How to change product function and fulfillment without pissing off your users
The Six Percent Entrepreneur
How to change product function and fulfillment without pissing off your users
August 26, 2021
In this episode, we talk about an excellent technique that will help you implement smooth changes in your startup.
People need to be heard. If you are implementing any kind of change in your product delivery, fulfillment, features benefits, anything. Well, this change makes it feel like you are rocking the fish tank, it creates instability. People just don't like it because people have some level of expectation and if you change this expectation, they have to reorient themselves and this reorientation is painful. So how do you manage change in a way where you're not pissing off your customers, you're not making anyone upset? So this is what today's episode is about. And this lesson was actually something that I learned from my manager at the World Bank. 

So at the World Bank, these people are amazing, so knowledgeable, so incredible. And they're always at the cutting edge of the best management techniques because usually whoever is a thought leader, if you're a thought leader, you're probably coming in through the World Bank, you're probably sharing your expertise with the World Bank anyway, since this is one of the most premier Intergovernmental institutions in the world, right? But this is a lesson that I learned from my manager at the World Bank and now you are going to learn it. So you can effectively manage change in your organization. 

To kind of give you a little bit of background, here's what I was doing. I was working on a business process improvement project. So at the moment in the World Bank, there was a lot of bureaucracy, there were a lot of bottlenecks, and my task, my job was to redesign how things would flow with knowledge-product creation. So during this task, there's a lot of people that I met because there's a lot of stakeholders. Whenever you manage change, one of the key things that you need is: you need buy-in from every single one of the stakeholders. If you don't have buying in from one single person, it can throw a wrench into your whole operation because this person can start evangelizing why it's not a good idea or something like that and basically sabotaged your entire initiative. So it is paramount to get buy-in for whatever you're doing. 

Now, when I first started doing this project, I went around and interviewed all the different stakeholders to try to see if I can get buy-in. And there was this one person that didn't have buy-in because I was taking a lot of responsibility off this person's plate. And because I was taking this responsibility on this person's plate, this person... I think this person kind of felt like I was taking away pieces of their job and they were losing a little bit of job security. Well, I mentioned this to my manager. 

Well, actually my manager asked me about it. My manager said you know, how did your interviews go? Um are we set for the meeting that's gonna come up in a couple of days and I was like, yeah, like, you know,  everyone has buy-in except for this one person, I'm not really sure exactly where she stands, but I guess we'll find out in the meeting. That's what I said, right? And he was like "No, Robin, that's not how you do it. Meetings are not for finding out what people think. Meetings are for confirming what's already understood." And I was like, oh, okay, because this makes sense, right? Because if you bring people into a meeting and then you have someone that is hesitant and doesn't wanna, you know, buy into whatever you're saying, like that's an opportunity for them to sabotage the whole thing. So this meeting is just to confirm something that people already agreed to. So our whole objective now was to get buy-in from this person before we even started that meeting. 

So how I'm using this lesson in product development and in my startups and, and things like that is if we implement any kind of change before we announce any kind of change, we make the transition smooth enough so people know the changes coming and they have buy-in and we're able to sell it in a way that looks like a benefit. So if you are managing any kind of change, you don't wanna rock the fish tank, you don't want to make an abrupt change because it's gonna make people feel bad. What you do is you slowly transition it. 

So you reach out to all your customers and you say  "Hey, based on feedback, here's what we've been learning. We would like to listen. We would like to open up this forum to hear your thoughts." and you gather people's thoughts, and who knows? You might hear some good thoughts that might make you change your mind about the process. Or at least you might hear some thoughts where you can figure out exactly how to pitch the change in a way that this other person will buy-in. 

But the whole point is, you don't wanna go to the meeting and then try to figure out people buy-in at the same time, you don't want to make an announcement and then just kind of see how it goes because that's playing with fire. You have no idea how people are going to react. We live in a digital world. So if you make a mistake with one person, that one person could essentially recruit an army of thousands of people who are now all of a sudden against your company. So doing this the right way means you are getting buy-in before making the announcement. And now it's just up to you to think about all the different creative ways to be able to do that. This is Robin Copernicus. Boom bam. I'm out.

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