I deal with change on a daily basis, often in organisations where I am trying to drive it. Change can be a real challenge because people are not often big fans of it. For change to stick, there are generally 3 big things we should consider…
1. There needs to be a case for change
It is very tricky to get people to do something different if they don’t accept that there is something wrong with the way they are doing things currently. Change requires effort, and we are inherently lazy, so changing without a reason is not likely to work. In our case, my daughter (aged 8) had two good reasons.
Firstly, she believed that animals were frequently mistreated and secondly she understands that by reducing demand for red meat, we can influence the supply of red meat which in turn reduces greenhouse gases. She presented a good case for change.
2. You need to understand the risks and issues associated with the change
Change is not without risk or challenge, these must just be assessed to determine if the change is worth it. For us, we encountered two big challenges. Firstly, we have two celiacs in the family (if you don’t know what a celiac is, please do me a favour and look it up, consider if you might have celiac disease and respond accordingly. It is more common than people realise and severely underdiagnosed.)
So, two celiacs means we have to be meat free AND gluten free. That significantly raises the difficulty level for us. The second challenge is that my daughter advocating the change is not what one might call a “fan” of vegetables. If she wants to make this change, she is going to have to really commit to increasing the range of things she will eat.
3. There must be a viable or reasonable alternative
To encourage people to accept change or even embrace change, we need to provide a viable alternative. It’s no good highlighting a “burning platform” and not provide some solutions. We need the “as is” AND the “to be” to help stakeholders get involved. For our soon to be vegetarian family (two of whom can also not eat any gluten) we needed delicious and nutritious menu options. My youngest daughter (age 6) is proving to be the most difficult stakeholder to engage. No logic will prevail, and in our house we have a “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” policy when it comes to obstinate children. So we are planning menus that can hopefully tick all the boxes.
It’s ok if the “to be” doesn’t look exactly like you expected on Day 1 of the journey
I am not going to lie, I just threw this one in because we did not quite get to our desired outcome. Change is hard, we had a clear objective of eating a vegetarian diet. We had serious constraints of auto-immune disorders and fussy eaters that are prepared to whine for 3 hours straight. We are currently not eating red meat but have kept fish, free range eggs and dairy in the diet. So not quite our stated objectives, but certainly a long way to addressing the issues we were trying to resolve at the beginning of the journey.