How to Change Your Workplace (Transcript)

How to Change Your Workplace

Tuesday, June 27, 2022

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Adam Grant:
One day I got a call from a hospital that was working on a major change initiative. A committee of surgeons had identified a customer service problem. Basically, patients weren’t happy. And after 8 months of work, they were getting ready to roll out a big fix. They were going to train the entire smile more. I was appalled. When the surgeons saw that patients were dissatisfied, they immediately went and studied organizations with the happiest customers–and picked Disney and the Ritz Carlton. Not exactly the best fit for a hospital. There were a bunch of legitimate reasons that patients were miserable–starting with poor quality of care and long wait times–and none of them had anything to do with staff sparkle! The surgeons didn’t just misdiagnose the problem–they failed to diagnose it at all. Which left the health of their patients in peril. Even the smartest people in the room get stuck on change when they don’t look inside their own organizations for answers. Which is why change often goes wrong at work. But wherever you stand in the hierarchy, there's a science of making it go right.


I’m Adam Grant, and this is WorkLife, my podcast with the TED Audio Collective. I’m an organizational psychologist. I study how to make work not suck. In this show I take you inside the minds of fascinating people to help us rethink how we work, lead, and live.

TODAY: How to champion change at work– from the bottom up and the top down.

Thanks to UKG for sponsoring this episode.

Organizations are always running change initiatives… and often failing at them. You’ve probably seen more than one change crash at work. A new automated expense tool—Bust. Your colleagues felt intimidated by a new technology. No meeting Wednesdays? Bomb. Your boss was too stuck in his ways to let your team try it. That new mentoring program?—Burn. Your new manager quit after a few months. So people develop change-fatigue. Then they get cynicism. And NOTHING ever gets better. The biggest obstacle to a successful change is human resistance.

[00:02:36] Dan Heath:
People have this sort of skepticism about change and everything you hear about change is pessimistic. Change is hard. People resist change. People dread change. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, but it occurred to us very early on that that has to be oversimplified. And it has frankly, to be wrong.

[00:02:53] Adam Grant:
Dan Heath is the coauthor of Switch—the best book I’ve ever read on change. Dan wrote it with his brother Chip, a social psychologist. They started from the premise that change shouldn’t be so difficult.

[00:03:05] Dan Heath:
Because if you look around in your own life, there's change all the time. You got married, you had kids, you took a new job. You moved cities, you made new friends, you developed a new hobby, you bought an iPhone You got on Facebook, you stopped using Facebook. I mean, everything in our lives has change. For some reason, we code the really difficult things as change and everything else is just like a choice. Our realization was, well, Hey, wait a second. It's all change. So why don't we study what the differences between the really painful changes and the really easy ones?

[00:03:36] Adam Grant:
What did you learn about the differences between changes that worked and the ones that were painful?

[00:03:43] Dan Heath:
The good changes, the happy changes in your life–one thing they all have in common is you wanted them. You wanted to get married. You wanted to have kids, you wanted the new iPhone. And so it looks like an open and shut case. But then you start getting into these more nuanced cases like smokers, they want to quit, but they don't, or they find it really challenging. Okay, it's all choices. Change, except addiction's a special case. That's not quite right either because there's a lot of people who want to lose 10 pounds and have a really hard time doing it. And so you start uncovering these kinds of middle cases like what's happening when part of us wants some change, very earnestly and yet we have a difficult time realizing it. And that's what kind of led us to think. This is a really interesting mystery here.


[00:04:31] Adam Grant:
Dan’s research with Chip pointed to three key steps for motivating people to change. Step 1: paint a vivid picture of why change is needed. Dan’s favorite way to illustrate that point is with a story about a finance guy named John Stegner. Stegner worked for a large manufacturing company that owned lots of factories. And each factory was wasting money buying their own supplies. So Stegner wanted to streamline their buying habits.

[00:04:59] Dan Heath:
We can have a lot more clout with vendors. We can strike better deals. He estimates that they can save on the order of a billion dollars over 10 years. And so being a good finance guy, he kind of triumphantly unveils his analysis to his colleagues and then nothing happens it's not even that he was opposed so much as they just kind of shrugged their shoulders. “Oh, John. Yeah. That's interesting.”

[00:05:20] Adam Grant:
Stegner realizes he needs a new strategy. Instead of presenting data, he needs to SHOW the executives how much individual purchasing is actually costing them. To do that, he hires an intern to visit all the factories and collect one item that every factory is buying.

[00:05:38] Dan Heath:
And that's gloves, work gloves. Turns out they're buying 424 different kinds of gloves.

[00:05:44] Adam Grant:
The intern then figures out how much each factory paid for the gloves and puts a price tag on every glove.

[00:05:51] Dan Heath:
Stegner brings all these gloves back to headquarters, dumps all these gloves on the boardroom table and then invites his colleagues to come behold this glove shrine that he's created for them.

[00:06:03] Adam Grant:
The executives quickly notice that although the gloves look identical…

[00:06:07] Dan Heath:
The one from the Oklahoma factory costs, 10 bucks a pair. And the one from the Ohio factory costs $19 a pair. And they say, “John, we're really paying radically different prices for the same pair of gloves.” Yep. They all walk out of the office, just shaking their head and saying, John, this is nuts. This is crazy. We got to fix this.” And within a matter of months, he has the green light to do centralized purchasing that he's wanted to do all along.

[00:06:35] Adam Grant:
The giant shrine to gloves allows the executives to visualize how expensive and ineffective it was to let individual factories purchase their own supplies. It motivates them to make a rapid change.

[00:06:47] Dan Heath:
That's like the quintessential organizational change story because it doesn't look like we expect it to look right. We think that once he has the spreadsheet, once he has the quote unquote business case, everything is just going to fall in line. Well, it doesn't usually work that way. The number one mistake of leading change is that we try to change things with information if we just shovel enough information, at people poof we're going to change, but the people had to have an emotional response that opened them up to change.

[00:07:23] Adam Grant:
When leaders paint a vivid, emotionally evocative picture of their visions, people are more likely to commit to them. They can see the future—and they’re all inspired by the same image. Which has been a theme for a long time in research on change.

[00:07:36] Dan Heath:
John Kotter, says most people think that the way change happens is, three steps: Analyze, think change. He says no, no, no. The way it works is see, feel, change. People see something that makes them feel something: motivated, surprised, appalled, and that sparks the change. People saw the gloves on the table that made them feel appalled. And that led to the change.

[00:08:02] Adam Grant:
I love that story. It's a timely indictment of the mistake I make over and over again in my own life, which is, let me just show you more data. Why are you not coming on board?

[00:08:13] Dan Heath:
Exactly. You can't just recycle the analysis you did to figure out the right way to go as the factor that motivates people to go with you. You're trying to deliver a dose of reality. You're trying to find the emotional reason to change,

[00:08:27] Adam Grant:
Once you’ve painted a vivid picture of the need for change, move to step 2: Don’t try to change people’s values. Appeal to the values they already hold.


Which brings us to Texas, and one of my all-time favorite change efforts.

[00:08:45] Dan Heath:
Back in the eighties, Texas was having a really bad problem with litter. The state was spending 25 million bucks a year, cleaning up roadside litter. It was getting worse every year.

[00:08:52] Adam Grant:
They start studying the problem. They realize the type of person who tends to litter is: between 18 and 35, drives a pickup truck, enjoys country music and sports, and might be a little anti-authority.

[00:09:07] Dan Heath:
So in other words, what they had found is that you want to reduce roadside litter, you've got to reach someone that fits this profile, which they, lovingly called Bubba You have to reach. Bubba. Well, how do you get Bubba to change?


[00:09:21] Adam Grant:
The researchers wrack their brains on how to make Bubba change. A bigger fine won’t help. Bubba’s anti-authority. Telling him to stop will just encourage him to litter MORE. You can’t tell me what to do! So what do you do? You create a campaign called… Don’t Mess with Texas.

[00:09:40] Dan Heath:
The gist was that if you're a good Texan, if you love your state, you will not defile your state with your litter. And in this campaign, they had these famous Texan men: Too Tall Jones, Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan. Evander Holyfield, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson. These classic Texan men, role models were making this case in commercials.

Adam Grant:
And the campaign WORKS. These litter bugs–or litter Bubbas–would be damned if they went against their role models.

Dan Heath:
In five years, roadside litter declines, 75%. 75%! Think of all the individual instances of, of rappers kept in pickup trucks and beer cans, thrown in the back instead of on the street for that to be possible.


[00:10:04] Adam Grant:
Instead of trying to change their values, the campaign highlighted that littering violated values that were already part of their identity as Texans.

[00:10:12] Dan Heath:
Don't mess with Texas is pure identity.

[00:10:25] Adam Grant:
Think about a change you’d love to see at work. How can you convince people that trying it will help them live their values or express their identities? Want your colleagues to get out of their silos? Appeal to their identities as subject matter experts with knowledge to share. Hoping your manager will give hybrid work a try? Remind him of his values of attracting and retaining top talent. But sometimes the problem just feels too big. And that’s where step 3 comes in: Shrink the change. Make it easy for people to find small wins.

[00:11:15] Dan Heath:
If you're trying to change things within an organization, and you're not in a position of formal authority. Your strategy is to try to figure out how to require less motivation a person one time said their strategy had always been to make it easy for the boss to say, yes reducing the amount of motivation you need and that's a concept in switch, we call shrinking the change. One that resonates with me because I'm kind of a messy person.

[00:11:40] Adam Grant:
You know the feeling. Your whole house is a mess–you’ll never be able to straighten it up. But what if you shrink the change?

[00:11:47] Dan Heath:
This woman called the fly lady, who has an online house cleaning website. She has this trick. She calls the five minute room rescue. So you take a kitchen timer, and then you rush into the dirtiest room in your house. Do whatever you can do in that five minutes, DING! you can quit with a clear conscience, but no, of course you don't quit because even in five minutes you can make a surprising amount of progress. And three hours later, you kind of snap back to consciousness, having just clean the entire place. That's shrinking the change.

[00:12:18] Adam Grant:
These three techniques—paint a vivid picture of why change needs to happen, appeal to values and identity, and shrink the change—can motivate people to try new things.


Just ask Emily Dia, who wanted to get her whole grade level at school on board with a radically new approach to teaching. Emily had been teaching in North Carolina for 18 years when Covid struck. Suddenly, her whole work life changed.

[00:12:45] Emily Dia:
There were so many systems that we hadn't even thought to create. What do we do if students can't get online, how do we get this content to them? Do we drive things to their homes?I was working more hours than I'd ever worked in my whole life. My poor son who was in third grade at the time, I was like, you're on your own kid. Good luck. ‘Cause I'm like trying to stay above water here was just hard.

[00:12:45] Adam Grant:
As a last resort, Emily decided to initiate a change of her own.

[00:13:13] Emily Dia:
I Googled like what to do and remote learning, and found the modern classrooms project.

[00:13:18] Adam Grant:
The Modern Classrooms Project is a different way of teaching. Instead of lecturing students all at once from in the front of the classroom, teachers create their own instructional videos for lessons. Students can then access the videos from anywhere, any time, to work through the lessons at their own pace. And since teachers aren’t busy lecturing, they’re free to support students one-on-one.

[00:13:40] Emily Dia:
This was the biggest revelation of my teaching career because it freed me up to be truly responsive to every individual human in my classroom.

[00:13:52] Adam Grant:
Emily wanted to bring the model to other classrooms. But it was a major change to the way things had always been done in schools. And there was plenty of resistance. Teachers were skeptical. Parents were skeptical. Even her own students were skeptical. To convince them, Emily applied the three steps. First she created an emotional image of why change had to happen: Teachers were exhausted.

[00:14:17] Emily Dia:
Teacher burnout and teacher attrition was huge for me and my messaging to them. Coming out of COVID teachers were tired. If we don't change something, we're all gonna quit. We won't be healthy humans. If something doesn't shift

[00:14:31] Adam Grant:
It wasn’t just the teachers who needed change—students needed it desperately too. They were zoning out in some classes and missing others altogether.

[00:14:41] Emily Dia:
I probably had about half of the students actually show up llive quote unquote. You know, the learning gaps that occurred in the last two and a half years are really significant. What we need is a model that will help us, fill in those gaps and really prevent them from getting larger. So that was kind of how I framed it.

[00:14:59] Adam Grant:
Second, Emily got students and parents on board by appealing to their existing values. Their sense of pride in educational excellence—and their desire for more personalized instruction.

[00:15:10] Emily Dia:
Yes. I thought through very carefully what our students and our parents would want, I think this is a tool that our students need that our parents need because, you know, they don't want their students to get behind in a traditional class after I delivered content I would confer with like three or four students on a good day you just kind of hope that they're getting it. And you might not know until the end.

[00:15:34] Adam Grant:
But with the Modern Classrooms Project you check in with kids daily to see their progress.

[00:15:39] Emily Dia:
When I actually used a designated portion of my class time to give feedback in real time to students, as they were submitting work I could confer with 15 or 16 kids in a class period. My ability to really personalize my instruction for them it takes that unknown out of it and makes you so much more confident in their growth as humans and their course.

[00:16:01] Adam Grant:
The new approach was also eye opening and empowering for students.

[00:16:06] Emily Dia:
I had this student, he said, Ms. Dia. I always thought I was terrible at English, but I just realized like no one had ever told me explicitly what it was I was supposed to be doing. And now I see what I could get better at.

[00:16:18] Adam Grant:
Now that Emily had seen the impact in her own classroom, she was ready to make the case for change to the principal. That’s when she made her third move: to shrink the change.

[00:16:28] Emily Dia:
I know that I, as an administrator really enjoyed tangible, concrete, small asks at a time that was really busy. My initial ask was, “Can you make five and a half minutes to watch this video and tell me what you think?”

[00:16:40] Adam Grant:
She used what psychologists call the foot-in-the-door technique. You start with a small initial ask that’s likely to get a “yes.” Then follow up with a bigger ask that raises the stakes. Having made a commitment to supporting you, people are more likely to agree to the bigger request.

[00:16:57] Emily Dia:
The second ask was, would you let me present what I've tried in my classroom? the third ask was, will you pay for a bunch of us to take this training this summer so that we can learn how to do this?

[00:17:07] Adam Grant:
The principal bought in. And after getting so many teachers on board, Emily decided to spread it to other schools. She now works for the Modern Classrooms Project to help other teachers adopt the program at their schools—and get buy-in from administrators.

[00:17:21] Emily Dia:
As a coach, I want to make the lifts light for teachers. They don't have to design the system. Let me offer you the system. And then you can bring your brilliance, into the model. The model is super adaptable to any content area, any grade level. I'm here to support you to figure out what that looks like in practicality.

[00:17:40] Adam Grant:
What advice would you give to people who want to make a change, but they don't have power.

[00:17:45] Emily Dia:
Figure out a way to make a small change within your locus of control. I knew I had pretty good control over what I was delivering to my students during COVID.


Well, I can change instructional videos. I don't really have to ask permission to that. I'm still delivering the content I'm expected to deliver. It's not hurting anybody.

[00:18:06] Adam Grant:
Shrinking the change can break a meaningful goal into manageable pieces. But what if the change you’re trying to champion is impossibly big? More on that, after the break.


Okay, this is going to be a different kind of ad. I play a personal role in selecting the sponsors for this podcast, because they all have interesting cultures of their own.



[00:18:34] Adam Grant:
When you’re the head honcho, it should be easier to implement change. What you say goes! But I constantly hear from leaders that change is the hardest thing they do. Not only do you have to figure out what’s broken, you have to find the right fix. And then–the most difficult job of all–you have to convince the people below you–all your 15 or 15,000 employees to run with the change. Now imagine being Hubert Joly. You’re supposed to revive one of America’s most recognizable companies. And you’re French.

[00:19:12] Hubert Joly:
Everybody thought we were going to die. There was zero recommendations on the stock.

[00:19:21] Adam Grant:
Hubert specializes in leading turnarounds. About a decade ago, he got a call from a headhunter to see if he was interested in a CEO job.

[00:19:29] Hubert Joly:
Best Buy had been an amazing company. But clearly in 2012, the company had become complacent after killing circuit city. You had strategic challenges with Amazon. Operational challenges with the quality of service, having gone down, leadership challenges with my predecessor, having been fired for misconduct and shareholder challenges with the share price.

[00:19:51] Hubert Joly:
So this was the all you can eat menu of challenges

[00:19:55] Adam Grant:
The change required was too overwhelming. So Hubert told the recruiter thanks, but no thanks.

[00:20:02] Hubert Joly:
I said, Jim, you're crazy. Right. You're crazy! He said, do me a favor, at least study. So I did a bunch of research, mystery, shopping, I read everything I could and I concluded two things. One, the world needed Best Buy for some of our purchases, not all of them, but for some of them. Think about a TV, right? Picture quality. The only place in the world where you can see it is in a store. And also importantly, the vendors needed Best Buy to showcase the fruit of their R and D investment. And the good news was that all of the problems that Best Buy had were self-inflicted. Prices were too high. The online shopping experience was terrible. The speed of shipping was slow. The cost structure was bloated. What's the good news about self-inflicted problem. We can fix them. I didn't need to call Jeff Bezos and say, “stop bothering me!” There was enough there to effectuate a turnaround. And so I threw my hat in the ring and said, I want this job.

[00:21:04] Adam Grant:
Hubert got to work planning a transformation. Step one of any turnaround. Is a good diagnosis.

[00:21:12] Adam Grant:
To get that diagnosis, Hubert knew he wouldn't find the answers at Best Buy's corporate headquarters. No, he had to travel to St. Cloud, Minnesota to work at a Best Buy store as a sales associate.

[00:21:25] Hubert Joly:
I had my khakis, my blue shirt.

[00:21:26] Adam Grant:
So this was almost like, undercover boss, except you weren't under.

[00:21:31] Hubert Joly:
I was not undercover. I had a badge CEO in training

[00:21:34] Adam Grant:
Were you nervous at all of admitting I'm a CEO in training?

[00:21:38] Hubert Joly:
No, that was super easy because I had admired the company for many years and I love electronics I thought this was so cool. And how difficult could it be for me to say, I don't know what was broken and so I really needed people's helps And I think that contributed to creating the energy, from the beginning that we were going to attack the real problems together. And I had three questions that I would ask all of the associates and general management of the store: what's working? What's not working? What do you need? They had all of the answers

[00:22:13] Adam Grant:
They were quick to tell him what was broken.

[00:22:14] Hubert Joly:
Hubert, it's all well-intentioned, but your team in headquarters giving us 42 key performance indicators to focus on. I really want to work well for the company. I want a company to win. I cannot manage 42 KPIs.

Adam Grant:

[00:22:23] Hubert Joly:
Right? Because every department has their own thing, if you could do me a big favor, boil it down to a max of five. And eventually We said we only have two problems at Best Buy.


Hubert Joly:
Revenue is going down. And the profit margin is going down. Adam, how hard can it be to solve two problems?

[00:22:54] Adam Grant:
Best Buy was in dire straits. Most leaders would focus on everything that was going wrong. But Hubert also asked what was going right. He was familiar with what management researchers have called appreciative inquiry: designing a change effort by building on what’s already working. That gives people a sense of stability and possibility. In any organization, there are bright spots—pockets of excellence where people are already living a version of the change you want to see. The larger the organization, the more bright spots there are. But as our change expert Dan Heath points out, it takes a concerted effort to look for them.

[00:23:34] Dan Heath:
We are wired to obsess about problems and bad things. When people start thinking about change, their focus immediately goes to the problem. Let's turn the same analytical engines that we routinely focus on problems. Let's focus them on solutions.

[00:23:52] Adam Grant:
Say a company is struggling with low sales. Your first instinct might be to try to understand WHY sales are low.

[00:23:59] Dan Heath:
But what virtually no one does is say if we can understand why some sales reps perform better than others, maybe there are practices we can spread to the whole team. All they had to do to succeed or to improve was to study themselves at their own best moments. And the secrets were right there.

[00:24:17] Adam Grant:
So Hubert went to find the bright spots at Best Buy.

[00:24:21] Hubert Joly:
We were a $50 billion company. That means there was a few customers that we are still buying from us. We had 1000 stores in the U S and 70% of the U S population was within 10 or 15 minutes of a best buy store. That's a huge advantage. We had these amazing relationships with all of the world's foremost tech companies. It was important for us to remember that because we were going to leverage that. We had amazing momentum in our mobile phone business, we also had great capabilities around the geek squad. I did not invent the geek squad, but oh my God, what a gift. Right? And then of course the people, it was 125,000 people who were passionate about helping customers. Again, the culture had deteriorated, but the hearts of the company, the soul of the company was still there

[00:25:09] Adam Grant:
One particular bright spot was in Denver. A manager, Chris Schmidt, was fed up with standardized training.

[00:25:16] Hubert Joly:
He said, “Hubert imagine that you and Roger Federer have the same coach. It's not true, Adam. I wish it was, but it's not true. I can guarantee that uh your coach would say different things to Roger and to you because you have different needs. So he had created a program. Of individualized coaching for all of the associates in the stores, in the Denver markets to help the associates get better based on where they were. And it changed not only the results, but also the culture, because it became a very human individualized culture. When we saw that I was blown away and we rolled this out and it helped us along the way.

[00:25:59] Adam Grant:
One of the virtues of being in a huge company is there is probably a subculture that's figured it out already, and you just need to study it and scale it.

[00:26:07] Hubert Joly:
It was important to start with the strengths because when everybody thought we were going to die, we had to remind ourselves and people that we had some unique strengths. And there was a few areas where we had, this positive momentum.


Hubert Joly:
I have the bicycle theory. if you're trying to direct a bicycle at standstill. You can't, it falls. Right. But if you get on the bicycle and you start moving, it doesn't matter if it's not moving exactly in the right direction because you can course correct. The plan didn't need to be perfect. It just needed to be good enough so that we could get going.

[00:26:42] Adam Grant:
Things started rolling at Best Buy, but it wasn't a smooth ride.

[00:26:46] Hubert Joly:
I made a mistake. I've made many mistakes in the journey. One of the mistakes I made at that time is that I was expecting the same people running the organization to reinvent the organization. And that couldn't be done. That was too big of a change.

[00:27:01] Adam Grant:
I love this point that the people who are effectively running the organization, aren't always the ones with the skills or the motivation to change it.

[00:27:07] Hubert Joly:
And it's also the people who are running the organization they don't have the capacity to reinvent it. Maybe Adam, the most important decision we make as leaders is who do we put in positions of power? A mistake I made for too many years was putting too much emphasis on expertise and experience when recruiting somebody. Over time, I spend more and more emphasis on who is this person? and being clear about our leadership expectations, and they had to be non-negotiable. I told the officers at Best Buy If you don't agree with these principles, that's okay. except, oh, you cannot work here.

[00:27:47] Adam Grant:
And instead of trying to change everyone’s values, Hubert worked to close the gap between their existing values and their daily behaviors.

[00:27:55] Hubert Joly:
When the ship is sinking, You need to plug the holes get the ship back in shape and get going. The interim team had wanted to rewrite the values I said, no, we're going to stop that because I read the values. They are fine. What we need to do is change our behaviors as opposed to rewriting the values.

[00:28:16] Adam Grant:
Oftentimes people are threatened by a leader coming in and telling them, wait what we always thought was important, our heart and soul, our DNA, that's not you anymore. So say goodbye to that. And I think part of what you're saying you did is you allowed people to stay attached to who they were and what was important to them.

[00:28:34] Hubert Joly:
That's such an important point, right? I took the time to understand the DNA of the company, respect it and love it, honor it and make it more current. And so that way we didn't need to be divided between the old guard and the new guard. We just needed to get back into the game and refresh, you know, for the new age.

[00:28:57] Adam Grant:
Sure enough, research reveals that people are more willing to embrace change when you give them a sense of continuity. They’re happy to try something new as long as they’re clear they won’t have to give up everything old that they love. Consider a change that you want to see happen in your workplace. What won’t change? How can you reassure people that they’ll still be able to hold onto some core values and identities? With that approach, things started to change at Best Buy. They scored some early wins.

[00:29:28] Hubert Joly:
The first one was in January of 2013. Four or five months after I started. People expected us to be way down but we reported flat comparable sales during holiday. Now you could say that flat is not great. But we had proven that we were not destined to extinction.

[00:29:46] Adam Grant:
But for evidence of real change, Hubert had to look to the stores for more bright spots. Hubert says many of the company’s 125,000 employees were already great at customer service. They didn’t need to smile more! And now he saw them take that to a whole new level. They retrained salespeople to be electronics experts to better advise customers deciding between products. Best Buy also rolled out house calls, where technicians would travel to customers’ homes to help them in-person with their tech problems.


But perhaps the most significant change was giving employees the autonomy to act on behalf of the company as they saw fit.

[00:30:28] Hubert Joly:
There was a store in Florida where a young boy had had a dinosaur toy as a gift from Santa Claus. Unfortunately, the dinosaur was quite sick, the head was dismantled from the rest of the body.

[00:30:43] Adam Grant:
A typical sales associate would’ve exchanged the toy for a new one.

[00:30:47] Hubert Joly:
That's not what the little boy wanted. He wanted a cure for the dinosaur. And on that day, in that best buy store is two associates who understood what was going on. They took the dinosaur, and like a good doctor, they studied to perform a surgical procedure on the dinosaur. Of course replaced, but gave back to the little boy a cure dinosaur. And you can imagine the joy of the little boy and his mother. And so the question is, do you think there was a standard operating procedure at best buy.

[00:31:20] Adam Grant:
Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Are you saying there wasn't a T-Rex squad.

[00:31:23] Hubert Joly:
There was not a T-Rex squad. They found it in their heart to create that joy. We are creating an environment where people could be themselves and could do what they felt was the right. Uh, thing to do. And so I thought this was magical. This was human magic. And the transformation was done not by changing out everyone at the company, but by allowing everyone to become the best, biggest, most beautiful version of themselves.

[00:31:53] Adam Grant:
Too many people try to force change, when they should be looking for ways to unleash it. Your workplace is full of people with ideas for improvement, and all they’re missing is the authority to try them. Change doesn’t have to be about walking away from something good. It can be about growing and expanding into something better.


WorkLife is hosted by me, Adam Grant. The show is produced by TED with Transmitter Media. Our team includes Colin Helms, Gretta Cohn, Dan O’Donnell, Constanza Gallardo, Grace Rubenstein, Michelle Quint, Banban Cheng, and Anna Phelan. This episode was produced by JoAnn DeLuna. Our show is mixed by Ben Chesneau. Our fact checker is Paul Durbin. Original music by Hansdale Hsu and Allison Leyton-Brown. Ad stories produced by Pineapple Street Studios.

Deep gratitude this season to Daniella Balarezo, Nicole Bode, Valentina Bojanini, Sammy Case, Nicole Edine, Jimmy Gutierrez, Will Hennessy, Marie Kim, Sarah Lee, Jen Michalski, Annie O'Dell, Julia Ross, Alex Segell, and Sarah Jane Souther.

Special thanks to our sponsors: LinkedIn, Morgan Stanley, ServiceNow, and UKG.

Appreciation to the following researchers and their colleagues: Drew Carton on blurry visions, Karl Weick and Teresa Amabile on small wins, Bob Cialdini and Jerry Burger on the foot-in-the-door, David Cooperrider on appreciative inquiry, Daan van Knippenberg on visions of continuity, and Steve Kelman on unleashing change.

We’ll be back in the fall with new weekly conversations. Have a great summer!


Hubert Joly:
We can show up upbeat and positive, you know, ready to make a positive difference in the world.

Adam Grant:
It's not very French of you though.

Hubert Joly:
I will take the fifth on this one.