Making the Leap to OPEN: A Psychological Movement

Colleagues and friends Si Alhir, Mark Ferraro, and Donald Gould and I are continuously pushing the envelope with new ideas on how best to help our clients. “Are they in a better place than they were yesterday?” is a revisited question. From our conversation, a “place” can be both psychological and/or physical.

When transforming an organization its critical that leadership takes ownership over the transformation, and that includes complete buy-in to the process and results being delivered. Many leaders we find are open-minded to change, but are closed-minded when it comes to actually making the change (design vs execution). Getting a leader to make the leap to Open is big step in enabling an organization to take the first steps to actually make the change. The leap to Open takes a great deal of psychological strength from the reluctant Leader. However, if the Transformation Coach is well skilled, it will take little effort on their part to force a psychological capitulation to the Open mindset.

In the Art of War it is surmised that when surrounding your enemy, always provide a clear exit, so the enemy feels they have a chance of survival, this will give them the choice of surrendering. For if the enemy feels there is no chance of escape, they will most likely kill themselves off, leaving you with no leverage. In the case when helping a Leader make the leap to Open, its important that they know you as the Transformation Coach and the organization as a whole, have no intention of leaving the situation or abandoning the transformation, and reality will set in that they are surrounded. And because this is 2015 and we are talking about organizations, exits are always available… and clearly marked. And the leader will then have a choice, and will most likely decide its best to make the leap to Open.

An additional tactic to surround the leader is to “dimensionalize” the transformation by bringing it into the physical world.  In one scenario, we had roadmaps created using sticky notes and tables with tape denoting the delivery quarters. We brought the leader into this room to further display the reality of the transformation and the efforts being exerted by others within the organization to take them to a better place. This further pushed the leader to make the leap to Open.

By applying both the psychological ‘surround and drown’ (but provide an exit) aspects with the physical dimensional aspects of the transformation, a Transformation Coach can apply a small amount of energy and produce the large level of energy needed by the leader to shift his/her mindset and make the leap to Open.


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