System Versus Self

Imagine that you’re the conductor of a trolley. It has numerous stops and is headed to Greenville. People board your trolley because they want to go to Greenville, and you sell them tickets and off you go. Once the trolley is full of passengers, you decide that you actually want to go to Redville, so you steer the trolley in that direction at the next interchange. To your shock, at the stop after that everyone gets off and demands a refund for the remaining fare.

Doesn’t seem very strange to you, right? But replace “trolley” & “passengers” with “company” and “employees,” and it’s like everyone forgets.

Remember, no matter what system you’ve built – people don’t join up because they believe in that system. They join up because it gets them what they want. If the system changes, they might not go along for the ride. If you expect that every passenger will go along with every change simply because it’s obvious to you that it’s a good change for the system overall, you will be frustrated and disappointed often.

Before steering the trolley to Redville, before you even begin to plan the route, you have to sell Redville to your passengers. They can always find another trolley if you don’t.

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