Information is the Problem. What's the Solution?
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Information is the Problem. What's the Solution?
by: Sharon Drew Morgen
Information, when used to influence or sell, has cost us untold loss in
business and relationships. It actually causes resistance.
INFORMATION CAUSES RESISTANCE
For some reason, we maintain a long-standing belief that if we offer the
right people the right information at the right time, presented in the right
way, those it’s intended to influence will be duly impressed and adopt it. But
that’s erroneous. Just think how often we
• patiently explain to our kids why something is bad for them,
• present a well-considered idea to our boss,
• offer great data as rationale to lead change initiatives,
• offer brilliant pitches to prospects to explain our solution
and how often our brilliant delivery and logical (and probably accurate)
argument is not only ignored but rebuffed. Certainly the ineffective behaviors
continue regardless of the logic of the information we offer. Are they just
stupid? Irrational? We’re 'right' of course: we’ve got the rational argument and
But do we?
We don’t. And we’re wrong. We’re actually creating resistance, losing
business, destroying relationships, and impeding change.
Here’s why. When we present rational data, or make arguments based on logic
or wisdom or knowledge, and hope it will sway an opinion or get a new decision
made, we’re putting the cart before the horse. While the data itself may be
terrific, the timing we use to present it stinks. You see, until there’s
internal buy-in for change people have no place to put the information.
As outsiders – leaders, sales professionals, coaches, managers - we are
engaged to amend the status quo of clients, prospects, or staff, using
information as the rationale for change. But information does not teach someone
how to change: information is a knowledge issue, not a behavior choice. Change
is a systems problem, not a misunderstanding problem.
Let me explain. People and teams, companies and families, are each unique
systems with components that buy-in to agreed-upon rules -idiosyncratic beliefs
and maps of the world - and determine our behaviors. So someone, or a company,
with ‘green’ beliefs won’t adopt non sustainable activities, and who/whatever is
uncomfortable with these accepted beliefs aren’t admitted into the system.
OFFER INFORMATION ONLY WHEN SYSTEM READY FOR CHANGE
It is only when parts of the system seek a new level of excellence and can
figure out how to change without disruption will any sort of change be
considered, regardless of our initiatives as outsiders to influence the change.
If the system had recognized the need to change and knew how to fix it
congruently they would have fixed the problem already.
At the point the need for change is considered, even by a small part of the
system, the system must get buy-in from everything and everyone that will touch
the new solution and knows how to change its underlying rules in a way that
insures minimal disruption. In other words, no buy-in/no agreed-upon safe route
forward = no change considered = no information accepted: the information
doesn’t fit anywhere, can’t be heard, can't be understood. We end up pushing
valid data into a closed system that doesn’t recognize the need for it.
Telling kids why they should clean their rooms, telling prospects why your
solution is better, telling managers to use new software doesn’t create the
hoped-for change, regardless of how cogent the information except where the
kids, buyers, managers were already set up to/seeking change and know how to
move forward congruently (i.e. the low hanging fruit).
Here are a couple of simple examples.
- As you run out the door to get your daughter to school your spouse says,
“I think we should move.” Huh! “We’ll speak more tonight,” you reply. On
your way home you notice a great house for sale and you buy it. Do you think
the information about the house is relevant to your family at that point
(even if it’s the perfect house)?
- You and your team are getting ready to launch a new product you’ve been
developing for two years. Your boss tells you the company has been bought
out and it may affect the launch, certainly effects next year’s budget, your
work location, and the team. Then a sales person calls selling team building
software. Do you think the information about the software is relevant at
this point (even if it’s a perfect solution)?
- You’re a consultant hired to lead a team through a reorganization. The
team is stable, has been working successfully together for three years and
enjoys great productivity and camaraderie. Do you think the information
about the rationale of reorganization will be adopted effortlessly and
It’s not about the need or efficacy: change cannot happen until the system
knows who or what:
- will be affected by the new solution;
- an acceptable solution should be that considers all;
- the criteria that must be met;
- the parameters for change to ensure minimal disruption;
- the level of buy-in or change necessary;
- the new rules and norms that must be adopted.
As I say in Dirty Little Secrets: the system is sacrosanct. We learned about
homeostasis in 6th grade: anything that is seen to be pushing the system out of
balance will create resistance. Giving information to any part of the system
before everything is managed first merely causes resistance as the system fights
And so, our brilliant, necessary, cogent information gets ignored, resisted,
objected to, or misunderstood and we must handle the ubiquitous objections and
resistance. Hence long sales cycles and implementation problems.
Conventional sales, marketing, training, coaching, and leadership models use
sharing and gathering information at their core. I’ve developed a model called
Buying Facilitation? which is a generic decision facilitation model that enables
a system to manage change and manage all of the behind-the-scenes elements
needed to garner buy-in first; information is offered once there is agreement
for adoption. If you’re a coach, negotiator, seller, purchasing agent, leader,
doctor, or implementer add it into your current skills. Then when it's to offer
information, your clients will be ready for it and eager to accept it.
Or consider purchasing
the bundle: Dirty Little Secrets plus my last book Buying
Facilitation?: the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions.
These books were written to be read together, as they offer the full complement
of concepts to help you learn and understand Buying Facilitation? - the new
skill set that gives you the ability to lead buyers through their buying
Contributor: Sharon Drew Morgen
Published here on: 26-Jan-14