When young children get to that stage in their development where they have a pretty good idea of who they are and what they want to do, they can become pretty stubborn when you want them to do something or go somewhere. What do they want to know? “Why?” Just watch parents, at the mall, fighting a losing battle with a small child who doesn’t understand (or doesn’t want to understand) why it’s time to leave.
Other than patience, what is missing from this scenario? The reason “why” it is time to leave. The child wants to know the value, the “WIIFM” of leaving. “What’s In It For Me?” And when it comes right down to it, we all want to know WIIFM when it comes to change. Because we think in pictures, we need to see the new picture, get comfortable with the new picture, before we can begin to move toward it.
Leaders of change initiatives, change agents, whatever you want to call them, could take a lesson or two from WIIFM. Knowing that human beings think in pictures, that we automatically move toward the strongest picture – and it doesn’t matter if it is forward to the new or backward to the old – it is the strongest picture that fascinates us. If you are working to move an organization to a new level of performance, a four-year old out of the mall, or a teenager into doing the dishes, you need to paint the brightest, most fascinating picture of the end result you want.
Now, you are probably thinking, as you read this, “I’m happy to move to a new picture, as long as I can trust the folks in charge.” And you are correct. Trust is a huge issue in any organization of people, whether it is a Fortune 500 company or a family of four – especially when change is on the horizon. Credibility of leadership is almost more important than the new picture.