During the last presidential election cycle, the winning candidate promised sweeping change especially in the way the federal government does business, and as typical, he did not deliver. We’re getting more of the same old, same old... But why be surprised? These folks (democrats and GOP) are politicians; that is, they say anything to get elected, and if enough people believe, well, the blatherskites are in. I’m always amazed at the naiveté of the sycophants who support one side or the other when they cry with great angst and anger about the other side, “He lied!” Duh! They’re politicians! ALL politicians lie! It’s their medium! It’s what they do! Exacerbating the situation, the sycophants and supporters of a given side are either amoral or have no intellectual honesty. See, it’s all right if their candidate lied because he had noble intentions. As my dad used to say, “Horse manure!” |
The only change we’ve received over the last few election cycles is for the worse. The country declined after Clinton, and has declined even further after Bush. I’m not blaming the head man, as is our normal American pastime; I’m suggesting that the system is broken and we don’t have either the patience or gumption to fix it. See, real change is too uncomfortable. So, we’ll continue to reelect the same dipshits, tax dodgers, perverts, and felons and rely on the “lucky system”; that is, if we get lucky the system will self-correct. (Psst! I have a flash for you: Not likely!)
Leading change is difficult and all but impossible if the leader (believing his press clippings) decides he is the “big brain”. The problem is that the American people believe in the big brain theory; that is, they’re always looking for something simplistic: one charismatic person to solve all the problems; and/or one person to blame. Note that many entrepreneurs fall into the big brain trap because early on they are often forced to operate as one-man-gangs. When it’s time to let go, they find it difficult or impossible. Plus like congress, they think everyone else is stupid (or untrustworthy). The good news is that help is available from behavioral scientists, but we tend not to listen because what they recommend runs counter to our intuition.
Early in my business career if I wanted to implement beneficial change I too followed basic human intuition. I would seek out the biggest “enemy” and attempt to convert him; thinking if I could get that hardnosed s-o-b in line, everyone else would follow suit. He was “the one” standing in the way. Let me ask you something. Have you watched a debate on MSNBC or Fox News between two political factions? Neither side listens to the other no matter how good a point the opposition makes. They each have their own talking points; it’s as phony as professional wrestling.
Anyway the big brain theory does not yield positive results unless we’re lucky, and a hardnosed opponent will not change his mind—normally. But, there are ways to change an adverse situation, which is the subject of this rant.
Behavioral scientists tell us human society consists of three main factions: 1) those who like and embrace change without much (or any) thought and judgment, 2) those who wait until an implemented change looks like it will be successful before signing on, and 3) those who hate change of any kind; and prefer the status quo. We are also told that society needs all three categories to maintain sanity and balance. A former colleague, Tim Beauchmin, came up with labels for the three factions: Avant Garde, Mainstream, and Laggard.
The recommendation of the scientists is to completely ignore the laggard, which is counter to our instinct. The mainstream is the target, but the change agent can skillfully use the avant garde to get their attention.
Here’s how: reveal the change to avant garde because they’ll be delighted (they love anything new) and jump in with both feet. The problem is they will not stay with you. As soon as something newer comes along they disappear. The marketing forces of today really have this group figured out what with constant new, improved, and more powerful electronic gadgets. The avant garde is absolutely giddy. Therefore, the method is to exploit them to capture the mainstream.
Like the laggards, the mainstream is wary of change, but likes the idea of practical and sustained improvement. So they carefully watch the avant garde to see what could be successful. Once they buy-in they stay for the long haul usually making generations of improvements to the original idea. Once this group adopts the idea, real change happens.
Forget about the laggards. The honest ones are immediately opposed and make themselves known; however, others waste your time (through insidious pretense) while going behind the advocate’s back with poisonous remarks. When an idea fails one can easily identify this group. They’re the ones who state, “I told him it would never work.” The only time they adopt change is when it is politically expedient to do so. Tim used to say laggards are the ones who do not board the train until it’s pulling out of the station.
That said, don’t demonize the laggards. Nazi Germany could have used a few more.
Copyright 2011 by Gene Myers.
Author of AFTER HOURS (2009), Strategic Publishing Group, New York, NY (www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/AfterHours.html).
Author of SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE (2010), PublishAmerica, Fredericksburg, MD.
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