Barriers

I’ve been thinking about barriers a lot lately.  It seems like whenever a new innovation rises to the top, there are a number of barriers we need to overcome before we can take advantage of the innovation.  I’m not sure who said this, but someone once said that “Roadblocks are there to make you show how badly you want something.” I think I agree with this statement mostly, and often find myself trying to overcome barriers.  As a person who typically pushes change, regardless of the form it takes, I’ve had some experiences overcoming barriers and thought I’d share my experiences.

  • The first thing I typically do is explain clearly the innovation.  Most people don’t like change because it’s easier to keep doing what they’re already doing, even if there are potential benefits in changing.
  • Next I listen to my audience.  People being targeted for change need to have time to process the innovation and they will naturally have questions.  This also gives me the opportunity to address any misconceptions the audience may have about the innovation.
  • As questions come up, I try to find examples of the innovation.  If I can’t find an example, I do my best to create an example of my own.  Allowing the audience to see the innovation can help them develop a better conceptual understanding of the innovation and will remove some barriers.
  • At about this time, I usually take time to find the people in the school who might be most interested in the innovation and target them for early adoption.  This again expands the opportunity for others to see the innovation while allowing some to actually try the innovation.  This is a crucial time in the adoption process since the early adopters are going to develop a favorable or unfavorable opinion about the innovation.  Therefore I do my best to make sure these early adopters are supported in whatever way they need.
  • At this point, I usually am limited to supporting those adopting the innovation and trying to persuade other would be adopters.  The best path to success here is by word of mouth of those who are the pulse or opinion leaders of the school.

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of things you can do to overcome barriers to implement change, but these are the common steps I take.  Frustration is often the biggest barrier to change and I find that if there is a process to follow, frustration and other barriers can be minimized.  If you’d like to learn more about change and how to make it happen, check out Diffusions of Innovations.  It’s a bit of a read, but it does give a good perspective on how to approach change.  If you’re the Wikipedia type, here’s the Diffusions of Innovations page.

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2 thoughts on “Barriers

  1. Interesting post, Dan. There will always be early adopters and then those who have their feet stuck in the mud. Picking a few of the lower-tech staff and involving them as change leaders can help everyone move along, rounding out the process of implementing innovation. Looking forward to more of your posts!

  2. That’s a good point. Sometimes the people you need to win over are the opinion leaders in the school. They often won’t be the most innovative or necessarily an early adopter. If you want real change, those are the people you need to target.

    Thanks for commenting!

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