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Breaking through the Cassandra Complex by Richard North (Musings of a Data Geek)

So we all know about the Cassandra Complex from a previous post? Take time to read it. Done that? Good! So here is part two - getting your colleagues to believe in what you are saying, and act on your requests.

When you work in a governance, compliance or data quality role within an organisation, it can be very hard to persuade people that your proposals are correct. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen, is that professionals push for their own agendas without taking time to understand the people they are trying to convince. This brings me neatly to my first step:

1. Conduct an opinion survey
Find out exactly what your colleagues are thinking throughout the organisation. The ideal way is to construct an anonymous opinion survey where they are just asked for department, area and role. Here is a great site that helps you construct on line surveys. You have probably seen the kind of questionnaire. You list common opinions (both good and bad), and they fill in whether they agree or disagree with them. The results of this survey will be the basis for your communications strategy, but one of the amazing things about surveys is, they are also great tools to get people to evaluate their beliefs.

2. Prioritise the biggest areas of concern
Perhaps you discover that your colleagues don't believe they can make a difference. Perhaps they don't understand how important their role is. They may not care about the consequences of getting things wrong. They may even be too afraid of reprisals to talk about problems they are having. Find your top problems for each department.

Now for each high priority damaging opinion, you need to build a communications strategy that does the following:

3. Create uncertainty about the damaging opinions
The first thing you should do is to make them feel less certain about these opinions. Refer to occasions where their opinion would not have worked. Quote the relevant statistics that contradict them. Ask them whether this opinion serves them and your customers well enough.

4. Reduce their resistance to the opinions you want them to have
This is where you start to introduce why your opinion is better for them, your customers and the company as a whole.

5. Amplify your new attitude
Reframing opinions brings out changes in attitude. Once a change of attitude happens, it is important that you don't just stop there. You have to paint a vivid and inspiring picture of just how great things are going to be for everyone involved. This is often referred to as "encouraging the heart".

6. Test your results
Conduct another survey after your comms has been implemented. Compare it against the previous one. What has changed? Has anything improved? What are the lessons learned?

Remember, just conducting a survey will greatly change the attitudes of your colleagues. It will also show that you value their opinion, which can be one of the barriers. Also, being able to profile the beliefs and values of a department before you meet with them will give you plenty of help in understanding the problems they have on a day-to-day basis.

Once you understand your colleagues opinions and beliefs, you can change their attitude and gain the behaviour and co-operation that you need.

Note: Click here to see the original Musings of a Data Geek post

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