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“I need to convince them”

I can’t count the number of times I heard people telling me this sentence during a professional 1.1 coaching engagement, training, or while working for organizations. Heck, I don’t even recall the number of times I had that thought too. The debate will stay open on whether it is an intuitive or nurtured approach we gravitate toward when we want to implement change.

Perhaps it is coming from all the political speeches we see non-stop on TV or the hero stories. The ones we see using all the rhetorical tips and tricks, the ones who create a powerful image of a proud, energetic orator gaining the support and enthusiasm of the crowd just through their words.

Reality in implementing change does not work like that though.

 

“I need to convince” pitfalls

Our human brains are very protective of who we think we are, our beliefs, and our world’s vision. When we argue with someone and try to impose our own vision on them, we only succeed in activating their threat process. The famous infamous fight, flight, freeze.

“When you have a conversation with your children and teenagers. What happens when you try to change them?” this question always brings smiles and laughter from any audience I ask. We all know the answer.
We cannot convince a closed mind.

Yet, I still hear “I need to convince” leaders, teams, and organizations to change.

I have been there, and done that, not yielding success despite deploying all the arsenal of rhetorical tips and tricks to convince, to change people’s minds. The bad news though, often this effort only resulted in both parties being frustrated and one breeding resistance in any further change attempt.

I have also seen good and well-intentioned leaders, team coaches, or change agents revert to the use of coercive power when they could not “convince” with, of course, all the ensuing negative effects.

We assume that change can be imposed from the outside and while it certainly can by force, the results won’t be ones of an engaged workforce, a cooperative leader, and the development of a high-performing organization. Simply because those results come from intrinsic motivation, they come from within.

I could continue on how to influence someone to have a broader perspective by letting go of the “I need to convince” and adopting a first curiosity approach but instead, I’d like to share a story, something simple to some extent that resulted in a potent catalyst for change: Visualization.

 

What happens when we visualize “We’re too busy”?

I worked with a marketing team in a gaming company, perpetually caught in a whirlwind of busyness. Their constant refrain for weeks was “We’re too busy”. They wanted, they needed, to spend time to build their team, and their leader desired this time but “they were too busy”. It was a superficial acknowledgment of their situation because nobody knew how much they were busy. They knew and they did not know.

After we finally got an opportunity to clear calendars for a day, we undertook the initiative to start building the team. Nothing was really taking root though despite theirs and my best efforts.
At some point, I asked, “You are telling me you are busy. But how much are you busy? Can we do an exercise to visualize the busyness?”.

In under 10 minutes, the team members mapped out all the projects on their plate, even color-coding the stakeholders and the value each task was supposed to deliver. The wallboard we used was filled, turning into a vivid mosaic of their overstretched capacities.
That moment was the epiphany when simultaneously the team and their leader realized the magnitude of their problem.
This team could not breathe. Their leader’s reaction was telling — “Oh shit…” that spoke volumes.

This moment of realization was pivotal. It wasn’t about proving them wrong or right about their busyness; it was about helping them show the reality of their situation. This led their leader to take decisive action, engaging with stakeholders to reevaluate the necessity and value of each project. Within two weeks, half of the work was deemed superfluous and cut, significantly alleviating the team’s workload.

The team could finally dedicate time to become a high-performing team, they had more slack in their system, and in a way it was able to breathe.
All it took, was to visualize.

Imagine what could be possible if we were to visualize more of what happens in your organization.

 

Why does visualization can be a pathway to internal change motivation?

By making abstract problems tangible, and visible, we allow for individuals to see for themselves the need for change. In the above story, there is an additional component which is the team members building the visualization.

Once they built the visualization, they took the measure of the problem in their hand and they bought in to change their situation. Their leader felt compelled to act, not by being forced by someone but by the situation’s necessity.

Visualization exercises allow individuals to see for themselves the need for change. From value stream mapping to simple visualizations of workload, the power of seeing is undeniable.
Visualization triggers curiosity, sparks dialogue, and most importantly, fosters a shared understanding of the challenges at hand to decide which actions to take.

Visualization techniques offer a path to building internal motivation. The individual desire for change in the Prosci ADKAR model.

 

Conclusion: Facilitating Change Through Revelation

I consider my role not to impose change but to reveal the need for it. I would like to encourage everyone, that through visualization, we can make the implicit explicit, drawing attention to inefficiencies and opening the door to self-driven improvement. This approach not only builds a desired attitude toward change but also empowers individuals to take ownership of their transformation process.

Visualization is about showing, not telling; about inspiring, not compelling. As we navigate the complexities of organizational change, let us lean on the power of visualization to spark a genuine desire for change that comes from within.

How can visualization be used in other scenarios to bring change?
What other methods can be used to influence someone to have a broader perspective?

I am Diane and I have the mission to support forward-thinking leaders. I blend human-centric strategies with efficient practices to foster resilient business growth and purpose-driven change, ensuring sustainable client value. I am here to help, support, and guide you, book me for a free consultation