With Change Intelligence, product managers can influence more powerfully.
Everyday innovators see innovation opportunities frequently — making products better, improving processes, creating a new product, and solving problems. The word innovation can be phrased as “in-a-new-way.” It is a good reminder that we are making something new that did not previously exist.
That means making changes, and most groups and organizations struggle with change. For innovators, that’s a tension — we are about making change while the organizations we work in are largely about resisting change.
To help us understand how to help people make changes with us, I invited Dr. Barbara Trautlein to join us again. She is an Organizational Psychologist who has helped many leaders and organizations get better results by navigating change. She is also the creator of the Change Intelligence, or CQ, system, which she teaches others and wrote about in her best-selling book Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:
[3:52] Why is it hard for organizations to change?
Just like our immune systems protect us from harmful invaders, “antibodies” in organizations protect us from external threats. An organization wants to remain stable in a turbulent environment that’s filled with external threats. However, sometimes that goes too far and we begin to attack good ideas. It limits our ability to absorb new ways of thinking. We need to find a way for stasis and adaptability to co-exist to create meaningful change. The Chinese symbol for change represents both crisis and opportunity, and I think that’s how organizations view change. People like product managers see an opportunity, while executives tend to see problems and things that could be problematic.
[7:28] What does neuroscience say about change?
When neuroscientists put electrodes on people’s brains, they see that change makes the same neurons fire as when we feel physical pain. Change is literally painful for our brains, and that’s where some of the immunity comes from. Knowing this can empower us as change leaders by showing us that resistance to change is a normal, natural response.
[14:52] How does John Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model work?
The eight steps are:
- create an urgency for change
- form a powerful coalition
- create a vision for change
- communicate the vision
- remove obstacles
- create short-term wins
- build on the change
- anchor the changes in corporate culture.
Kotter later wrote the book Accelerate about his realization that we now live in a time of constant change, and managing change must be more iterative. With all these methods for managing change, 70% of organizational changes still fail. One reason is a focus on change management and project management, which are necessary but not sufficient. They are all about a step-wise model–the idea that if we carry out all the steps, we will have effective change. But because change is so turbulent, we need not just change management but change leadership. We are all leaders, so we need to build change leadership capability in ourselves, our teams, and our organizations.
[19:47] How can personal leadership be used?
Within your organization, it is important to know both the organizational chart–which officially delineates authority–and the organizational x-ray–where decisions are really made. Research by French and Raven discussed power bases. We have organizational power bases in our formal roles–authority, reward, and discipline. We also have personal power bases–expertise, information, and goodwill. These sources of power can all benefit us, but over-relying on organizational power results in compliance while more heavily wielding personal power results in commitment.
[24:43] Since change management is necessary but not sufficient, what pieces need to be put around it to make it sufficient?
The tools and spreadsheets of change management are important to lay out an effective plan for the change, but the missing ingredient is change leadership. The brain perceives change as a threat and invokes a fight-flight-freeze response. Oxygen is sucked away from our brain, so change literally makes us dumber. When we feel threatened as change leaders, we try to influence people with our dominant responses that we have used in the past. We lead with our strengths–our head, hands, or heart–but because everyone has different needs, one style of leadership doesn’t convince everyone. Resistance can give us information to help us adapt our style of leadership. Behind every complaint is a request. Change intelligence is the ability to adapt to resistance. Building CQ is like putting on your oxygen mask–when facing resistance, you have tools other than your dominant response. The most effective change leadership tool is asking powerful questions to get information about others’ perspectives to design an influence strategy.
- Change Intelligence certification program
- The Change Intelligence ADAPT Tool
- Barbara’s company, Change Catalysts
- TEI 141: How product managers can better lead change – with Barbara Trautlein, PhD
“‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ is not necessarily true. ‘If you can dream it AND make others dream it, you can do it.’” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Evolve book
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.