Want to drive change internally? Here are two reasons you shouldn’t skip the interviews
I’ve spent most of my career being a troublemaker trying to push an organization into trying new things. Sometimes I’ve failed miserably and a few times I’ve succeeded.
As an outside consultant I always start by taking to different groups to understand their perspective on the problem and it helps me understand the points of view of my stakeholders, their customer and the person paying my bill. When I work on an internal project is easy for me to skip over that and just start solving the problem because I think I understand it and that is just plain wrong for two reasons.
Your perspective is not enough
I have spent many years volunteering for Special Olympics Maryland’s Winter Games and I was certain I knew how to fix some of the problems we had on my race course. But the first time I worked the Games in a different role that had more interaction with other groups I realized how wrong I was. All my ideas would have failed and alienated people.
What you think about an internal problem is based only on what you see and experience. There is more going on than just that. Interviewing will give you that bigger picture view of the players and interactions. It will surface ideas and insights that you can never get on your own and that’s well worth spending a few hours.
You need to test ideas and win support
Interviewing gives you an opportunity to test your ideas out in a quick and low risk way. During an interview I will casually ask “What do you think about…?” or “Could this…help by…?”
The responses I get help me validate ideas and the people I’ve talked to support them because they were part of their creation. Just yesterday I was softly pitching an idea in an interview and the person took it in a direction I hadn’t thought about that was really smart. The same thing happened this morning with a different person.
Your interviewees will begin to trust that your are listening and willing to continue to work with them beyond the first release. I’ve seen a lot of organizations where people don’t trust that other groups are listening, that they care and that they will make changes to the product or process once it’s released.
Risk is always a big problem in organizations, most executives want to know that other groups within the organization have been consulted about an initiative. These efforts will mitigate the risk of going out on a limb by yourself. It doesn’t mean that everyone gets a vote, but it does mean everyone gets a voice.
Image: An exploration of dots suggesting you need a bunch of them to connect things