The change process has been analyzed from every angle. The word itself – change – has been thrown around so much it’s become stretched to the point of meaninglessness. My approach is simple. If change isn’t driven by customer needs, it’s not worth talking about.
All too often companies launch into change processes that have nothing to do with getting better at serving customers. This is particularly endemic to organizational changes. Virtually without exception, management pushing everyone into artificial change initiatives leads to wasted resources and a damaged brand.
Sustainable change for the better only happens when it flows organically from customer needs. If you’re relying on authoritarian decrees from the board of directors and hand-waving consultants in expensive suits, things have probably gone off the rails.
When I reflect on my own life, moments of meaningful change have been more on the tranquil side. Genuine turning points tend to sneak up on you and are only fully understood in hindsight. They happen when they need to. The organic way change weaves itself into our lives should serve as the foundation of a new approach in our businesses.
Change is a dish best served in small portions, preferably straight out of your customers’ hands. It should be driven by an invisible pedagogy blissfully free of Big Important Meetings, trips to the training center or team building games. When change happens organically, your message won’t keep hitting roadblocks.
To boil it all down, I’d say there are just a few simple things to keep in mind when communicating change. Your audience should be able to easily:
- Understand the goal
- Care about the goal
- See it as a natural progression
- Take action that means something to them
Maybe you’ve heard all this before. It’s hard for me to say since I’m allergic to leadership literature. In my opinion, if you want to know how human beings work, consult the masters of human behavior: the likes of Shakespeare, Tolstoy and perhaps most important of all, Astrid Lindgren. If you want long-lasting practical benefits, forget the flow charts and get inside the impractical minds of the human beings you’re trying to change.
Former Swedish Armed Forces Intelligence and Security Centre
Author of textbooks on intelligence services
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- For change to come naturally, think like a human (not a consultant) - August 19, 2015