Two Change Management Lessons from a 2 Year Old

It was like any other weekend morning. We had two important tasks in the morning – 1) Give my 2 year old his glass of milk 2) Make brunch.

Lesson #1: Make stakeholders part of the change

I removed the seal from a brand new can of milk, flipped it open, and was pouring it into a glass. My intent was to warm it up for my 2 year old. My 2 year old was watching me from his high-chair. As I finished pouring the milk, he told me “daddy it is the other milk“.

I checked and it wasn’t the same brand that we usually buy from our local Stop & Shop retail store. He discerned that from the label and more specifically from the cap of the can. I didn’t even take a moment to think of it and have no idea how my 2 year old knew all about it.

I just told him “it is the same milk” & continued. He was now clearly bothered, daddy wasn’t giving him the milk he knew/liked. His voice grew louder and he kept telling “it is the other milk” and he even called his mom to complain. I pursued and told him no “it is the same milk & I will make it lukewarm“.

After heating it in the microwave, I put it into his usual Mickey Mouse cup and handed it to him. I reinforced – “it is the same milk & it is yummy“. He took a sip and told me “it is not good daddy; it is cold, and it is the other milk”.

Nothing had changed. Just about everything like the timer on microwave, the container to heat the milk, the quantity in it, the time of the day, and the routine was just the same except the brand of the milk. Now it was down to tantrum.

I simply unbuckled him from his high-chair, told him to come help daddy make it right. He eyes lit up. I held him as he pressed the express cooking option on our Microwave. After ~45 seconds, we pulled the same milk out of the Microwave. It was now hotter and he had to wait for ~5 extra minutes before he could drink it.

Now there wasn’t a problem anymore. He claimed to his mommy that he had helped daddy warm up the milk, it was by his toys, and he was going to drink it when it was just warm enough.For me it was a simple reinforcement of the following:

Make people part of the change. They will work with you even if the combined outcome falls short of specifications“.

Lesson #2: Activate the motivations

We were now onto our brunch. I pulled out a pancake mix and as I was making it, the 2 year old asked me what was it. I told him that I was going to make his favorite pancake and we were going to have pancakes shaped like alphabets. He wasn’t very impressed (which is very unusual).

I asked him if he would like waffle instead of pancake and my motive was to excite him, repurpose the batter, and get him used to another thing. He had other motivation. He said that his friend Ben at day care ate waffle and he loves waffles. His ability to recognize what his friends ate and then relay it to us was a new one. I was stumped & then I recovered to say – we are going to make waffle and he is going to eat it like Ben.

All is well that ends well. He loved the waffle, exercised portion control, and was a well behaved child at the brunch table. For me it was a simple reinforcement.

Take the time to understand & activate the motivations. People will make efforts to embrace the change“.

In Conclusion

My 2 year old just helped me practice 2 important change management lessons. As I wrap up this blog I wonder how my mother managed my tantrum – simply take away the milk from me or definitively say we are eating pancakes period (come on board). As a matter of fact – it worked with me at least.

Now without overthinking all this, I am reveling in the fact that my boy told me I nove you (nove = love as he is still mastering pronunciations).

#ChangeManagement #Leadership

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