Changing one mind at a time: Influencing behaviour in legal KM projects

Together with co-author Shimrit Janes we published an article in the Ark Group’s latest publication called Legal Knowledge Management: Insights and Practice (link to the TOC and a sample). The article looks at crucial success factors of such change projects, but zooms in on the most daunting task: influencing people and their behaviour.

Examples of truly effective KM programmes in the legal sector can be difficult to find. Challenges such as securing budget, engaging leadership and employees in the necessary change process and influencing their behaviour can all stand in the way of a succesful project. The article looks at crucial success factors of such change projects, but ultimately zooms in on the most daunting task: influencing people and their behaviour.


Changing behaviours

Change is hard. The ‘9x effect’ states that people tend to weigh the benefits of something new by a factor of three, and equally also overweigh the cost of what they have learned by a factor of three. Thus, something new needs to be nine times more appealing than the status quo. Whilst the ‘9x effect’ is more a rule of thumb than hard science, it is a useful story for illustrating why overseeing a change project can be so hard.

We should be under no illusion; implementing new social tools within a KM programme requires change. This is not just because of new interfaces and functionality. More importantly, they break with long-learned behaviour patterns in the enterprise. In order to be valuable to the firm and its people, these technologies require its users to share instead of hoard their knowledge; ‘work out loud’ instead of either alone or within their confined team; to trust and be open instead of control and being secretive; and to actively build their own reputation, instead of passively relying on their manager to choose them for promotion.

The Influencer Framework

There are two fundamental elements that impact the probability of someone changing their behaviour: motivation and ability. Simply having the motivation to change does not mean you have the ability to do so, and vice versa. Consequently, both elements need to be considered in equal amount when trying to influence people to change.

This logic lies at the heart of a framework developed by Patterson et al. called ‘The Influencer Framework’. It can be used in any situation and context in which encouraging change is necessary. It is not, however, a change management model in and of itself. Rather, the framework can be appliedto different elements of a wider change management programme, for example to communication promotion, education and coaching, and technology selection. The framework identifies six sources of influence as shown in Table 1.

IDPotential HurdlePotential Remedy
1a"I don’t understand what a good practice is"Collect examples of what a good practice is and present them.

Ask GDLs to provide examples and name EEs they know had a good practice / idea in the past but potentially not documented. Get in touch specifically with these people and ask them individually to contribute. Don’t ask the group! This only creates group-thinking, where everyone thinks that others will contribute! Offer help to these individuals in writing the good practice, so they don’t have to think about the format and can save time.
1b"I don’t have a good practice"This obviously might be true. However, I would ask people to think about what they might be doing differently to what they learned in the trainings. Ask them what they might have changed in the process in the past three months. Ask them what end users have frequently asked about and based on their requests, EE might remember what they changed in the process to make it easier for end users.
2"I am not sure whether the thing I changed / do differently constitutes as good practice"See 1a
3"I don’t know what happens if I do share good practice 
(positive)"Explain what happens if they submit a good practice

- Recognition - from whom? e.g. line manager, factory director, sponsor, senior management? Explain 

- Example: Good practice booklet featuring the person’s good practice. SVP will sign a copy.
- Example: SVP doing another video after the Community Jam naming the individuals.
- Person will be highlighted at Community Jam
- Person can present his best practice idea on stage or in a world café or other suitable formats
- Internal Communications Department will write an article on the intranet about the Community Jam and link to the good practice and name some of the contributors.
4"I don’t know what happens if I do share good practice 
(negative)"Person might be afraid of being contacted by others, might be afraid he needs to present it at the Community Jam, might be afraid of being called out in front of a large audience, which makes him uncomfortable.

Explain clearly what will happen / not happen.
5"I don’t know in what format, what channel, with whom I need to share the good practice"Suggest a format / template, channel and contact person.

Make it as easy as possible to contribute. Even suggest to take 30 minute of their time for interviewing and then you writing up the good practice.

If there is a template, what are the headlines?

Are there categories for good practices?
6"I don’t have time"This usually means, it is not a priority. Make it desirable and easy to contribute.
7"I don’t care"This is just a statement on the surface. The true WHY they do not care is below the surface. (see 3, 4, 8, 9, 11)
8"I don’t share with people I don’t know"This is obviously a catch22, because most people will only meet in September at the Community Jam for the first time. Try to understand current connections. Highlight the recent visit to one of the factories and support given there. If you know someone from locations that did a visit at another location, make it personally and try to argue that his good practice could potentially benefit person XYZ at the factory he visited. Another idea: Try to make it more urgent. For example, in the past 6 months we had X number of new EE come on board (drop some names in some locations). Thus they are new in their role, need to learn a lot and want to learn a lot. Most EE will remember the time they were onboarded and new in their role. Thus, there is now an emotional connection because people can relate to these new EE and their situation.  It is all about making people care by making it personal and relate to the needs of others.
9"I don’t know what personal benefit I have from taking time to contribute"Recognition, appreciation, gratification, line manager support

I would not think of financial rewards or incentives.
10"I don’t know what benefit my factory (factory manager, line manager) has"Think about how the factory can benefit from having a good practice from their factory appearing in different channels. Same approach as in Hurdle 11. Play to the selfish behaviour of a factory director.
11"My line manager wants me to focus on other things"How can we make sure the line manager supports this? For example, highlighting what is in it for him. That could mean, wherever the good practice is mentioned, it also mentions the line manager. It is about social currency and also becoming visible within the organisation and potentially being recognised! Play to the selfish behaviour of people!

Table 1: An adapted version of The Influencer Framework

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