May 30, 2017 Sara Ahlberg


Being able to articulate how you create value empowers change for the better!

Now you’ve gotten to the bottom of WHY you want to change your business, the next step is to understand HOW you’re going to change your business. How does the change initiative and the planned future vision deliver the value that proves you believe in your WHY?

How we plan the move from our current state to our future state, is critical when it comes to change. The way we prepare, plan, lead, manage and sustain change, tests our credibility as leaders and our success as a company.

After WHY, the key question for anyone going through change is “What’s in it for me?” The essence of this question is often linked to HOW. Creating a vision of the future and being clear about HOW to get there, takes away some of the negative emotion sitting in change.

A simple example can be a goal I set for myself recently “I will run the London marathon”. The reason for this is twofold, I want to feel the success of running a marathon before I get too old and I want to be healthier – the WHY is defined.

But how will I get across the finishing line in London? How many kilometres do I have to run to get in shape? What kind of shoes should I wear? Do I need a running coach? Which books should I read? Shall I tell my friends?

The energy is all going into figuring out the HOW and this in turn creates frustration, worry, fear. Multiply that a thousand-fold when addressing all the individuals working within a big company – and that’s an awful lot of negative emotion. The HOW is key for all change. It’s about mental and emotional preparation, expectation management – if you are clear in a HOW blueprint at the start of your journey together with your WHY, people have no problem pulling together and tackling the WHAT.

Coming back to the world of business, many big change programs start from a position of competition. There is always someone who can produce a product at a lower cost, produce a higher level of profit and therefore innovate in a new way or design a unique service offer.

If you don’t fully understand how your business delivers its unique value for your customer today it is very difficult to understand the extent of the change required to move your business ahead of the competition tomorrow. Even more importantly, designing your business strategically and staying ahead of the game by constantly looking for new ways to add value for the end consumer whilst, of course, continuing to deliver profit, is the only way to ensure you stay in the lead.

Large companies are often divided up into functions and/or organisations, these functions or organisations control resources in terms of money and people, they can also, and often do, stand in the way of change. Going into change from a ‘what to do’ perspective and addressing your functional managers or different organisations will only lead to confusion as each person tries to ensure the change benefits them in the best way possible. Its only when the HOW is approached from a process perspective we can truly design the best approach for our customers.

Mapping your processes and creating a clear overview of your value chain is crucial to ‘frame the change’. Clearly defining where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow, helps people to understand the move you are after and the effect you are aiming to create. If you design and communicate your process landscape in such a way that you could then show your customers and they would understand how you do business on THEIR behalf, you are on the way.

From this picture of the future, your co-workers can start to understand what they need to do individually to deliver the WHAT. By providing a clear blueprint of the future, emotions are calmed and people start to join the journey of change.

So, how does this all lead back to change for the better?

  • The better you can frame the WHY and meet the hearts of those who will go through the change, the better position you are in to be met with an open mind and curiosity. People are ready to support and eager to see how they can contribute when working for a company that talks to their hearts.
  • The clearer you are yourself, as a leader, regarding the change and its effect on HOW you do business means you can design a blueprint of your value chain, with the customer in focus and with an eye on the empowerment of your co-workers, not different organisations. By creating such a vision, you will align individuals around a picture of the future. In turn this calms emotion – a vision gives people something to hold on to – ‘oh, I see what she’s talking about, this could be really interesting!’
  • The better you can ‘frame the change’ and explain all of this to your co-workers and then let them concentrate on WHAT they should do to deliver to the WHY and the HOW blueprint – you will in turn, empower them further to enable the change needed.

  • Mix all of this with a high level of emotional intelligence from the leaders introducing the change, as Peter describes in his blog from March, together with a great communication strategy and learning tools from Symbal and you really will be on your way.

Sara Ahlberg

Name: Sara Ahlberg
Title: Senior Change Communication Expert
Experience: 29 years working with change management
Personal Mission: Connect the heart before the brain to enable change
Change Anthem: Change the World, Colby and Awu
Sara Ahlberg

About the Author

Sara Ahlberg Name: Sara Ahlberg Title: Senior Change Communication Expert Experience: 29 years working with change management Personal Mission: Connect the heart before the brain to enable change Change Anthem: Change the World, Colby and Awu

Comments (2)

  1. Mi Sook Park

    Clarity of what to focus in change processes. Well formulated and somewhat remind me of Simon Sinek’s leadership and still adapted to individual and organizational development. Good luck with London marathon. I’ve done mine in New York and it was an amazing experience! Cheers, Mi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *