The work I do with schools and other organisations usually focuses on change, whether it’s a small aspect of operation, or a new strategic direction. Leading is about change, and change causes pain. In my conversations with leaders there is frustration with resistance and negativity. But I encourage them to see this activism in perspective.
A couple of weeks ago Bill and I had our second Astra Zeneca jab. As soon as we were eligible, we lined up for the #1 and now 10 weeks later, #2. That’s because we are early adopters. Excited by innovation, I usually jump on board. There are times when this has been a great decision (mostly) and times it didn’t work out as planned (sometimes).
Currently in Sydney, we are in the fifth week of lockdown. Many of us are taking personal responsibility. Not seeing our families, not engaging in activities we love. On the weekend, I posted on my social media that I was feeling demoralised, my hope, courage and optimism was being challenged. I had watched those who feel their freedom unfairly restricted, march in our city, with noisy and ugly scenes. A most dangerous situation given our Delta status. My morale was low.
Early adopters get excited by ‘the new’ and become evangelists for change. I know that there will be people at different stages of the change spectrum, but my passion is to help people navigate change and make it stick. As I shared our vaccination news to my network, most responded positively. Maybe they are the early enthusiasts like me. But I know that there are many silent, many hesitant, I know they are sincerely thinking and weighing it all up. A handful, likely to be around 16% are resistant. And they are often the noisiest ones.
Why 16%? Because that’s what the ‘Law of Diffusion of Innovation’ tells me. These are called the ‘laggards’. They exist everywhere and they have two favourite phrases:
We’ve always done it this way.
If it ain’t broke…
And they long to be able to say,
I told you so!
If you are navigating in change (and who isn’t), the task is to grow people through the process:
Encourage the early adopters
Provide time, helpful information and success stories for the early majority and late majority
Minimise the airtime and influence of the laggards
Once I remembered this perspective my morale improved. If our nation gets 84% vaccinated, we will do well.