Curiosity is essential for effective change management

Introduction

Agile Change Management is all about creating new and different ideas. The Agile approach means ideas early in their development are given out to the business for them to try. Their feedback is essential in furthering the concept and adding more features.

But…I am starting to wonder how many of us are really ready for the feedback. After all, it is usually a mix of praise and criticism, too often weighted in the criticism:

  • It doesn’t do what we agreed!
  • Where is feature X?
  • I thought it was going to replace Y but now it doesn’t look like it will?
  • It doesn’t connect with Z so we will need a manual process to record that data!

Does this sound familiar? It is hard to seek out feedback but if it is to be useful, I have to do it with a mind-set of curiosity.

Curiosity

I must start the process with a genuine interest in what I am going to hear. And to get the most useful feedback, I need to hear different perspectives. I need courage to move past my usual contacts and find a more diverse range of voices. After all, the more different the person giving the feedback is to my experience and background the more likely they are to bring fresh eyes to the issue.

I have just finished reading the excellent book Becoming by Michelle Obama where she comments “sameness breeds more sameness, until you make a thoughtful effort to counteract it.” She was talking about Whitehouse staffers but it is equally true of all those we work with.

My efforts to counteract sameness involve a conscious effort to acknowledge my experiences and seek out those with different ones. Unless I am very honest with myself about my background, my achievements, my path in life, it is hard to acknowledge the existence of anything different.

Look for your opposite

A lot of my clients are trying to encourage this self-assessment on unconscious bias training, which does appear to the be the trend of 2018. My take from it is “look for the opposite” as that seems like a good place to start:

  • I look for people half my age.
  • I look for people without degrees.
  • I look for people who have changed industries multiple times.
  • I look for people who have worked for the same employer for decades.
  • I look for people who have lived and worked in different countries.

So as we move into the holiday period and put on our reindeer sweaters (OK, just me then!) I want to set the following challenge. Go and make new contacts!

Start engaging with new people

Make a conscious effort to engage people in conversation in the lunch queue who you don’t know. Ask where they are working and what they do. Take yourself to another part of your building and introduce yourself to new colleagues. Ask to be a guest speaker at other people’s team meetings so you can share what your team are up to with other parts of your business.

Engage customers and suppliers in conversation and ask them what their priorities and challenges are for next year and tell them what you are working on. Find out if there are common areas of interest and a chance to collaborate.

Conclusion

I know it all sounds like hard work but everyone has the new year in mind and this is a great opportunity to talk about what has been achieved this year and what is coming up for next year. In other words, you already have a conversational “in” so go out and use it.

Connect with me for more regular ideas sharing about change management and transformational change.