Want Engagement? Leave a big gaping hole in your rollout plan

You’re waiting in a doctor’s office. In the waiting room is a table with a puzzle on it. Incomplete. It’s within easy reach. Do you drop a few pieces into place to pass the time?

You can reference neuroscience or theories of gestalt or the popularity of the New York Times crossword to arrive at a conclusion: We love to solve problems. There is satisfaction in putting the final piece in place.

The workplace is a complex environment. Leaders bring order out of chaos by defining a future state and creating structures (process, policy, technology) to help us get there.

But what if the picture was incomplete? What if leaders provided the border of the puzzle, a verbal description of the picture they are trying to attain, and asked people to help fill in the middle? Well, I’d say we have a recipe for engagement!

Changing Your Mind

As a consultant, I was trained to find and deliver the answer. That can be the worst thing to do for my clients. It often leads to shelfware. Buy-in is stronger and learning much longer-lasting when leaders pursue answers within the framework I provide. I guide and nudge them towards the pieces, but they put them in place.

You may have the next change all planned out. Your change lead may have a lock on the impact assessment and devised a strategy to get people from point A to B. Now STOP and take a moment to consider the power of leaving some gaps which employees and stakeholders can resolve on their own.

What might happen when you say: “Yes, I have a plan, but I’m very interested in what you see as critical for getting us to the finish line. Is that something we can work on together?”

When they inform you what they need to win, and you deliver, what does that do to credibility, motivation, and ownership?

Mind the gap: Leave space for innovation and engagement.

Thoughtfully yours,

Jeff Skipper

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Jeff Skipper
Jeff Skipper is an expert in accelerating change. Clients such as Shell, Goldman Sachs and The Salvation Army have engaged him to achieve dramatic results during strategic transformation by wrapping complex change in motivating mission. He has been quoted in Fast Company, Forbes and HP’s enterprise.nxt. Jeff holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Change Management Professional.