Anne said that the most important innovations are the most resisted and that resistance to innovation is normal so we shouldn't get downhearted. She said some of the problems in academia are that there is a tendency for academics to think the job is done once the paper is written. Management used to think in terms of funding and now the emphasis is more on looking for a return on investment. There is also now more of a focus on cuts rather than growth.
Anne went on to describe the 4 stages of resistance:
Stage 1 - blindness
Anne showed us a clip for YouTube Who dunnit? that had 21 differences in it that it's fair to say the majority of the audience missed - watch it and see how observant you are!
The point she was making with this was that your brain filters out the things that don't seem relevant. So we are all prone to a bit of blindness when it comes to innovation.
We then had the delight of listening to "Stairway to Heaven", forwards and then backwards to see if we could hear any satanic voices - I kid you not.
After listening to it backwards the first time and hardly any of us heard anything untoward we were presented with some proposed lyrics for the backward version - this time you hear the words that are proposed - it's force-fitted to your expectations, which can also happen with your ideas.
So with blindness a few things can happen
- filtering - filter out what doesn't fit
- force-fitting - "ah yes that's just like my idea" - force-fitting into pre-existing pigeon-holes - you need to listen to the detail rather than force fit
- "we tried that weeks ago and it didn't work" - to counter this ask for the details, the report, get them onside because you show an interest in what's already been done.
- "great this shows I'm right" - be careful you don't delude yourself that you are right when you are not
- mismatched mental models - ideas that don't fit our mental models are ignored
So how do we open their eyes? - the hardest thing to do is stimulate. The easiest thing to do is to try and fit in with their interests, beliefs and concerns.
Stage 2 - Frozen
People are aware of your ideas but not motivated, What do you do about this? She talked about Schein's unfreezing technique. It's about making it feel OK to act. The technique reduces the resistance to change
Stage 3 - Interested
So they say "tell me about it" - this is the key to selling your idea. You need to make it concise and clear, aim for no more than 10 words. Also make sure your evidence clearly supports your message - it's not easy to do this so beware
Stage 4 - Embedded
Will they say "sorry we forgot about it" or "we've always done it this way". At this point you need to make sure you don't fall into the trap of thinking it's all done once you've written the paper. Make sure it's not forgotten that you started all this.
These 4 stages can happen quickly. They are human psychology so we need to be aware that we are not immune to this ourselves.
Great presentation and not just because of the Led Zeppelin, food for thought