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Proof Squared

There’s something missing from almost every one of the change rollouts I’m asked to look at. It’s also usually the difference between “Hell Yeah!” and “Yeah, Nah”.

The gap is particularly prominent in restructures… in fact, tell me if this sounds familiar:

For whatever reason, the organisation needs to restructure. So, a restructure team is spun up and they then run a bunch of ‘engagement sessions’ to ‘get people on board’. The team then disappears for 3-6 months while everyone wonders what in the world is going on. Then BANG! out of nowhere a brand new org chart is released and is due to go live in 2. Weeks. Time.

This of course leads to the usual responses of “what did you even do with what I told you?” and “you’re missing xyz! You don’t know what you’re talking about!”.

“But Brendon”, you may ask, “they engaged their stakeholders?! What did they miss?”

To explain it, I want to point you to a change we’re all watching happen in real time: Generative AI. (Don’t worry, this isn’t yet another commentary about the promises and perils of AI).

The recent explosion in Generative AI is adoption on a mass-scale, so we change leaders need to be watching and paying attention. In the last 2 years AI tech went from being an interesting idea to being a worldwide novelty. That novelty is now being invested in by very deep pockets to help it transition to become very serious tech. As a solution, it has traversed past a huge inflection point – an inflection point driven by a novel usefulness that we all got to experience first hand.

We were hooked.

Generative AI had the missing piece: Proof of capability.

Proof of Capability means proving 2 things:

  1. To trust a project, your people crave some form of proof of solution capability (i.e. “yes, this will work for me”). For Generative AI – we all got hands on, and very quickly proved to ourselves that the solution was capable.
  2. To trust a project, your people also need to trust that you’ll actually be able to get it done. After all – we’ve all seen great intentions and fancy plans go nowhere. Success is the exception, not the rule. The companies behind these surges in Generative AI did this by proving consistency (sites generally stayed live & functional) and iterative improvements were steady and public (e.g. ChatGPT4, Midjourney v5, etc.)

So, take a moment and sanity check your change rollout strategies. You’re probably building interest by telling people about it (or even engaging them in workshops about it), and you’re probably planning to roll out some training too. However, there’s a step in between those – proving capability.

Question Time

How are you proving to your people that the solution is right and that you’re capable of making it happen?

Here’s a few tips:

* Get them hands on.

* Make your early results and feedback loops known. Expose known faults to build trust.

* And for crying out loud – don’t be a mysterious black box project. Show progress, warts and all.

Brendon Baker

Brendon is a leading expert in strategic framing and inside-out change. He has led and guided over $11 Billion in transformative projects and programs, from transformations to teddy bears. He is the author of the best-seller Valuable Change, and niche top seller Creating High Value PMOs. Brendon now spends his time helping leaders cut through the noise to focus on what matters; working with them to create new realities.

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