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Rationalization Trap

 

Disciplines > Change Management > Creating Change > Rationalization trap

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Get them doing something for some trivial reason. Ask them nicely. Put something in their way that they will naturally do.

Then help them explain to themselves why it is important and why they are doing it.

When they have bought doing small things, get them doing increasingly significant things.

Example

A senior manager who has been doubtful is asked to speak at a meeting about the importance of a change project. She does so, and later is seen in a corridor, reinforcing the importance of the change with several other managers. With more encouragement and being given a slide set to help, they are soon presenting to the executive board on the subject.

Discussion

People have a deep need for consistency, and when they do something they need to have consistency and alignment between their actions and their beliefs. When there is inconsistency, they must either change what they are doing or what they belief in order to restore consistency. If they have already started doing something, then they cannot change what has been done, so they must change what they believe, particularly 'Why I am doing this'.

Another reason for consistency is that we worry that others who think about us (and seek to predict what we will do) will be confused and reject us as we transgress values. We thus have a strong need to explain what we are doing to others. This works internally, too, and we tell ourselves the reasons for our actions.

It is important that the person is unable to rationalize why they acted in this way by thinking about the encouragement they were given. Thus, for example, the person should not be paid or commanded to act, otherwise they may rationalize that they did it for the money or the boss, not because they really believed it was the right thing to do.

See also

MacGuffin, Consistency principle, Rationality

 

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