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Again this week, I thank you for being here! A few summers ago, I visited a client who was struggling with her digital transformation. He’d spent millions of dollars creating training plans, customizing his offices, and redesigning his corporate image. It was July and they hadn’t even been able to meet the goals they’d set for January.
For some inexplicable reason, the organization’s resistance to change was enormous.
Managers were stunned. They suspected it was the profile of the people they were hiring and concluded that the individuals they were hiring were all useless. Managers reviewed the entire hiring process and made several adjustments. Teams took over applicant interviews, which led to the implementation of a new protocol to determine if applicants matched the desired profile.
Still, the change initiative was slow. In an effort to improve the situation, the company decided to hire six people who worked from headquarters. While this didn’t help, it did create a better work environment because the remote employees brought in team members they already knew and worked well with.
One day, when I was talking to employees who were responsible for developing a key piece of an internal software component, I discovered something pretty impressive: The teams in this department were proud of the module they’d introduced years ago, but the change plan was to scrap it!
In doing so, they were sabotaging, albeit unknowingly, the company’s change plan. In different areas of the company, they’d built dozens of obstacles that hindered the plan.
As you can see, Psychological Ownership can become a problem when people are asked to create solutions they can be proud of, but are forced to discard them after a few months or weeks. How would you feel if you were told to give up everything you’ve worked so hard for?
In agile companies, we work hard to create more value for customers and show greater commitment, but we don’t teach people to get rid of their creations (physically and psychologically).
Any company that demands high engagement and excellence and provides products for markets with exponential change could jeopardize change if it doesn’t know how to handle such situations.
“In agile companies, we work hard to create more value for customers and show greater commitment, but we don’t teach people to get rid of their creations.”
Leading Exponential Change, Erich R. Bühler
The Ownership Culture Survey (OCS) states that managers and middle managers tend to place little importance on psychological ownership. As a result, situations and strategies aren’t developed that allow people to break free from their creations. To achieve this, employees must find a systematic and safe way to emotionally connect with the loss – and do so with transparency.
According to several scientific papers, people value everything that’s already theirs twice as much.
Anything that’s new should be valued more than twice as much as what’s left behind. It’s hard to let go of a cell phone, a house, a project you’ve worked hard on, or your role in the company.
According to several scientific papers, people value everything that's already theirs twice as much.
One technique is to conduct specific sessions to make the problem visible. You can use games and role-playing to help people discover and develop a plan for letting go with a positive attitude. I like the idea of holding celebrations when a new change plan is implemented or at the product launch stage. Here we explicitly praise what’s left behind and congratulate those who were involved.
Can you see any kind of psychological ownership in your organization?
As you can see, there are many things to consider when starting a change in the company, and many of the answers lie in science. So I invite you to take your career to the next level. At the end of this newsletter, you’ll learn more about where you can take our science-based Enterprise Agility courses.
I want to invite you to three very special events. The first will be given by our Certified Training Partner in Europe Irena Pavlovska. She’ll be talking about an important tool for leaders based on organizational psychology and neuroscience.
The second event is in Spanish and will be held in celebration of Women’s Month. Our female Certified Training Partners in Latin America will talk about leadership and agile transformation from a woman’s perspective.
Last but not least, I’d like to invite you to the Organizational World Talent event next week, where Dr. Sebastian T. Vetter, a specialist in innovation, will talk about his powerful innovation models for companies.
I’m pleased to announce that in March we’ll continue our Certified Change Consultant and Certified Enterprise Agility Leadership Programs in various parts of the world. If you’re in a time zone near the Trainer, we invite you to connect with them and give your organizational change career a boost!
From Enterprise Agility University, we hope you found our scientific newsletter useful, and we’ll see you next week.