Friday, December 17, 2010

Meet Kris Kringle, change management specialist

This year one of my colleagues (thank you Rachel) suggested a very clever tweak to the office Kris Kringle;   we were to buy a gift for our designated recipient as if they were 10 years old so that the gift would then be donated to a children's charity. We not only had fun imagining our colleagues as children (not a stretch for some), but chose our gifts knowing they were going to someone who would really value them.

This version of Kris Kringle reminded me of the change management principles outlined in Chip and Dan Heath's Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard, and here's why;

Script the Critical Moves by outlining specific behaviours
Our Kris Kringle instructions were very clear - "buy a gift under $20 for your colleague as if they were 10 years old" - much more effective than as abstract "buy something for a children's charity".   In change management, people need to know what they specifically need to do.  Paint the scene for them.

Find the Feeling to engage the heart
To get us into the Kris Kringle spirit, we brought in photos of ourselves as children. Aside from lots of laughter, this helped to inspire our choices of gift because we remembered what is was like being a child.  For change management, finding the feeling means capturing the heart as well as the mind, tapping into an emotional reason to be part of the process. 

Point to the Destination
We knew when we were buying our gifts for our colleagues that the ultimate recipient would be a real-life child, so we were able to make the purchase decision knowing our audience.  In change management, it's not good enough to focus on the detail of the change - it needs to be always in the context of where you need to end up.

Shrink the Change
If the task for me and my colleagues had been to solve the problem of disadvantaged children in our community, we would have been overwhelmed.  Instead the Mother Teresa principle came into play (ie  If I look at one, I will act) - in other words, we were simply asked to buy a gift on behalf of a colleague from which one disadvantaged child would benefit.  Not scary at all. In change management, chunking the change into small, manageable parts will ensure progress can be made.

All up, I must say that this was the best Kris Kringle experience I have ever had.  Did we think we were going through a change management exercise? No way. And this is the biggest lesson - processes we go through that feel like "Change " are actually ineffective change management experiences.  Done right, we should barely feel a thing.  It is possible, it takes work, but tools like Switch can make change absolutely worthwhile and extremely rewarding.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Price rises and salary reviews - how train tickets can show us how

I recently moved from an annual train ticket to a stored value, charge-by-trip system.  Where my previous experience had been that the annual cost was taken from my salary each fortnight (thanks to a system my employer provides), I now have to top up my card and see what value remains after each journey is completed.  The cost of course is the same as it's always been (and in fact a tiny bit less).  So what's the difference? After each trip I now have the personal cost brought top of mind.  If the trip has been bad, I'm resentful. If it's been a 'good' trip, I'm resentful because who likes paying for smelling unreliable service? 

The concept at play here is "adaptation", explored in Dan Ariely's Upside of Irrationality. We become desensitized to change - our emotions level out as the positive and negative perceptions of the change fade away.  Think about how excited you were when you bought that new TV, new car, new dress. The elation fades away as you adapt to the change.  Ariely describes this as the "hedonic treadmill" where we underestimate how short lived happiness through consumption actually is, and why 'keeping up with the Joneses' will only ever disappoint.

One of the lessons here is that when it comes to the annual pay rise, we'd be better off getting the increases in instalments. Why? So we can enjoy them more. Quarterly raises would mean you are reminded four times of your increasing worth to your workplace rather than just once.   (It would also benefit the business' bottom line just quietly....)

The converse is true and is why my train ticket has become very annoying.  Instead of me adapting to the annual cost and the pain receding to my memory, I am being interrupted every time I travel - I am not being allowed to adapt. 

The lessons for marketers? If you are increasing your prices, give serious consideration to larger rises less often - limit the number of times you remind them of what you are charging so that you give your customers time to adapt.  Think like an annual train ticket.

If you are rewarding your customers (Myer does this well with it's reward card), try doing so in instalments so the positive impact is felt more frequently. Think like a reward-per-trip ticket.

And if you are the new Victorian government, add this blog to the list of Myki ticket feedback!