Selling change to organizations is difficult. One reason is that change represents a threat, a chance for things to go wrong. It’s no wonder that many people avoid anything that smells of change.
Another reason is that different people in the organization have different worldviews, different narratives.
Consider the difference between “offense” and “defense” when confronting a new idea.
The person who is playing offense wants to get ahead. Grow market share. Get promoted. She wants to bring in new ideas, help more customers, teach the people around her. Change is an opportunity to further the agenda, change is a chance to reshuffle the deck.
The person who is playing defense, though, wants to be sure not to disappoint the boss. Not to drop a ball, break what’s working or be on the spot for something that didn’t happen.
Either posture, surprisingly, can lead to significant purchases and change.
Defensive purchases are things like a better insurance policy, or a more reliable auditor. Offensive purchases include sophisticated new data mining tools and a course in public speaking.
The defensive purchaser switches to a supplier that offers the same thing for less money. The offensive posture demands a better thing, even if it costs more.
Not only are people divided in their posture related to change, they’re also in different camps when it comes to going first. For some, buying something first is a thrill and an opportunity, for others, it’s merely a threat.
While we often associate defense with late adoption, that’s not always true. The military, for example, frequently pushes to buy things before ‘the bad guys’ do. For example, the internet was pioneered and supported by the defense establishment.
And while you can imagine that some people seeking to make change happen are eager geeks of whatever is new, it’s very common for a proven success (a titan) to wait until an idea is proven, then overinvest in putting it to use in order to continue to steamroll the competition. Trader Joe’s did this with laser scanners… They like change, as long as that change is proven to help them win even more than they already are.
Play with the graph a little bit and consider who you are contacting and what story you’re telling…