For many years, I believed creating the best plan would lead to successful adoption of change–the better the plan the better the outcomes.
What I now know is that the goal isn’t to create the best plan; the goal is to create a good plan that people will own and implement. The problem with the 100 percent “perfect plan” is that there is no room for people to contribute. Without providing inputs, people often feel that change is being done to them. This can lead to resistance, or worse, indifference.
I remember defending one of my perfect plans to the detriment of its execution. Being technically right increased my ownership and decreased it in those who were being tasked with implementation. My inflexibility contributed to lukewarm execution. I had sabotaged the plan without knowing it.
It is essential that people are given opportunities to provide input into change programs and implementation. People must see their fingerprints on the change before they devote themselves to following it. The 80 percent plan creates room for participation and co-creation, which leads to a pride, confidence, capability and ownership.
Here are some tips on how to gain buy-in for change through contribution:
- Refer to your plan as a “draft”
- Set up a team to review the plan
- Include a member of each group that is adopting the change
- Demonstrate you are actively listening to feedback by asking open-ended, clarifying questions
- Explain why some points of feedback will not improve the plan—don’t make a change that will not improve the outcome
- Acknowledge when an approach is better than yours—it’s a win for the person who came up with it
- Identify contributors by name: “Alka suggested that teams that work together should attend training together.”
- Attribute success to the team—this encourages future contributions and successful changes
Buy-in and ownership are essential for successful change. Providing room for reflection, creation and contribution build a sense of purpose, commitment and resolve to do things differently. People must want to change themselves.