Managing Change by Influence vs Authority

This article discusses, how to implement change solely by Influence when you Lack Authority to make change. If you are interested in an opinion piece on which is better for implementing change influence vs authority – check out this post.

If you are interested in learning more about Managing Change by Influence vs Authority this article is for you. Often times in the technology projects we coach, we come across change leaders who are charged with the “management of change” but they don’t really have the “authority” over making that change.  For example in mining operations there is a “Digital / Technology Group” often located far away from the actual mine sites, who are tasked with planning for and implementing technology change but when the rubber hits the road they are now stuck with the not so awesome job of influencing operations to make the case about why the technology change is necessary and how it would add value etc. etc.

In this Forbes Article Cameron Bishop tackles the topic of “Influence, Not Authority, Shows Solid Leadership” and he also goes on to articulate six different ways you can increase your personal influence. We at generally agree with this article but when it comes to a complex work environment of competing priorities where the technology teams don’t have an opportunity to develop the personal rapport with the site-based teams and those teams didn’t really ask for that particular change, what can you do? What are some proven effective techniques of making change possible in today’s world of remote / hybrid work, where trust is at a premium and influence is about being the obviously useful signal through the noise.

The most essential lesson I have learned about Managing Change by Influence in my 20 year career is, the only sure way to actualize change is to increase a person’s intrinsic desire to change. This is why candor is a top value within our organization at, we pride ourselves in having open and authentic relationships with clients where we can pivot if a client is not seeing value in what is being offered, in these cases we we hit the pause button as at this point we realize that we have not done our job of establishing and increasing the intrinsic desire for change in the client prior to proceeding with the intervention of helping the clients implement change.

So the question is how do you increase a person’s intrinsic desire to adopt change? The simple answer is to diagnose their motivations and align your change to those motivations. At we have a three step process during the connect phase that is intended to diagnose the motivations of the people undergoing change, do we get this 100% all the time, definitely not! When the change management efforts are not sticking, we are easily able to diagnose using our process and re-working our strategy. At this point in the conversation the question I often get is, “well the thing we are implementing is really not something the people undergoing the change want”, but it needs to be done anyways.

If you are relying heavily on Managing Change by Influence, here is some of my advice and options for you, when the change adopters do not readily welcome the change:

  1. Identify the Measurable Impact of the change not taking place in the anticipated timeframe and record it in the project risk register and share it at the next project update meeting.
  2. Use the Desire Diagnosis tools within our Connect process and demystify the connections of the change-adopters lack of desire to what are the things they do want to see change. This is by far the most powerful step you can take to better understand your situation and what can be done about it.
  3. Find the key influencer who most wants the change and if this person does not have the desire, ability or influence to provide the project with the needed resources to implement the change at the desired rate of adoption.
  4. Reset your expectations of the desired rate of adoption and create a mitigation strategy, at we show you how to create a minimum viable adoption plan© to plan your implementation one little step at a time.
  5. Get the Plan Socialized and approved by your project and operational leadership team so everyone is now expecting.

If you are interested in getting a custom diagnosis of your specific project – feel free to book a call with us and we will send you a customized project assessment report – that we will debrief with you on a call with one of our Digital Adoption Specialists.