Lying and Proof In Times Of Change

The temptation at the airport was just too much for me. I had resisted for at least 30 seconds, partly because I didn't want everyone in the boarding area seeing me as an imbecile when I touched the freshly painted column just to see if indeed the paint was still wet. Finally, not caring what others would think, I did it... I touched the column! And NO, it was not wet. They lied to me.

Many of you reading this are now coming to the defense of those who had painted the column, saying, "Well, they just hadn't had a chance to come back and take the signs down." My response... it doesn't matter. They said it was wet and it wasn't. (I know-I need to grow up and not be such a brat about such trivial things.)

Putting my immature behavior aside for a moment, there's is an important principle about change to be learned here: People will most always test the need for change. They may nod their heads in agreement, but until they have some type of proof that change needs to occur, they haven't resolved the conflict in their mind. And until they have the proof they are seeking, they won't bring their full resources to bear on making the change successful.

If you are "hanging up some signs" in your organization that change needs to happen, remember that people want proof. Be prepared by having answers to the following questions:

  • What do you know? Give them facts, statistics and data that let them see that the status quo isn't a safe place to be (It never is, actually).
  • What do you think you know? Offer them insights from your experience and the experience of others whom they trust or respect that signal a need to change.
  • What do you NOT know? This is really a two part question. One part is highlighting uncertainties or variables that you have no facts or little experience to determine what might happen next-and how waiting to change after those elements are available might be too late. The second part is related to transparency. Acknowledge that you don't have all the answers, but that some of them will become clearer as steps in a new direction are taken.
  • Why now? Think of every individual or group that will be affected by the change. What's a sense of urgency that is specific to their team or role within the organization. Don't just make blanket statements like "Our competitors are already doing it." Be specific to how NOT changing will have a more negative impact on them than changing.
  • What's the pain for you? Those who are being asked to change need to know how your work routine or skill set is going to change as well. They want to know that you're on this journey with them.

Saying change needs to happen may be a clear sign to you, but others want to recognize it for themselves before believing it.