Alarm Will Sound

"Welcome abroad. I'm running down to the mall to grab a cup of coffee. Want to join me?" asked Mike, my office neighbor. It was my first day on the job, and I gladly accepted. We worked on the 16th floor of a office building that was attached to the downtown mall.

He walked me through the maze of hallways and elevators to arrive at a local coffee shop. On our way back, he walked right through a door that said, "Emergency Exit - Do not enter, alarm will sound."

When the alarm didn't sound, I asked him how he knew it wouldn't. He said he learned from years of working retail that the larger the sign, the less likely there was an actual alarm.

The other day, I was in a meeting where the presenter was describing how easy a new computer system was going to be to use. She stressed her point by playing the Jackson 5 song ABC, hitting the line "easy as 1, 2, 3." She really stressed it was easy, and I thought of that emergency exit lesson. Same principle. The louder the claims of easy change, the less likely it will be.

Don't oversell your change initiative. Let the actions and processes and steps and systems and changes speak for themselves.