arise they will not cause the same degree of consternation they would have if they were surprises.

We used the Kick Start tool very effectively to address our inventory problems. We started by setting some high level objectives for making process changes. Our list of objectives included things like improving customer service, and reducing cost. Notice we did not say improve inventory accuracy. That’s the how. The Kick Start tool requires us to explain the ‘why’ first. Having identified the ‘why’, we called together the people who worked with the current process. We developed our process map and listed the problems. We created a list of 68 problems with the current process. We cross referenced the problems to the objectives and prioritized the list so we could go after the big things first. We, the controller and I did not identify the 68 problems. We facilitated the people who owned the current process to develop the list. And it was easy. They knew exactly what was wrong. They had never felt that anybody cared or wanted to change. All we had to do to get this long list was ask and give them a method to organize what they knew.

The director of operations did not attend any of these sessions, his people did. Listing the problems with the current processes did a good job of raising the level of discontent through out the organization. The boss certainly heard the rumblings. Next we called an executive meeting. We had the president, top VP’s and all directors in the meeting. The controller showed the brass what we had done and the results. As a group they were impressed. This meeting completed the last step in the Kick Start Tool, we built a coalition. Building a coalition is particularly important when trying to get you boss to change. You can try it on your own but that’s dangerous. Get all the people you can to join forces with you. Our coalition started with all the people who attended our process mapping sessions. These people now understood the problem and the possible solutions. Remember these people worked for our target. The company executives became part of the coalition after we presented to them at the status meeting. The target of our efforts, the director of operations, did not say a word during the meeting but that meeting unexpectedly moved the him out of a Flight response. You know where he landed. He came out swinging. We didn’t even have to use the tool designed to move people out of Flight but I’ll explain it anyway so you have this tool in your tool box.

Tool #2 Idea Mining. Flight, not dealing head on with the threatening change, may be the most frequent reaction of people confronted with threatening change. People in Flight have a issue, concern or an idea they’re not sharing. It could be an idea to make something happen or to prevent something from happening. Whatever is unrevealed is hidden. We need a tool to help reveal these hidden thoughts. The tool used to uncover hidden agendas is called Idea Mining. Idea Mining can be used by the person with the hidden agenda who is looking for some way to reveal it or by someone who is trying to discover the hidden agenda of another. Let’s use the example where I believe you have a hidden agenda. I came to this conclusion by observing the way you react when we are working on implementing the new system. The Idea Mining would work like this.

Step 1: I get clear about what I need from you. I think through my needs, and why I need these things. I form a clear, mental picture of what I want and what it is worth to me. I plan out what I’m going to say to you so that when we talk I’m clear and concise.

Step 2: In a completely non-threatening manner and place, I tell you what I need. I reveal my agenda to you. I take the first step. I show you an example of how agendas may be revealed. This sets up the opportunity for you to reveal your agenda to me. People are always more comfortable being the second one to open themselves up. I go first showing you that I’m being honest and open.

Step 3: I ask you what you need or want to fulfill my need or support my idea. I listen very carefully, without interrupting, to your response. I use active listening, repeating back to you what you said you need or want. When you say I need ‘X’, I say, “So to support my idea you need ‘X’. Is that right? Is there anything else?” I listen again repeating the cycle until you have stated everything you need or want. When you say there is nothing else, I repeat back one more time the complete list. “If I provide all of this then you will help me with what I need from you?”

Step 4: If it is in my power to do everything you asked for and I judge that it is worth it to me, I agree to provide what you need. If I must go get permission or the support of others then I tell you that’s what I’m going to do and promise to get back to you by a certain time or date. Either way, your list of needs and wants were your hidden agenda. I now know what the issues are. Your agenda is no longer hidden!

There are many variations of what to do given the response of the other person in this scenario. Given the limited length of this article, I can’t cover them all. What’s important are the first three steps. Whether you are trying to reveal another person’s hidden agenda or trying to reveal your own needs and wants, these steps are the same. It is in the handling of the response where the variation comes in.

Like I said, we didn’t need to use Idea Mining. After the meeting with the executives, the director came out swinging. He started his offensive by calling the controller into his office for a little chat. The controlled related to me later that we was told in the strongest possible language that the director of operations did not appreciate the controller and I telling the VP’s and the president what we were going to do to change the way operations worked. “I’m the Director of Operations! I decide what and how thing run,” he said. After that face to face, the director called me into his office for the same kind of chat. That was my opportunity to use the tool designed to deal with resistors who are in the Fight stage.

Tool #3 Beach Ball Communication. The most visible technique of resisting change is to Fight. We all have seen countless examples of people in this stage of resistance. A boss in the Fight stage seeks to destroy the perceived threat because of his or her own fear of loss. The person who is Fighting may appear to on the offensive but is really defending the status quo. Effective communication is impossible. The Fighter isn’t listening. He or she is formulating rebuttals as you speak. Conflict exists because there is a position and an opposite position. Resolution can occur when the parties see a possibility that includes both positions.

Visualize two people facing each other with a multicolored beach ball between them. They are arguing about the color of the ball. One person can only see the red and white colors on the ball. The person sitting opposite can only see the blue and yellow colors.

They are both arguing that they know what is right. It’s plain to see if you just look at the facts. From their perspective, from where they sit, they are right and the other is wrong. Using this analogy, we use the tool called Beach Ball Communication to overcome adversarial resistance to threatening change. We use Beach Ball Communication to remove the threat by communicating in a way that includes all positions.

Step 1: Move off your position. Try to see things they way the other person sees them. Using the beach ball analogy, get up and move around to their side of the beach ball to see what they see. You may learn a lot. Remember what Steven Covey says in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand then to be understood.”

Step 2: Help them feel that you understand their position. You can do this by duplicating what you hear from them. Repeat what they say with the same emotion they feel. This is not agreeing or giving in. It is re-creating their position so you understand it and so they know you understand it. Many times a good part of the problem is that the other person does not feel anybody is listening to or cares about his or her issues. Many times we dismiss our adversary without really understanding them.

Step 3: Repeat the process of receiving, duplicating and feeding back what they are saying until they acknowledge they have been heard. Half the battle is over at this point. They agree that you understand them. By listening and duplicating their position you have gained new information that may change your own view. You still know the beach ball is blue and yellow on your side, but you now see the red and white on their side of the ball as well.

Step 4: Invite them to come around to see the view from your side of the beach ball. Present your position along with the insights you got from hearing theirs. The former adversary will be much more willing to listen and understand having first felt heard and understood.

The conversation started the same way it had with the controller but without the same degree of anger. (One of the benefits of being the outsider.) I was reminded who was in charge. Then I started to use the Beach Ball tool. I asked him why he was opposed to making the changes that his own people thought were necessary. That’s Step 1. He told me. I used active listening skills to make sure he knew I heard and understood his issues. That’s Step 2. I kept asking him if there was anything else until he said no that was it. I recapped his issues one more time so I was sure I understood and he knew I understood, (Step 3). In a nutshell, the director was concerned about the cost of making the changes, including the cost of me, and that the changes would slow down the operation, affecting customer service. It was now my turn to tell him how I saw things, Step 4. I told him why I thought the changes needed to be made and addressed his issues. I basically assured him that we would do everything we could to see that we kept the cost down and did not impose overly restrictive controls. The end result was that he agreed the project could continue on those terms.

The Beach Ball tool had moved him out of Fight but we weren’t sure if he moved to Doubt or Explore. We need to wait and see what he did next. We had completed the list of problems and had designed the new processes. It was in a all-hands meeting where we were telling the company employees what we were going to do different that we saw the boss’ reaction had changed. He let us complete the presentation. As we were getting ready to close the meeting, he got up to speak to the group. He told his people that we were allowed to implement the proposed changes to the business processes but that all capital spending would have to come in later. Slowing sales had restricted the company’s ability to make investments. Our chief resistor no sounded like he was in the Doubt stage and our job would be to move him further along the reaction continuum.

Tool #4 Goaltending: The person who is in the Doubt stage is unwilling to take responsibility for results. This person is usually afraid of failure and the disapproval that will accompany that failure. They don’t act unless specifically directed to do so. They won’t make any decisions unless they can blame the results on someone else. They lack a clear focus or purpose. To move past the Doubt, we have to get clear about what needs to be done and how to do that. Goaltending is the tool to accomplish that end. Like all the other tools in our toolbox, Goaltending can be self applied or applied by a mentor/supporter.

Step 1: Look at the current situation. See what needs to be done. Commit to accomplishing a goal. This goal should be one that is a stretch, but not so difficult as to appear impossible. The goal should be in the area of discomfort, for that’s where the transformation must take place.

Step 2: Visualize that goal accomplished. Create a clear picture of what it will look like when it’s complete. You may want to physically create this picture so it’s more tangible. Draw a picture; cut a picture out of a newspaper or magazine; use computer graphics; do something to make it real. With a clear image of the goal accomplished, now you need to add emotion. Imagine what it will feel like when the goal is reached. Imagine and feel the joy, the satisfaction, and the pride you would expect to feel. See the picture and feel the emotion of the goal completed.

Step 3: Now look backwards from the completion and see the steps it took to get there. Write these down. Looking backwards is the key. Looking forward we tend to see obstacles. Looking backwards from imagined completion we see the step immediately proceeding success. Looking back from there we see the step that led to that. And so on backwards until we see the first step that must be started.

Step 4: Turn this list of steps into a plan. Each action that must be taken is given a date we plan to accomplish it. Work this plan. “The universe rewards action,” says Jack Canfield. It is through the work that we will accomplish the goal.

When the indecisive person sees that they can produce results in the area that they were threatened by, they feel less threatened. Each new accomplishment lessens the threat until they are confident and move out of the Doubt stage.

The Goaltending tool can be used on an individual to help them see that they can succeed or a business process to prove that the business can succeed. We used the business process approach. Step 1- we looked at what needed to be done. We saw that our goal was to make improvements in the inventory control processes with out spending money on capital improvement. Step 2 – we visualized how we could issue inventory without actually building a storeroom. Step 3 – we actually visualized the actions people who needed inventory would take by using the looking backwards technique. Step 4 – we created and executed a plan. We proved that we could actually transact inventory movements with out affecting operations too much by using backflushing.

We went on making small improvements, one step at a time until we accomplished all we could given the “no capital spending” restriction. In doing so we were essentially using the next tool. Again we were apply the tool to the company as opposed to an individual. It works either way.Tool #5 The Road Map To Achievement: We have dealt with Flight, Fight and Doubt reactions to threatening change. We can now talk about what to do for people who evolved past those stages and are emerging into the productive, proactive supporters of the change. We use a tool called the Road Map To Achievement to help these people move through Explore, up to Accept and beyond Embrace. The Road Map To Achievement builds on what we did with Goaltending. We now give people a way to duplicate the positive results they achieved. When they know they can be successful accomplishing what needs to be done in any situation, their fear of change vanishes. The Road Map To Achievement gives people a formula to achieve anything they want.

Step 1: Build trust of self. Identify and acknowledge your strengths. Take an inventory of what you have to offer the world. Write them down so you have a permanent record of what you do well. Make a list of everything you have accomplished in your life. These are great documents to have around. Every time you get scared, you whip them out, read all the good things you are and have done. It’s like a shot in the arm.

Step 2: Focus on your purpose. Companies typically have a vision and mission statement and maybe a list of corporate values. People should too. Create a personal mission statement. List the things that you value: self, family, religion, health, honesty, etc. These lists help you focus on what’s important to you. They act as the stars that you navigate by.

Step 3: Emergence of ideas. Look around. What needs to be done? Caldwell Williams says, “Everything that needs to be done is either labor, love or praise.” What labor, love or praise is needed in your world? With your mission and values to guide you, take initiative to discover what is needed. With your inventory of what you have to offer, discover your ability to provide.

Step 4: Commit to goals. Pick something worthy from the list of things that you discovered need doing. Put together a plan to accomplish that goal. Use the Goaltending technique of seeing the steps backward from completion. Write down the steps and give them a due date.

Step 5: Affirm and visualize your success. Create a word level and picture level affirmation. The word level affirmation is a statement you write describing the completion of your goal. For example, “I feel great because I have reached my sales quota every quarter in 1999.” The picture level is a visual image of the goal accomplished.

Step 6: Take action. Execute your plan; get things done. Remember, “The universe rewards action,” not good intentions.

Step 7: Respond to feedback. Remember when ou were a kid playing the game where somebody was trying to find something with their eyes closed and you told them they were getting hotter or colder? You will receive the same kind of feedback as you move toward your goal. Be open to it. Look for it. Respond to the feedback you receive.

Step 8: Persevere. Stick with your plan. Make modifications based on the feedback but keep moving forward. Never give up.

Step 9: Acknowledge the results. Tell the truth about the outcomes. Did you do what you set out to do or did something change along the way? Thank your sources. Who helped? Thank them and praise them. Treat yourself. Have a little celebration. Your subconscious will remember the fun of the celebration and help you get there again next time.

The Road Map To Achievement helps people succeed. When they succeed, they gain confidence. With confidence, fear shrinks. When fear shrinks, resistance is replaced with cooperation. In the case of the director of operations, the controller’s boss, we overcame his resistance by proving that we could accomplish our goals repeatedly and regularly. We gained his confidence so his fear shrunk. Business never did get better so we were never able to implement our original plan but next year there will not be the same level of problem with inventory accuracy.

Overcoming resistance to change is a lot of work. Whether we’re overcoming our own fear or helping others overcome theirs, we must go through the three steps: Understand the nature of fear; identify the specific reaction to that fear; apply the tool that corresponds to the reaction. The work is worth it. People who evolve to the Accept stage or beyond to Embrace are more productive. They learn new ideas and concepts more easily. They are proactive in contributing to the implementation. We can assure success in implementing change if we can get everybody to move up the change continuum.

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