In this magical digital age of clouds, streams and lakes, there is an apt to hyper-focus on the product and less on the people involved, including stakeholders who are invested in the success of your delivery. That long list of stakeholders starts with your customer or bucket of customers that all have different personalities, definitions of success and varying interests. Another bucket are your partners and subject matter experts that are critical to the project and typically are engaged more than anyone to drive design and quality forward.
To deliver a new product or service successfully, you first need to understand your human landscape and have a plan to work with each resource as effectively as possible. Each step of the life cycle involves human decisions, human collaboration, human communication, and human dynamics–the cart doesn’t build itself.
Before you start a project, it’s important to not only identify your stakeholders but how they will be involved, what is their impression of the journey ahead and how they could impact progress if they are engaged or disconnected. Even further, it’s critical to identify those who may pose as a resistance and how much influence they could have on decision making. But first, it’s helpful to understand common reasons why we even have resistors.
- Fear of the Unknown– Some people are conservative in nature and are not as comfortable as others when trying or experiencing new things.
- Perceived loss of power– New solutions or services can create new subject matter experts and diminish the perceived expertise of existing players; a common resistance factor is related to those who either implemented the old way or have made a comfortable living using the old system and implementing a new system now disrupts their comfort level, career path and perceived job security because they feel like they may be replaced or considered less valuable.
- Lack of understanding why the change is happening– A lot of the time, the new system or product is rolled out without first explaining to everyone why.
- Lack of trust in people facilitating the change– If new people are involved in implementation, it may take time for existing resources to trust them because they are not familiar with them and their skill sets.
- The perception that change is not necessary or possible– Some people think things are going well and so why change them. But, in reality, they may not be aware of the current system shortcomings; some folks have seen change before fail and don’t believe it will be a success again.
- Threats to values and ideas– Some people may disagree philosophically with the new strategy and so the new product may threaten their values they believe in and/or counter ideas they have.
- Lack of Executive Buy-in– One of the most damaging resistance factors are key sponsors or executives not ‘buying in’ and thus, influencing others including their own departments to be less hopeful and positive.
Understanding the driving factors of resistors helps you plan a way to work through them and around them if necessary. The resistance rarely disappears unless it is factored in. Only after you have a better feel for your human landscape, can you develop a plan to address it.