In the realm of change management, the ability to influence the design of change initiatives is crucial for success. However, it is not a straightforward process, and there are various factors to consider. This blog post explores the nuances of influencing change design, emphasizing the importance of building rapport, maintaining integrity, and avoiding common traps. By adopting a strategic and adaptable approach, change practitioners can effectively navigate these challenges and drive meaningful transformations.

Building Rapport: Serving Stakeholders’ Needs

One fundamental aspect of influencing change design is establishing rapport with stakeholders. Instead of becoming frustrated or defensive when met with resistance, change practitioners should approach the situation with curiosity and a genuine desire to understand the stakeholders’ perspective. By shifting the focus from “aren’t you listening to me?” to “what could I be doing differently to be more effective?” change practitioners open doors to alternative approaches that may yield better results. This process requires self-reflection and a willingness to set aside personal ego to truly serve the stakeholders’ needs. Deep rapport fosters trust and can lead to long-term relationships where stakeholders seek out the change practitioner’s expertise repeatedly.

Navigating Traps: Agility, Multiple Paths, and Avoiding Personalization

To influence change design effectively, change practitioners must avoid falling into common traps. One such trap is having a singular focus and believing that their current strategy is the only viable path forward. Maintaining mental agility and being open to exploring multiple strategies simultaneously can prevent credibility loss and provide alternative routes when faced with obstacles. Another trap to avoid is the desire to be liked and build rapport through friendship rather than focusing on the task at hand. While it is essential to build relationships, basing influence solely on personal likability can hinder effective change design. Finally, change practitioners must guard against taking things personally. Embracing the concept of assuming positive intent and recognizing that others’ actions may be influenced by external factors or competing priorities can help manage conflict and maintain productive stakeholder relationships.

Symmetry in Design Conversations: Bridging Knowledge Gaps

When seeking to influence change design, recognizing the asymmetry in knowledge and understanding between stakeholders is crucial. Change practitioners should strive to make the intent of the change initiative more symmetrical by engaging in open and collaborative conversations. This involves asking stakeholders about their decision-making process, understanding alternatives considered, and exploring trade-offs made. By adopting a consultative approach, change practitioners can provide more informed advice and recommendations, fostering an environment of shared understanding and decision-making.

Influencing change design requires a nuanced and strategic approach. By building rapport, navigating common traps, and striving for symmetrical design conversations, change practitioners can enhance their influence and drive successful change initiatives. It is essential to recognize the long game nature of change and the potential for relationships built on trust and integrity to yield future opportunities. Ultimately, change practitioners should embrace the complexity of influencing change design and leverage their expertise to create meaningful and lasting transformations within organizations.

You might find our white paper on How to Influence without Formal Authority of good use!