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Making change fun using curiosity

change design change resistance Jun 03, 2024
Curiosity is a magnet that pulls people into fun

Remember the days of summer camp? The joy of hiking through lush woods, the thrill of splashing in puddles, the laughter around a smoky crackling fire. The stickiness, the smell, the noise, the dirt... all part of the unforgettable experience that left us falling asleep contentedly on the bus ride home. 

After a long school year, it was a welcome break from the mundane routine. Arriving each morning wondering how you'd spend the day with your new mates and what trouble you might get into (and out of) with your camp counselor. 

It was days filled with curiosity. The unknown was an adventure. It was fun!

It was also change.

So why is it that, as adults, most of us have come to dread change? Is it because it's so pervasive in our work and daily lives that it's become mundane? I don't think so.

Somewhere along the way, we started taking it too seriously. It became pressure-filled and outcome-focused. But what if you could reclaim that sense of discovery, that choose-your-own-adventure style of exploration? Change could be exciting, a chance to grow and learn.

Change could be fun again.

No matter where your organization or team is currently in its "fun-ness" scale, you can make it MORE fun by designing a change experience that cultivates curiosity. The routine and repetitive way many organizations approach change contributes to resistance. It's boring. 

Curiosity acts like a magnet, drawing people into change. By creating suspense and revealing fun discoveries, people seek rather than wait to be told what to do. The discovery feels rewarding because it leads to a sense of personal accomplishment. It's different, and that's exciting.

Curiosity prevents resistance during change

Curiosity is a core behavior of change because people learn to be self-sufficient to find answers for themselves and because that self-driven learning feels good.  It's like summer camp when you found out for the first time you COULD paddle a canoe, and it wasn't that hard. Everyone else was in the same boat, too (literally), which also made it fun.

Curiosity creates positive feelings that keep people moving forward rather than contributing to change resistance. It's an antidote to the dreaded and dull death-by-powerpoint approach to change management.

Here are three ways to design more curiosity into your change experience:

  1. Use inquiry-based learning to drive questions rather than giving answers.
  2. Create personas that team members take on to forecast how the change will feel at key moments
  3. Field trip! Go to another implementation’s location or a conference to ask questions about others' experiences and learning

Here are five ways as a change leader to know your team needs more curiosity:

  • People demand training and expect to be taught
  • You doubt whether it's possible to learn everything
  • You have a time crunch at go-live to complete learning
  • More change is coming, and you need to invest in a long-term sustainable approach
  • You want more positive energy (and fun) in your team culture

I help leaders and project teams design more curiosity into their change efforts. That helps you feel more confident in delivering change successfully, quickly, and enjoyably. Reach out if you're curious to learn more about how effective change design can help your team. 

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