Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Rate of Adoption of Change by Types of People

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(see graph below)

Research suggests that

. Novelty chasers tend to chase anything new and these people comprise a statistically small group ‐ usually 2.5% of the total population. These novelty chasers are not usually very influential as they are very receptive to all new ideas and are seen as mavericks within an organisation

. Typically, ideas move to the early adopters who represent around 13.5% of the total. This group of people is very important as they are usually the opinion makers/leaders, ie they represent the most respected people in the organisation. They need to become the champions of the change process. and have been described as the opinion-makers, enablers, people of influence or influencers, achievers, true believers, doers, gatekeepers, "movers and shakers or shapers", go-getters, etc for the rest of the organisation, ie they make things happen and have credibility in the organisation. They are not necessarily senior managers; they might include an administrator who knows what everyone gets paid, the catering manager who talks to everybody at lunchtime; the foreman who is an informal leader on the work site, etc. Some of the characteristics of this group are that they are more literate, more rational, cope with uncertainty better and have higher personal aspirations than the rest of the organisation. They provide the powerful social influence that pushes others over the hill from awareness to adoption. In any change process, this group of people can make or break a transition, and as a result need to be on side. In other words, you can have the most brilliant strategy imaginable but unless these early adopters are on side, the change will not work.

. The idea then is adopted by the early majority, representing around 34% of the total

. Then follows adoption by the late majority and adopters, representing around 34% of the total

. The remaining 16% are the laggards or diehards or CAVEs or terrorists or saboteurs or naysayers or deadwood !!!!

Most old organisational cultures have a disproportionately large number of "fence sitters", ie late majority and late adopters.

People in the categories of early majority, late majority and laggard, are more deliberate, skeptical and traditional than the novelty chasers and early adopters. The rest of the organisation will not be convinced by direct contact with new ideas. Only interpersonal contact with those already close to them will interest them in trying the new thing.

There is an important sequence to follow.

For novelty chasers to influence the adoption of new ideas, they must link up with the early adopters. The earlier adopters are people who recognize that something is wrong but don't know what to do about it, and are actively seeking a better way. The late majority, late adopters and diehards will not accept a new idea directly from a novelty chasers. It has to go through the process of the early adopter endorsement first. Furthermore, timing is important. The organisation, or part of it, needs to be receptive to new ideas.

Some other skills and traits that these change agents (early adopters) will need are flexibility, goal setting, positive thinking, team building, willingness to take responsibility, participating in team work, objectivity, ability to gather support, commitment, effective networkers, good leadership and communication, tolerance, rapport builder, courage to be different, able to analyse the process of change, capacity to challenge the norms, intelligent risk taker, educator, able to handle uncertainty, imaginative, intuitive, organisational awareness, negotiator, a sense of humour, shared success, compassionate, creative thinker, integrity, respect for others and self-motivation.

Some of the tactics they will need to employ to keep the change process on track:

"...1. Examining and reporting on approaches to the same issues in other work areas for other enterprises

2. Identify problems (possibly revealed in order reports, work performance measurements, etc)

3. Communicating customer complaints to key decision makers

4. Surveying staff and customers about particular services, products, issues, etc

5. Developing various options for handling a particular issue and demonstrating their benefits and advantages (raising the issue regularly at meetings)

6. Promoting interest in the issue for informal conversations (perhaps promising further information to interested people)

7. Working through traditional channels

8. Lobbying outside bodies for individuals who care about the need for a change strategy

9. Using existing information as evidence of the need for change (perhaps publishing the findings in a memo or article)

Dennis Hall, 2006a


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