11 Observations on How Groups Decide to Change

  1. People have a tough time deciding to change. Until they don’t. When their dissatisfaction reaches threshold, they make the decision to change very quickly.
  2. It is difficult for groups to make decisions. The more dysfunctional the group, the more difficult it is to gain consensus. The more aligned the group, the easier it is for them to reach consensus. An aligned group doesn’t have to have unanimity.
  3. In some groups, a powerful leader can pretend to gain consensus by holding meetings and allowing people to pretend to be part of the process. They know they are pretending. This provides you a glimpse into your future.
  4. The most vocal person in the room is often the leader, but isn’t always the most influential person. The person in the group that leaders and others ask questions is often the most influential.
  5. The person who remains quiet in group meetings is often the person who is most vocal when they are with a single person outside of a group. This secret agent can very quietly sabotage a change effort.
  6. The fewer people with a compelling reason to change, the less likely it is the change is made. People have a difficult time understanding how another person’s compelling need to change is also their compelling need to change.
  7. The number of people required to approve change increase in proportion to the size, the complexity, and the risk of that change.
  8. People who are left out of decisions often oppose a decision to change because their needs were not considered. This is true even when there is no reason for them to oppose that change.
  9. It is still possible for one person with authority to make a decision to change. When a decision is important to a larger group, the execution of that change is more difficult in proportion to the number of people who were left out of that decision.
  10. Some groups have trouble making a decision to change rely on an outsider to make the decision for them as way to eliminate the messy process of building consensus. This doesn’t eliminate many of the challenges, but it does sometimes allow the change to occur.
  11. When helping a group change, and outsider will sometimes unknowingly and unwittingly be used as a pawn in a proxy war. The outsider may be unaware he is making enemies.

Filed under: Building Consensus, Sales 3.0

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