How One Engineering Company Solved a Problem by Working Around the Stubborn Mule Holding Them Back.
Many people are stuck in their ways.
They think that the way they are doing something is the best way to do it and that is all there is to it.
A stubborn Foreman and a Newly minted Engineer have a run-in
We have a family friend who is a brilliant engineer and one day as a recent graduate he was visiting an engineering workshop where they were attempting to bend steel beams, but they kept twisting them and they were having all sorts of problems.
Our Friend the Engineer suggested to the foreman that he take two beams, weld them together at a certain point and then it will bend without twisting.
The stubborn foreman kicks him out
Well that foreman told him where to go, kicked him out of the factory and told him to never return because he’d been doing this, this way for twenty years and there was no way some young buck was ever going to tell him how to do his job.
So he writes a letter to the Directors
Now being an impetuous young lad he wrote a letter to the company directors and told them what had occurred and that he was only trying to help them run a successful business.
He Created Doubt in the Directors Minds about their Current Solution
He informed the Directors that he was confident his way would work and they were willing to put their trust in this newly graduated Engineer so they ordered the foreman to do it the way our friend had suggested and to cut the story short they tried it out and were successful at completing the bend in the steel without twisting.
Although his initial conversation with the foreman didn’t go well, his letter to the directors had the right effect because he created doubt in their mind that they had the best solution for getting the job done.
The problem you have is that you probably cannot write to the directors of your company and have them change that person’s mind!
So you need to do something else and that something else is Creating Doubt.
Creating Doubt is the Key to moving Stubborn People
It is this DOUBT that is key to getting people who are stuck in their ways to go with what you want them to do.
When you create doubt, they need to ask themselves “Do I have the best solution?”
If you ask if they have the best solution, they will say yes.
If they ask if they have the best solution, they might say no.
And that is how you move people on, they have to ask themselves if they have the best solution.
A way to move those stubborn people forward, Get them into the GREY!
One of the ways you do this, is you ask them what is the upside/downside, advantage/disadvantage of the current situation.
Then Once you have got them to verbalise the downsides you have got them into the grey.
And it is only once you get them into the grey can you assist them to look at other options. One way that we can bring people into the grey is through the motivational interviewing technique that gets people to clearly articulate the upsides and downsides of these situations.
Use Motivational Interviewing To Help you Move those Stubborn Mules into the Grey!
Create a chart. At the top place the purpose of what it is that you are doing. Then put in four cross sections the upsides and the downsides.
By listing everything out, you get people to look at what really matters when moving to a future state.
Once you have listed everything out in the chart, both the upsides and the downsides for the current state and the future state.
Take your purpose, your possibility and look at everything through that lens. Ask the question “What is our purpose, What is the Why”. Then cross out everything that does not follow your purpose.
For example, if the purpose of changing the product we are selling is to make a better profit.
But someone lists a downside as not having the old product to sell anymore, what you do is you look at that downside through the lens of making a better profit.
If the new product completely replaces the old and you are not going to make a net loss in customers as a result of the change then you can safely ignore that downside.
You Can Ignore it Because It does not fit with your purpose.
But if NOT having the old product to sell definitely meant less profit then that would be a downside that would stay.
Once you have eliminated the upsides and downsides that do not align themselves with your purpose you can now critically evaluate whether or not what it is you are wanting to do is a good thing.
The Outcome with Your Stubborn Mule is:
Once you have evaluated the change using this method, and their downsides start to look irrelevant in their own eyes they will start to question themselves about whether or not they have the best solution.
Then, once you have moved them into the grey, you can start to move them towards what it is you want them to get behind.
And that folks is how you move on your stubborn mules :).