Leading Change is Both an Art and a Science with Alex and Cristina

In today's episode of Uncover the Human, Alex and Cristina delve into the topic of leading change. They emphasize the importance of being proactive and thinking ahead, rather than simply reacting to events as they unfold. By planning two, five, or even ten steps ahead, you can increase your chances of success and build confidence in your ability to navigate any curveballs that may come your way. 

Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.

YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human

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Alex Cullimore: Welcome to Uncover the Human where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives. 

Cristina Amigoni: Whether that's with our families, co-workers or even ourselves. 

Alex Cullimore: When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.

Cristina Amigoni: This is Cristina Amigoni. 

Alex Cullimore: And this is Alex Cullimore. Let’s dive in.

Cristina Amigoni: Let’s dive in. 

Authenticity means freedom.”

“Authenticity means going with your gut.”

“Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you.”

“Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself.”

“It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep-rooted and true.”

“Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be.”

“It's transparency, relatability. No frills. No makeup. Just being.”

Alex Cullimore: Welcome back to this episode of Uncover the Human. Today, it's just two of us again. It's just Cristina and I. Welcome back. And we still have our festive holiday decor up. And by that, I do mean our Zoom filter of fake lights. 

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Yeah. 

Alex Cullimore: But you have your Santa hat.

Cristina Amigoni: I've got my Santa hat. I've got my Santa hat. It's two and a quarter. Does a Santa hat as a quarter person? 

Alex Cullimore: At least. I mean, it is a representation of the spirit of Christmas. So, it might be a lot more. Who knows? 

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, the amount of cheer that it brings to the room, it's going to be at least a quarter person. Or maybe I'm the quarter person and the hat is a full person. 

Alex Cullimore: I feel like I've seen many movies where it is the magic. 

Cristina Amigoni: I'm the quarter. The hat is the one. 

Alex Cullimore: I'm in my very authentic pullover. So, it's my holiday outfit. Today, we wanted to talk about leading change. 

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. 

Alex Cullimore: And what to do as a leader who's helping with change?

Cristina Amigoni: Hopefully helping with change. We've talked about why change is hard. We've talked about change in many different ways. But leading change I don't think we've addressed. It's like what do we actually do when change is presented to us on a platter? What's our role in it? And so, how do we go about it? So, yeah, that should be interesting. We don't really have a prescribed outline for this. You're on this roller coaster with us.

Alex Cullimore: Welcome to a live journey, pre-recorded. 

Cristina Amigoni: Which is pretty much how change feels. It is a live journey. 

Alex Cullimore: Yeah, yeah, that's why we decided we'd do it this way and definitely not because we wanted to brainstorm it. 

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now, on the other hand, when I would talk about leading change, please plan. 

Alex Cullimore: Do as we say, not as we do. 

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. Don't just – Yeah. Don’t just ad lib your way through leading change. That's not a recommended formula for success. That's probably the number one rule if there are rules on leading changes. Be ready for what you can be ready for, which is quite a bit. And then be ready for the fact that there's a whole lot that you're not going to be ready for. And it's going to constantly be different.

Alex Cullimore: Yes. Yes, be ready, start planning, and know that your plan is not going to happen. And it still is worth making the plan. You have to do it because you have to start considering all these things. And to your point, thinking about the things that you can control, all those are going to be important. And inevitably, there will be things you can't know about or won't know about that will just throw wrenches all over the place during the timeline, and it will throw the plan off, which I think people can easily get frustrated by. I think it'd feel like, "Well, it didn't go according to plan." Or, "I'm not going to make a plan this time because last time nothing went according to our plan," which is likely true. But the actual value of the plan is not in its perfect execution. It's in the thinking about things that are coming down the pipeline and being sure you're thinking of the larger ecosystem and knowing what probably needs to happen because it keeps you two steps ahead of where you need to be, which is exactly where you need to be if you're leading change.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, I would definitely agree. I think the biggest piece about leading change is, as a change agent, change leader, your role is to be thinking two, to five, to ten steps ahead. Whatever is happening at the moment, you're already past it. You're helping it happen. You're enabling what needs to happen. You're observing what's working and what's not working. But from a planning perspective, you are definitely five to ten steps ahead. That's probably at the core of leading change. It's not waiting for something to be happening to then be doing it, and planning it and thinking about it. You've thought about it ahead of time and you have something that you plan to have. I wonder how many times we can say plan in this conversation about leading something that's unplanned. But it's true. There are elements that need to be happening. And the more you can look ahead, the more successful or at least the more calm you can be when you're dealing with that 20% to 50% of curveballs of things that are not going to go as you expected them. 

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. And that's one thing that we always lead with in our presentations, everything, when we're helping people through transformations, is the understanding that there is the change curve that there will inevitably be kind of the resistance, the holding back. We've talked about that a little bit before. And the important thing to remember is that you will also go through it if you're the leader of a change. You will also be going through that. So, planning helps get you ahead of that a little bit. Because whatever happens, you don't want to be in the middle of the change curve trying to help your team with whatever has just popped up. You want to you want to try and be a little bit ahead of that so that you've gone through enough of the processing of that that you can help and be in a good place to support the people who are now going to go through that as this new obstacle, whatever it may be, pops up.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. And actually, I just thought about something as you were saying that. Because I think we're getting closer to defining what leading change is. I've recently read kind of a comparison or web page article that talks about change leadership instead of change management. And it separates the two, as in the management is the plan, the process. What's actually changing? The leadership is the humans. And so, the change – the difference is when a lot of people focus on change management, that's great and all unnecessary. But unless that your change management includes the humans, it's flawed. You're just not going to get there having templates, and a plan, and a methodology and a linear work stream. It's great and necessary, but it's not enough. Because the humans bring the unpredictability of it. What skills and what do you need to do to lead the change? Not just manage the change project? Which is two very different things. Very related, but very different things. And so, the change curve that you mentioned is, in the change management, that's the solid piece. We know there's a change curve. We know how people go through it more or less. We know people will go through it. The change leadership piece is really the we don't know when people are going to go through it. We don't know if you're going to skip steps. We don't know how many times they're going to go through it. And we can help them through it with the flexibility of it's not going to be planned, "Oh, I'm in denial right about now, and I had predicted that in my change management plan." 

Alex Cullimore: Now, I'm really glad you pointed out both sides of that because I think both are crucial to have that. And that's why having this plan is important. And that having a plan is not everything. You have to have both sides of this. You can't just have leadership without the plan. For one, it's going to be particularly difficult and you basically guarantee throwing people into the change curve in like a washing machine-like cycle. But you – so, you need some of that structure to help people kind of ground and continue to come back and have something to – some touch points and some safety, basically, to provide that otherwise lack of structure that will inevitably happen. And if you only have the plan, why would anybody go through it? They're just going to be wandering around the structure of a plan. And it's the same reason that no technology has fixed a problem. It has to be how you use the technology. Salesforce can be a really powerful CRM. It doesn't mean that we don't do any work to manage customer relationships. Salesforce can be an incredibly powerful tool. And it can't be a everything we have to do the other portion of it. And I think that's where the change leadership kind of comes in an analogical sense. That's where we need that human that is dealing with that unpredictability on top of something that is more structured and has rules/plan/processes.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. Yeah. It's almost like the success to leading change is really change management plus change leadership, which we'll probably have to create a new word for, is change something. But it includes both because it is both an art and a science. And so, the science is the part that you can plan for. It's the part that you can think ahead and have structures, and have templates, and have models that you utilize and have tools that you take out when needed. The art is remembering these are humans. And so, while you may want them to receive your communication in a certain way, you have zero percent control over how they're going to receive the communication. You have zero percent control over the fact that they're going to receive it at all.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. We always love to use the phrase, "You can lead horse water, but you can't make a drink." And you can lead as much change as you want, but you can't make people go through the change. You just have to provide as best the structure as you can for people to get there. When it comes to the science portion, let's unpack just a little bit. What are things that people might need to think about to create their plan? What are questions they should ask? 

Cristina Amigoni: Some of the basics and some of the foundational pieces, which are part of probably virtually every single change management model that's out there with whatever acronyms they have, it's a why. Have a clear way to define what the why is of the change. Why are we doing this? And that why needs to be human, if you actually want the humans to change behaviors. Meaning it can't be about the bottom line. It can't be about what the shareholders may be or the board of directors may want to understand. That's one why, and it's necessary and that's great. But that why, it's almost an outcome of people changing behavior. And if you want people to change behavior, it has to be about them and their lives. It is a start with why, but it isn't. Because first you actually have to understand have a really fairly clear understanding of what's changing in people's lives? What are we trying to have them do? What are they doing today? And what are we expecting them to do tomorrow? And how do you bridge that gap? What do they need to learn? How do they have to think? Who do they need to interact with in that journey from current to future? And then, once you understand a little bit more what their journey looks like you can create a why that makes sense to them for their journey. 

Alex Cullimore: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's really well put. I think that human-why is the thing that is the inspiring call that people can come back to when they are experiencing the resistance that will inevitably come up when remembering that there is a reason that we're going through this. It's not just – so many organizations create so many changes that people are fatigued and they're like, "Okay. Great. So, there's some new idea that's happened." There's no reason to come back. They're just tired of doing change. Having that why is incredibly important. And to your point, that also helps define that journey. That journey is the other thing you get to plan. And you can start to think about who needs to know what? When? How? What else will they need? What are the gaps. You won't be able to cover this 100% before you start the project. Some of it will happen a little bit on the fly. But getting that initial outlook helps you stay those two to three steps ahead so that you're still moving other things forward even when the bumps come up that you have to circle back around and think about again.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. And I think it's very important. Because a lot of times, especially when change management is brought in after the change has been announced or started, then there's a lot of catch up to do. But in that the phase of understanding, what's the expected future state of the team, the project, the organization, the department and the company? And what's the current state? It's not easy for us change agents. But it's easy from an organizational point of view to, to want to skip the current state. Because it seems like a waste of time to say, "Oh, well, why do we – the current is what we want to change. Why should we bother understanding what the current state is and spending time there?" The reason why it's important is because that's how you communicate. You can't communicate if you don't know where you're starting from and just saying, "Okay, everybody, meet you in Rome." And then everybody's like, "Okay. How do I get there?" And I'm like, "Up to you. I don't know where you're coming from. So, figure it out." At which point is why you even have change leadership or a change agent? The role of the change specialist is to help in the journey. They kind of have to know where the journey starts. Otherwise, why are they there? Not only. But from the people that are trying to go to Rome, well, they're worried about other stuff. If you don't help them throughout the journey, they're not going to – You can show up to Rome. There's not going to be anybody there. 

Alex Cullimore: You're just taking steps in the dark then if you have no idea where you're current state is. You're just like, "Yeah, we're going to move in a direction." Is it the right direction? Like, you vaguely know you need to get to Rome if you have no idea where you are. What direction do you go? Is Rome closest to the west? Do I just keep walking in circles until I venture slightly wider and wider until I happen upon Rome? How are we going to do this? 

Cristina Amigoni: That's a big piece, is that, in the sciences, understand what the future state is so that you can create that journey. And then the other piece for that is, now, do that for anybody impacted by the change. And this is another really attractive shortcut place where like, "Well, it's only impacting the one person or the one department." I'm like, "No. It never is just impacting the one person." Just because one person or one department or one role is changing their title, or their software, or whatever the other change is, that doesn't mean that the impact is just them. For that, the recommendation is really to look at where are all the ripple effects? This is the butterfly effect that we need to think about, which is use the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Use the five whys of a toddler. But there's a next level. There's always somebody else that's impacted. And their impact is going to be different. So, understanding how the ripple effect of the changes and who's going to get impacted? Why? It's also part of that science. And that's all preliminary. That's before you do anything about the change. And some will happen later on. But thinking about all this ahead of time is what's going to help you with the art. 

Alex Cullimore: I remember growing up, my family would talk about, my dad would talk about cars and how people will sometimes they'll want to be like, "I'm going to make the perfect car engine." It's like, "But it's not about the car engine." You can make a super efficient car engine, but what are you sacrificing in the rest of the car to do that? Do you need way more space? Well, now you don't have room for a battery. Do you need way more power? Well, that you need a bigger battery." Whatever the other pieces are. When you think about an organization or a change more in terms of a full vehicle or a full system, even if you think it's just narrowly focused on one thing, that thing never exists in isolation. I mean, either you have a perfectly siloed silo, at which point that's probably just another company. I don't know how you how they perfectly siloed silo. How does it not be part of some other piece of the system? It might seem like there's not a ton of connective tissue there. But you still have to consider it. Because changing one thing inevitably changes those connectors. 

Cristina Amigoni: It definitely does. Yes. I would say if we were to establish change principles is nothing happens in a vacuum. There's not a single thing you can do or say that happens in a vacuum. And so, what's outside of the vacuum? You're going to get – if you're lucky 80% there and 20% surprises. 60, 70, if you're you know talented. Sometimes it's a lot less. But at least you're thinking that way. At least you know there's a whole unknown side that I'm not thinking about and I'm going to find out in the middle of the change of this impact. 

Alex Cullimore: There's a big difference between knowing there's an unknown and finding out there's an unknown. 

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. Yes. 

Alex Cullimore: You might not be able to define what that unknown is. But knowing it's there changes your approach entirely as opposed to confidently believing you know everything, when inevitably you will not. And that goes to a key point I think in change leadership, is that curiosity. Leading with the open mind of like, "Well, what else could be changed by this? What if that would affect that person? What if –" Then it's just a conversation. Just like, "Hey, we're changing this. Is this something that might impact your department? I know you do this workflow or this process that ends up interacting with this." And sometimes maybe the answer will be no. And sometimes you will find a little rabbit hole that you need to do some untangling on and make sure that that will sort out as you move your journey from that current to future state. 

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, definitely. And I would say another science piece is communication. There can never be enough communication when it comes to change. It's like all the emails, all the town halls, all the messages, all the one-on-ones all the team meetings. And like just expect the fact that the information either didn't make sense, needs to be heard again, wasn't heard, didn't get there, it didn't really connect the dots, anything. And so, it gets tiring for the messenger to keep reiterating the same message and thinking this is now starting to sound condescending. Why do I have to say it again? But one of the rules of thumbs, I think, from advertising and marketing is when you are about tired of saying the same thing, that's when people are actually starting to hear you. 

Alex Cullimore: I think that's another one people fall down on for exactly that reason. Either they don't repeat it enough and then they feel like, "Well, people aren't paying attention. So, why –" That was a waste. Or it's the same as like planning and then things don't go according to plan. If you communicate and people don't receive the communication, it's not the same thing as that communication being not time well spent. That reiteration is what you need. Maybe you needed to say it another five times before it would sink in. Or maybe just expect that, as will inevitably happen in a large enough organization especially, someone's not going to read it. Someone's not going to pay attention. Someone's not going to see it. And that should also be expected. And once again, it doesn't actually mean the communication was worthless. Because even if it wasn't read by anybody, it put your thoughts in order. And now when they inevitably have to come asking because they didn't communicate it or they didn't read the communication, you have it. You have the answers ready and you're ready to help with that. That communication piece is absolutely crucial and something that should be reiterated and not ad nauseam. You have to say things enough times for them to sink in. And it doesn't make it worthless because they didn't hear it all in the first time.

Cristina Amigoni: Definitely. We always talk about the GEICO effect. It's GEICO advertises a million times or probably more a day in different ways. That's the other trick about communication, is the same message said in the same way, it has less chances of getting through. Change it up. Your audience is varied. What they're going to pay attention to is very different so change it up. The core message is the same. How you do it is different. How you try to get their attention is different. And so, there needs to be different ways of getting the same message out. And then um I would say from a science perspective, those are probably the biggest pieces, is being ahead. Looking ahead. Being five steps ahead. Have enough of a plan that you know what's coming and what needs to be done. Understand who's impacted and how they're impacted and really documents that well and spend time. Look at the journey from current to state. Define current. Define future. And communicate ad nauseum. Keep communicating. Be it yet another GEICO ad. 

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. And I really like how you said that you should mix up the communication, too. And if you want to extend the GEICO metaphor, then you can have it said a thousand times with the GEICO. Throw a cape man in there occasionally. Throw whatever of their five mascots they've had in the last couple of years, which we can all now list, or that I can list, and then have thought about because there was that much repetition. I have seen these all so many times. They are in my head somewhere. And that's why it works.

Cristina Amigoni: That is why it works. Yeah. So, now to the art side of change, of leading change. That's where the humans come in. That's where all this planning and all these things that you've done get thrown out the window half the time, because it's humans. And they all react differently. And I would say in the art piece, the number one thing to consider is there's always a human that's going to be impacted. And you're not going to know, fully know, how they're going to take this? What their reaction is going to be? And what that does to your project? 

Alex Cullimore: Yes, that's one of the known unknowns. You can know that this will happen. You can't know when. You can't know exactly what will happen. But know that that is an unknown coming your way. That's something that, over the course of learning to become a coach, has definitely been drilled in. No matter how much you think, matter – somebody brings you a situation and you believe you have been in that exact situation, you don't know. That is not the exact situation. That is that person going through something that sounds similar. But it is them. It is in their time. It is with their experiences. It is their backgrounds. It is all of their concerns. That is what is now impacting that situation for them and it has nothing to do with your experience in it. And so, however much you think you know, it will be foiled a little bit at the very least. Usually a lot bit. 

Cristina Amigoni: Definitely. And that's where you bring in your coaching. I'd say probably the suman side of this, this is when coaching goes in full force. Because it is about leaving your agenda behind and not prioritizing your agenda in pretty much any meeting you walk in. Yes, you can come in with an agenda to move things along. What happens with that agenda? Completely not up to you. Be ready to let that go. And go with where the people are. Understand where they are. Constantly read the energy. Just constantly read the energy. What's the energy in the room at that moment? Because that's what will establish what can be done. What can be implemented? What can be activated? What ideas need to be thought about and brainstormed? The energy will let you know what that is.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. If somebody suddenly gets quiet. If somebody suddenly is upset about something. You may not know what it is. You may have a guess at what it is. Asking them is a great place to start. Listening deeply for when that energy changes. And it can be quiet. It can be somebody who hasn't spoken at all and suddenly they get that extra level of silence where now it's not just they weren't participating. Now they won't participate. There's a sudden shut off. And things like that are key to listen to. To your point, it's like coming into a meeting with an agenda. It could be a meeting about change. I think it happens doubly in meetings about change specifically. But for any meeting, how many times does the agenda just delivered exactly all the way through? It's very hard to do. It's very hard to land. And if you do just stick it exactly according to plan, there's a good chance you missed something that changed in the room, in the reactions, in the how people were feeling about it. You moved on with the plan that you had, which sometimes is good. Sometimes you've move towards the thing that you need to move towards. But if you miss what people are reacting with, you've missed an opportunity. 

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. I would say there, the connective tissue between the management and the leadership is really have a plan. Please have a plan. We cannot stress it enough. Have an agenda when you have a meeting. Do not show up to a meeting without an agenda. But be very ready to let that go. Let go of the fact that it has to happen the way you thought about it. The agenda has to be talked about the way you thought it was going to be talked about. That the plan is going to go exactly as you have written it out. Because that will never happen. And when it doesn't, you plan again and you create a new agenda. You can still have movement. It's not the movement that you created. You're not creating this movie because you're not the only participant in the movie. 

Alex Cullimore: Yes. This is another coaching term, the idea of detached involvement. To be in that space where you are involved enough to do things like create a plan, create an agenda. To create what you think should happen. But you're detached enough to know that when things are different, or that you can't be the one making the change happen. You're just there trying to lead the change. You can't make everybody individually change. That's where you need that detachment from the original plan while simultaneously remaining involved enough to keep planning. And I liked how you said, it doesn't mean you don't have action and forward momentum. And that reminds me that you cannot confuse action with progress. Just moving is not progress. If you need to take a pause because people are in heavy resistance or something unknown has popped up, as it will, and it stalled the project, don't just keep moving to move. Sort it out and make sure you've figured out what needs to actually happen to move forward. Because otherwise you're just carrying some time bomb with you of when this will inevitably come up again. Or you try to ignore it and it just – that will definitely just come knocking like the ghost of change past.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. It is the ghost of change past, and present and future. The future will never get there.

Alex Cullimore: Soon to be future.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Soon to be future. We'll never get there. There's a completely different thing in the future if you don't really let go of the ghost of change past. Yeah, that's a big part. We talked about, you mentioned the change curve and you talk about how that's definitely everybody's going to hit it. So, know that the plan is everybody's going to hit it. The art is recognized when they do. Because they're all going to hit it and recognize when they do and then have a plan for how you're going to deal with them hitting the change curve. 

Alex Cullimore: That's the other part of the art of knowing when they hit it and then knowing – and taking your best guess much more than knowing. Because it's not really possible to know. But taking your best guess as to how to help them through that. Because everybody will hit the curve. The curve may look similarly. But it'll be for different reasons. And the actual ability to resolve that internally for them is going to look different based on the person. Because we're humans. We're unique. And not only are we unique. We are not we're not going to hit the change curve the same way each time whatever we're hitting it on. And we as change leaders, we'll hit this just as much. Whenever we're hitting it on, we'll have a very specific flavor for that moment at that time, and who we are, and all of our baggage and experiences that we bring into that.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, yeah. 

Alex Cullimore: And that's hard as well trying to manage that uniqueness.

Cristina Amigoni: That is hard. And you just touched on an excellent point about the art piece, is that the change curve, and the change is not just happening to everybody else. We're going through it as well. Every time the plan derails, we are going through our own change curve. Understanding that. Being self aware enough to know that we can't derail the project because we can't handle our own change curve, that's a big thing. How is the change impacting me every step of this way? Because it is going to continue to impact me.

Alex Cullimore: Yes. Yeah, that self-empathy. And it can be incredibly helpful to know that about yourself because it also helps you identify that when it's happening for other people. Because if you can reflect, if you can think about, "Oh, wow! I really had a strong reaction to that." Or, "Oh, well, I can see now in retrospect I was in the change curve there." That could help you get a leg up on the empathy you need and the foresight you need to see when somebody else is hitting that. And it's not bad that people hit this. This is normal. This is going to happen. This is not a judgment. I'm like, "Well, here's the person who's now the stick in the mud on this change project." It's not a judgment. It's not something to cast on people. It's something to know because you are now leading a change. Play with all the cards available to you. Know that this is happening and it's not a bad thing.

Cristina Amigoni: Indeed. Indeed. To go back something that you mentioned earlier, which I think is extremely important, is action does not equal progress. Which is kind of back to, yes, we have a plan. We walk in with a plan. Checking things off of the task list, of the plan, that's not progress. And so, measuring the success of the change based on what we've been able to check off, I might as well tell you right now the change is failing. Why waste anybody's time? You're not going to get to success unless your success rate is 10% or lower than that. Progress is getting to the core. Progress is seeing people's behavior change and knowing what you see in that. And progress really is about knowing that something even as small as somebody who used to be silent in meetings now no longer is. That's progress. That's changed. Seeing somebody go through the fear zone. We like to look at the fear, the comfort to growth zones movement when we look at change at leading change. Knowing that somebody is in the fear zone and they have moved from either comfort or learning into fear, that's progress. Something is getting worked on. 

Alex Cullimore: They're afraid because now they're engaging. Now they realize what has to be changed. Or they think there might have to be something to be changed. And that is a step towards that growth and learning zone that you can get into like actually making the changes you need to make. And so, even seemingly a step back like somebody having resistance is good. It's getting them into and engaged in the change. And if at this point you're looking at your phone or wherever you're listening to this on and saying, "Well, this all sounds really difficult." Yes.

Cristina Amigoni: Welcome to the human world. 

Alex Cullimore: Yes. This is not – It's not to make it easier. This is to make it easier. But it's not an inherently easy thing. There are simple things you can do, but they're not easy. It's simple to put together these plans. It's simple to do this. It's simple to continue to put up this plan and to continue to put up the education. And it's not easy to hold on to the basically Ted Lasso-esque believe sign that you have to hold on to occasionally to know that there's progress being made. Because otherwise you move into exactly the pitfall you're talking about where you feel like we have to have action. That's the only way we have progress. If you need those tangible things you're not paying attention to the subtle things like that, that person is now moving, that person is now talking, that person is now in fear. If you're not holding on to those, it's very hard to feel the progress. And even when you are, it's going to be difficult. It's going to feel like you're wandering into the clouds a little bit. And that is expected. It's not bad.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, definitely. I'm sure there's a million more art pieces. But I'll say those are probably the top ones that are part of the art of how to lead change. 

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. And if you'd like to get into that art portion of it, start thinking about coaching skills, because coaching skills are really important; listening, empathy, asking open-ended questions, validating people's experiences, making sure you are there and meeting them where they're at to help them to where they want to go. That I think is core to playing the art part of that really well.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, involved detachment. That's a big one for sure. That's a big skill that can help your change. And knowing that change doesn't happen at the organizational level. It happens at the individual level, which makes it monumentary more complicated than you ever expected it to be. If you actually expect it to just go from Microsoft to Gmail, it's not quite that easy. It's a little easier. Because, well, the Microsoft platform is going to be gone and the Gmail platform is going to be there. But you may end up seeing people throwing airplanes at each other, paper airplanes, to communicate. Or figuring out something else because they can't figure out what the calendar was and how to work the Gmail calendar, which I still haven't figured out. So, hence, why we're still on Microsoft. 

Alex Cullimore: Every single time I try. I don't know. Google, if you're listening, can you fix this? Because I cannot get the calendar right. Microsoft isn't always easy on a lot of these things. But, man, Outlook's great. My calendar invites work. And I don't know why I can't figure out Gmail. Maybe I just haven't done it enough. I take that back, Google. It's on me. I get it. But still, this kind of identifies the point. And I love that as an example. Because, seemingly, there's the exact same functionality between Gmail and Outlook or Microsoft. You can send emails. You can send reminders. You can send calendar invites. And I also avoid Gmail because using the calendar, I'm not going to spend my time figuring out how to do it. 

Cristina Amigoni: And if you're guessing why that matters, it's because, now, I've lost productivity. My day, or most of my days, are now worried about the fact that I have to use a paper calendar because I can't figure out my Google calendar. And then people are not gonna know when I'm available or not. So, the impact, again, think of the ripple effects. It's just a calendar. But it's never just anything. That calendar means frustration, productivity, workarounds, you name it. Problems are going to come up. And instead of actually doing my job and focusing on what's supposed to be, I'm focusing on hating Google calendar. There's energy wasted. 

Alex Cullimore: And I always like to think of it as a fluctuating threshold line of frustration, right? There's there are going to be meetings. Let's say you and I just swapped over to Gmail today. We now use that. At that point, because I know that it's going to take me X amount more time to figure out the calendar invites, there are going to be times where a meeting doesn't feel important enough to me to figure out how to put on the calendar, right? Whereas maybe if it was just a comfortable thing, I just already have it on there. And I may have estimated that correctly, and it's fine, and we all just put a message in Slack that we'll meet at 12:30 and everybody just remembers that and it works out okay. But that threshold, which is my personal threshold for what I've decided is more frustrating than the time I'm willing to invest in Gmail, ends up causing that loss, right? Because there's definitely going to be a time at which I make that assumption that this is going to be too frustrating for me to figure out I don't need to put that on the calendar. Now people don't have that. And now, there's some other turmoil that ends up falling out because of this very thin line of frustration that I personally have experienced and decided that I am not going to move past that threshold because it's not important enough for me to go fight through.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, very true. 

Alex Cullimore: And so if you think about that, that specific line for everybody, that's what you're dealing with on change. You're dealing with what could happen if you don't help people lower that thresholds where they can do the things they need to do? 

Cristina Amigoni: Yep. And if you need tips on how to resolve and transition from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail, just let us know. We have a few ideas on what could help. Telling people that they're intelligent enough to figure it out, not one of the success methods. Just in case. Definitely not. 

Alex Cullimore: Rather than do that like raising a kid or something, you're like, "I'm pretty sure you'll figure out how to feed yourself." Maybe think about this. What else is in play here? 

Cristina Amigoni: Out of necessity. So, yes. Yeah, good luck with the leading change. 

Alex Cullimore: It's very rewarding. It's also very just a lot to consider. A lot that's challenging. But the fact that you can feel like you can help move and create change is both addictive and very rewarding to see happen. And how much experience you get into it than the known unknowns all show up, and they will throw the plan off. And, again, it doesn't make it not worth putting the plan out there.

Cristina Amigoni: Mm-hmm. Definitely. Yep. Yeah. Call us if you have any other questions on change. We won't know the answers, but we're happy to talk about it. 

Alex Cullimore: Because if there's one thing we can know now, it's that we can get to the answer.

Cristina Amigoni: We can help you get to the answers. 

Alex Cullimore: That's what gets easier, is knowing it with enough experience that you can get there even if every time it feels like I'm figuring that out and figuring out what to do to get there. 

Cristina Amigoni: And thanks for listening. 

Alex Cullimore: Thank you for listening.

Cristina Amigoni: Thank you for listening to Uncover the Human, a Siamo podcast. 

Alex Cullimore: Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard, Jake Lara; and our score creator, Rachel Sherwood. 

Cristina Amigoni: If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Alex Cullimore: We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas or questions. You can reach us at podcast wearesiamo.com, or at our website, wearesiamo.com, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. We Are Siamo is spelled W-E A-R-E S-I-A-M-O.

Cristina Amigoni: Until next time, listen to yourself, listen to others and always uncover the human.