May 26

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Ease change by painting a picture of a better tomorrow

In our quest to solve problems and deliver value, the solutions often require people to change. The frustration of resistance gets mistaken for a lack of support or failure to understand instead of the more natural fear of change.

Change is hard, even for the folks who profess thriving on change.

Leaders can ease change — and even speed the process — by painting a picture of a better tomorrow.

Change is hard because we’re built to maintain homeostasis and preserve the status quo. Yet we also adapt, often in response to stimulus. It’s why we embrace change when the perceived discomfort of change becomes more attractive than the current pain we’re experiencing.

The key is understanding how perception affects change. When faced with uncertain change, fear makes the status quo seem more comfortable than the change. If you tap into their natural self-interest and help them see themselves and their situation differently, people can (and will) change.

Think of change as a journey.

If you don’t know where you are going, how will you get there?

We get excited about some destinations more than others. If we want to get people excited about the change, or at least less apprehensive about the process, describe the destination with an interesting story.

I call this painting a picture of a better tomorrow.

The choice of words is intentional: paint a picture that allows your audience to visualize a better tomorrow. Don’t worry if your drawing, like mine, is stick figures. Find the right descriptive words to create an inviting image in the mind’s eye and let people soak in the experience.

Painting a picture of a better tomorrow works for three key reasons:

  1. Help folks visualize the destination, creating excitement in what is possible.
  2. Stimulate folks to see their current situation through a different lens. A slight shift in perception – if only for a moment — allows them to see the better tomorrow as more desirable than their current condition.
  3. Remove the mystery and reduces the false perception of the journey through change.

Suggesting tomorrow is better is not an indictment of today. Sometimes we need to change, even when people like the status quo. It’s why we need to ease the process.

Successfully painting a picture of a better tomorrow gives people a sense of purpose. Allow room for the vision to develop and let people help fill in the missing pieces. Honor the experience and insight of the team to help everyone enjoy the process.

It takes some time and effort to paint the picture for people. In my experience, it makes for a more enjoyable and meaningful journey. With less friction and better support, you’re likely to speed the process of change, delivering value and getting ready to tackle the next challenge.


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