The Least-Effort Way

We’ve all seen the “resistance curve” where a few people are innovators, some are early adopters, early and late majorities, and a few are laggards, or skeptics, or what-have-you (from the work of Everett Rogersand other researchers).

One way to get almost everyone to be an early adopter is to offer something of value – money, time off, presents. Yes, bribes (as well as food) are well-known tools for speeding change acceptance. Did you ever hear of anyone resisting a bonus check? (I do know of one instance where a person received an unexpected bonus check for $100, then complained because the check wasn’t for an amount that would have yielded $100 after taxes.)

However, there’s another inducement to change that I’ve observed. When people are introduced to the possibility of a new or different process, they sometimes are eager to embrace change as long as the new process meets one criterion: It’s “less work” for them.

Now, this is a little differentdiscussion than most of us havehad about Radio Station WII-FM: What’s In It For Me? These particular folks don’t want to be jollied into accepting more work; they just want to do less work (by their own definition).

Because, let’s face it – often, it’s “more work” to do something right the first time, in the way it’s supposed to be done, than to do it poorly the first time and let someone else do the rework later. Regardless of the potential benefit and value to the customer, some people who are “in the moment” just care about the work that they do personally. It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s value-added for ourselves and to lose track of what’s value added for the customer.

I don’t want to get diverted into related discussions about the work ethic of our Generation-X and Gen-Y employees (not to mention the Millennials); or Theory X (people try to do the least work) vs Theory Y (people try to do a good job). I’d just like to know whether anyone else has experienced this, and what they have done to address it. After all, we won’t get far with process improvement if the gold standard is that everyone will do less work than they were doing before!

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Or will we?!?!?!?!

Comments 2

  1. tsperl

    Sue as a past Program Director of that radio station I can relate to your blog. I believe WII-FM is a major factor in why Lean Transformation fails. Change is difficult and when times get tough Leadership changes the station back to 80’s soft rock and listen to what they are comfortable with which typically sets the organization back. This is really evident in healthcare where most leaders struggle to stay the course of Lean because they don’t understand change management.

    There is hope. Currently I am working with a small community hospital where Leadership has encouraged the front-line staff to lead the transformation by allowing them to be the station’s Program Director to make change happen. After Value Stream Mapping patient flow across the hospital the early adopters have begun 5Sing by themselves because they turned up the radio and realized that while WII-FM sometimes is hard to listen to it means less work for them and a better patient experience.

  2. Sue Kozlowski

    Thanks, Todd, for your comment! Typically I find that people define "work" as "effort" and they need help to discover that what they first perceive as "more effort" ends up being less – once you consider the re-work that you can eliminate!

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