With previous post, I hope I motivated you designers to think about why you need to become a change agent. From my recently visited executive program on change management, I found there is a great deal of learnings for designers.
Your given role and your organizational context play an important role, but there are things you can do as a individual. I would like to share vital personal learnings as first 2 steps to become an effective design change agent.
Step 1. Pay attention to the ‘process’ of a change, not only the ‘outcome’.
Driving change always has two asepects – the ‘outcome’ and the ‘process’ of a change. (Vibha Gaba, Professor of Organizational Behaivor). Often change initiatives fail, not because people do not agree to the desired outcome you want to achieve, but because of the way the process is managed.
How often do you advocate the importance of design (the outcome)? How much time do you spend to understand your stakeholders’ context and why they resist to the change (the process)? If you spend time only on the outcome aspect of a change, you might have a tunnel vision. The first step to become a change agent is to pay attention to the people and the way you manage the process. Break your tunnel, and work on the shared vision.
Step 2. The process is about ‘influencing’ people. Use different sources of influence.
Change is about influencing individuals. We often think that being influential is the exclusive arena for naturally gifted people (oh, how much I envy those people!). It doesn’t have to be that way. Robert B. Cialdini identified six principles to master persuasion in his Harvard Business Review article ‘Harnessing the science of persuasion’. I found following four principles are especially relelvant to in the context of design management.
- Liking – Uncover real similaries and offer genuine praise.
- Authority – Expose your experience; don’t assume it’s self-evident.
- Social proof – Use your peer power whenever it’s avaialble.
- Reciprocity – Show how your design solve their problems.
Aren’t you perhaps using only one kind of source too often? Consciously use different sources of pursuasion to influence people.
Be a design change agent: I know it’s easier said tha done. I would love to get your feedback what your steps / tips are to be a powerful design change agent!