208 – Improving service operations. Implement with motivational interviewing.

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                                               500 words

innovation diffusion


Earlier posts have described how to improve service operations by developing a service action plan and redesigning services. This post looks at how to implement a redesigned service. You may have noticed that not everyone is excited by the prospect of change.

Having said that, some people like change. Others could be frustrated by the current situation. These people could be innovators or early adopters who will readily accept the need to change. The Rogers Innovation Diffusion Curve shows the rate at which a new idea spreads through a group.   In any group contemplating change you are likely to have people from each of the groups identified on the curve. Some are going to accept the change more easily than others.

A colleague recently taught me a useful way to help all groups, including the laggards, to engage with new ideas. It was demonstrated by Gregory Bayne of Total Leader and Coach Solutions, Australia.  It is designed to overcome resistance to change and is based on motivational interviewing techniques.

The new idea needs to be known to all those involved. For example, the new service design could be on the table for discussion. The technique can be used with individuals or groups. To start, it requires you to draw a simple quadrant on a whiteboard. Label the columns and the rows as shown below. Make sure there is enough room to write in the boxes.

motivational interviewing quadrant 1

The next step is to ask the group to list all of the positive features of the current situation in the ‘current/upside’ box. It is important to start here because it gives those who like the status quo first say. These people are often the ones to resist change.

Next, ask the group what they think is wrong with the proposed new situation or idea. Make a list in the ‘future/downside’ box. Again, the resistors will be able to highlight their concerns about the proposed change.

The order of each step is important.

The third step is to go back to the current situation and ask the group to list what is wrong with the current situation in the ‘current/downside’ box. Now, the innovators and early adopters have a chance to be critical of the current situation.

Finally, ask the group to list what they think might be the positive features of the proposed new situation or idea.

motivational interviewing quadrant

At this point the difference between the positive features of the current situation and proposed future situation can be compared. It is possible that there will be little difference. The group may be surprised.

A further step can be added by viewing the information in the boxes through a ‘lens’ or multiple lenses in turn. By a lens, I mean a particular viewpoint on the situations. For example, how does it look if you view it through the lens of improving safety or customer service or efficiency?

In applying each lens, you just go back over each of the lists in the boxes in the order you made them and tick those features that still stand and cross those that don’t. At the end of this step, quite a different picture might emerge of what the group thinks about the current and future situations.

Change in the context of the lens may look far more compelling to everyone, including the laggards.