Organisational Change Management Volume 2

27. Some Tactics for Changing Minds

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(especially representational redistributions)

According to Howard Gardner (one of the world's leading experts on thinking), there are 7 levers for persuading others to embrace new ideas

i) reason - present all relevant considerations for an idea, including its good and bad points

ii) research - provide numerical and other information about your idea's ramifications, or data relevant to your idea

iii) resonance - you and your ideas are convincing to your listeners because of your track record, effective presentation and sense of your audience

iv) representational redistributions - deliver your message in a variety of appropriate formats. Such formats may include engaging narratives (stories); startling numerical information; logic; reasoning; graphic depictions, such as charts or cartoons, humour, demonstrations and simulations, vivid descriptions of enticing or disturbing scenarios; existential (asking the big questions); aesthetic (examining instances in terms of the artistic properties or capturing the examples themselves in works of art); hands-on (looking directly with tangible examples); cooperative or social (engaging in projects with others where each makes a distinctive contribution to successful execution).

Furthermore, 2 important outcomes result from representing a topic in several ways:

i) people learn in different ways, ie some people learn better from stories; others from social or artistic entries

ii) conveys to the staff the idea that topics can be conceived in more than one way

Most importantly, embody the message in your own behaviour. By delivering your message through a mix of formats, you increase the chance of your audience understanding your idea. Thus there is a greater chance of your audience being able to let go of firmly entrenched notions and embrace new ones

To achieve the appropriate mix of formats, you need to understand the types of intelligence characterized by your intended audience members. These types of intelligence include

- linguistic (have a strong faculty with spoken and written language)

- logical mathematical (understanding causal relationships and numerical information)

- spatial (forming and manipulating spatial representations in one's mind)

- bodily-kinesthetic (solving problems using whole body or fine motor skills)

- interpersonal (working effectively with and influencing others)

Some questions that are useful to help identify the types of intelligence characterized by your audience include

- who seems to understand customers' needs best?

- who learns most by reading about or discussing new ideas?

- who appears highly responsive to factual and numerical information?

- who cannot resist playing with product demonstrations?

Furthermore, use informal focus groups. Ask participants how they prefer to solve problems and learn. Invite them to describe incidents in which they could not understand a new idea that someone else presented, and explain why the communications failed

"... you can learn a lot from things that don't work with a particular person or audience..."

Howard Gardner quoted by Lauren Keller Johnson, 2004

v) resources and rewards - draw on resources to demonstrate the value of your idea and promote incentives to adopt your idea.

vi. real world events - monitor events and their consequences in the world on a regular basis, ie daily; if required, use them to adjust, modify, etc your approach.

vii) resistances - identify and understand the basis to any resistance (conscious and unconscious); in addition to diffusing resistance, recognise the value of resistance as a way of improving your change process.

In summary

"...examined from the broadest perspective, one can identify characteristics of mind changing that cut across these various each case there is an original ideational content and a contrasting perspective, which I term a counter-content; the ideational content may be a concept, a story, a theory, or some kind of skill.......recorded three other elements: the nature of the audience involved in the mind changing endeavour, the particular format (e.g. intelligence, medium) in which the content is presented, and the factors (our seven levers of mind change) that lead, or thwart, the change from the original to the new content - that is, that determines whether or not a tipping point has been reached. Those who think in terms of multi-dimensional spaces will realize that I have taken into account a dizzying set of dimensions..."

Howard Gardner, 2006

(sources: Lauren Keller Johnson, 2004; Howard Gardner, 2006)


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