Improving Personal Capability to Embrace New Ideas

We held a push-up competition several years ago at my house. Some of my sons could easily do 20 push-ups, but one in particular couldn’t do any (he was … 7?). “Dad, I can’t even do one” he said to me. “That’s because you’ve never tried,” I replied. “Work on doing one. And then tomorrow do one again. And the next day again. And the next day, try to do two.”

And so he did. And he could. And now he can do more than all of us. There was a time that he was doing at least 100 every day, and tracking them annually on a spreadsheet.

You can’t ask someone who has never practiced push-ups to drop and do 50. But you could ask them to try to do one, or half of one, or half of one on their knees.

What’s true of push-ups is true for embracing new ways of working at work. You can’t ask someone who has never practiced the skills of working collaboratively to switch it up from 0% to 100%. That’s too much change – too much progress even – in too short of a time span.

But you can ask them to do one thing today, such as:

  • Read a blog post and write a thoughtful comment.
  • Save an in-progress document to a SharePoint document library, and allow others to read the not-yet-finished document.
  • Ask a question in Yammer, not in email.
  • Search for expertise on Office 365, instead of asking someone nearby.
  • View a plan in Microsoft Planner, and move one of the items they are working on to a new column (bucket).
  • Create a OneNote notebook and use a page for taking notes at their next meeting.

And then again tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. And then two the next day. And then a bit more on those two the next day.

Before you know it, they’ll be chomping at the bit for more for themselves and their team, and you won’t be able to keep up with demand.

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