Change Agent Tip #27: Look Under the Wrapper
The Easter holiday season has just wrapped up. Last week was one of the peak periods of the year for chocolate sales. Store aisles and end caps were stacked high with bunnies, bars, baskets and all sizes and shapes of chocolate delights.
Anyone who stuffed an Easter basket for their kids this past week, or fed their own seasonal cocoa craving, may have also noticed that the price of chocolate treats was a bit higher this year.
Question: What do chocolate prices & resistance to change have in common?
Answer: They both require us to look beneath the surface to discover what’s really going on.
The Money Behind The Bunny: First let’s look under the foil wrapper to better understand a few things that may contribute to the rising or falling cost of confections year-to-year.
The price you’ll pay for that annual dose of cocoa-sugar shock can be impacted by many factors including the price of raw materials, the cost of manufacturing & delivery, the overhead costs of the stores, etc.
Last year’s big chocolate price news around Easter time was a near civil war in the small African nation of Ivory Coast. This region produces over 40% of the world’s cocoa.
Alassane Ouattara had been declared the winner of the November 2010 Ivory Coast presidential election over incumbent Laurent Gbagbo. However, Gbagbo refused to step down and this set off massive civil unrest, which in turn threatened a huge portion of the world’s cocoa supply.
In some cases, cocoa bean inventories were stacked up in warehouses and dumped on loading docks until they spoiled. Manufacturers lacked the raw materials needed to keep up with production demand and prices went up to reflect the diminished supply.
Click the picture on the left of some raw cocoa and a bag of beans to read more about how political unrest in Ivory Coast impacted 2011 Easter confection prices.
But Wait, I Thought That Was Settled? Sometimes the main influence on finished chocolate prices in one year is a virtual non-factor the next! Case in point, the price of chocolate bunnies in London-area grocery stores have gone up considerably this year even though Ivory Coast supply issues are now more settled and the price of cocoa on the world market has dropped.
This “Cocoaflation” could have something to do with other worldwide economic problems, price hikes to cover labor costs, or a host of other things. Click the picture on the right of a loaded candy shelf to read more about this year’s Easter chocolate market situation.
From Chocolate to Change… Nearly all significant changes face some form of resistance during the process of adoption. Rather than telling people to simply “overcome resistance to change” or allowing the negative forces to water down the expected results of their change, I advise clients to seek first to understand it and then lean into it so they can address the challenge directly at its source.
Let’s Crack Off a Piece: The first step to gaining a true understanding of resistance can be tough, but it’s critical. In my next article, I’ll illustrate how sometimes Change Agents need to look deeper than what’s visible on the surface to uncover the root causes behind resistance to change.
In the heat of the change adoption battle, it can be tough to look beyond the strong words and raw emotions – but the payoff will come when you’re able to help stakeholders solve their underlying concerns and move ahead with adapting to their new reality.
Question for Chatter:
- What can go wrong if we charge ahead and attempt to overcome resistance without first unwrapping it by listening to the underlying concerns expressed by stakeholders?