Challenging The Seasoned Cynic

This Week’s Focus Point

Last week I wrote of the suppression of new enthusiasm which resulted in ignored talent, wasted energy and poor commitment.

This week I want to talk about the opposite – seasoned cynicism.

These people in your organisation (or perhaps yourself) respond to every new proposed change with ‘it won’t work’ – an opinion usually formed through the messy reality of previous organisational changes.

These are people that sit within the Despair and Fearful camps of my Momentum Path, i.e. low energy and low hope.

There are a number of reasons to be stuck here, usually stemming from fear.

  • A fear of being burned again,
  • A fear of falling behind or being removed completely,
  • A fear of standing out,
  • A fear of wasted time and energy.

Working with a seasoned cynic is usually more of an art than a science.

However, I’ve found that the only way to impress and create movement – renewed energy and hope – within a seasoned cynic is results.

Clear, irrefutable results.

We need to do this early to create ongoing commitment.

The method: Create a challenge path.

A path of activities of escalating difficulty, each with immediate impact and result.

Start with, and commit the cynic to the easiest challenge first. It should be simple enough to not be refused, but with enough impact that it creates notable progress towards your vision and an immediate result.

This often works well when it targets a change in either who (their team), what (their work), when (their timetabling), where (their location) or how (their systems and processes) as these are tangible and immediate.

Then move on to the next challenge, and the next.

This doesn’t only apply to organisational change efforts.
Perhaps your own energy and hope is low. Are you responding with cynicism?

Create a challenge path. 

Prove that you are greater than your fears.

Your Weekly Challenge

This week I challenge you to test this out. Create a challenge path for your immediate team.

  1. Set a short-term vision (no more than a month),
  2. Run a challenge path design session by:
    1. Listing the challenges required to hit the vision
    2. Capturing the respective size and impact of these challenges
    3. Reorder for the lowest size and largest impact
    4. Set ownership and commitment
  3. Conquer
  4. Reflect, and send me a summary of how it went.

Don’t have a team at the moment?
Do the above but for yourself.

This Week’s Thought Pulses

Leadership & Performance

A seasoned cynic will often be your biggest proponent once engaged.
High resistance and reluctance is a testing ground, no more.

Momentum & Energy

Organisational momentum is driven by results.
Results are driven by organisational momentum.
Attack both with ferocity.

Delivery & Oversight

Resist the temptation of making your project a black box.
Early and continuous results build commitment.
Commitment you will need.


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