Have you been frustrated in not being able to make the changes you wanted in your organisation? Or perhaps you finally made the change after a few false starts. It could be that you had the wrong people involved in leading the change.
Not everyone thinks and acts in the same manner when change is upon them. We need to understand the six types of behaviours and apply this knowledge when selecting members of teams who are involved in making changes.
Everett Rogers from the University of New Mexico was the first to introduce the term early adopter. Earlier adopters are important when making changes because they build on and pick up the work that innovators do. When studying the agriculture sector, Rogers recognised five phases in the lifecycle of adopting new products or innovations. First there is the innovator, then early adopters, followed by early majority, late majority and finally the laggards.
Lindy McKeown at the University of Southern Queensland has adapted Roger's life cycle before applying it to the update of ICT within the teaching profession. She uses a pencil metaphor to describe the types of teachers who need to learn new skills. There are six types of people recognised. These same six people behaviour types McKeown found in the education sector are equally applicable to any organisation undergoing change.
Let me describe the six behaviour types you will find when making organisational changes using McKeown’s pencil analogy.
The Lead, or leaders are the early adopters. They are the first to take on fresh ideas and are usually enthusiastic about what they have learnt and eager to share it with others.
The Sharp Ones. The sharp ones are the people who see what the earlier adopters have done. They grab the best ideas, learn from the mistakes others have made and apply it to their situation.
The Wood. These people would (i.e. wood) use the new ideas of somebody would just come in and set it up for them and then would keep it all running for them as well. All this type needs is help from some sharp person and they would be able to do it too.
The Ferrules. The Ferrules hang on tightly to what they already know, the old system. They keep a strong grip on the traditional approaches and processes and feel that there is no need for the changes that are being proposed.
The Erasers. The Erasers do everything possible to undo much, if not all, the work done by the leaders to implement change.
The Hangers-On. These people know all the right language, they say all the right things, attend all the seminars and training, provide all the reports that suggests they are on board with the change. While giving the outward appearance that they are on board with the change, the only problem is that they aren’t and don’t actually do anything to help with the implementation..
It is important that you recognise the different types of people in your organisation before you begin implementing changes. When working with a group where a significant proportion of members are Ferrule, Eraser or Hangers-On types, implementation is always going to be difficult. By adding a strong Lead and a number of Sharp Ones this will restore balance in the team necessary to achieve the planned change. Setting up a team with this knowledge of these six behaviours can often mean the difference between successful implementation and total failure.
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