(b) What looks like restistance, is often a lack of clarity

Contract automation and resistance. An unmotivated elephant can doom a change effort, but also a rider has weaknesses. The rider deliberates and analyses, over-analyse and over-thinks. If riders are unsure what direction to go exactly, they tend to keep walking in circles. That tendency explains the third surprise about change: what looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.

  • Health researchers, in their attempt to change people to eat ‘healthier’, knew that people are more likely to change if the new behaviour expected was crystal-clear; and if you think about it, an appeal to ‘eat healthier’ is anything but clear. General health-campaigns ‘to eat healthier’ do not lead to any noticeable changes of consumer behaviour.
  • If people switched from whole-milk to skim-milk, the average diet would immediately attain the recommended levels of saturated fat. How do you make people to drink skim-milk? The answer is: if they manage to have it in their fridge (most people drink whatever is in the house). Such approach may shift the perspective: no need to change drinking behaviour but to change purchasing behaviour. Their ‘health campaign’ was clear and precise, focused on skim-milk, with small and easy-to-grasp facts (visualised by a tube filled with the dirty fat distilled from whole-milk). After the campaign, the number of people who ate according to the recommended levels doubled and remained.

This brings Chip and Dan Heath to another aspect of what characterises successful changes: If you want people to change, you must provide crystal-clear direction. If you are familiar with the paralysing psychology of keeping-all-options-open, you will understand the paramount importance of a rider pointing at the precise direction. Otherwise, the elephant will start to circle around or to resist (especially if it looks like a useless effort). Again: what looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.

Example: building a clause library. If you are preparing for contract automation, you must not allow everyone to hand in their personal models and accept that by definition, their clauses will end up in the central clause library. That does not contribute to consensus or ‘joint ownership’, it is ‘yet another’ repository (at best gradually better than individual sample-clause folders). You should establish the process, with quality safeguards, a safe environment to share comments, and a roadmap to a clause library that makes your team members’ contract know-how also accessible for a next generation of lawyers.

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