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  • Writer's pictureRiikka Tanner

Driving Change Throughout the Organization

Every transformation begins by a vision. We picture a future, in some ways different from the current status quo. Vision gives us purpose and sets direction for our change pursuits. There is only one little problem. The problem.

Unsplash / Levi Xu

You may have great vision for your business and a firm belief for the new course of action but if you can’t move the masses and get support for your image of the future, you’re toast. No wonder that a third (33 %) of business and IT –leaders say that a fear of change or their organization’s internal culture is problematic when it comes to transformation. [1]

Sell the Change

Making change happen is essentially about influence, how to persuade people to do things differently, and how to move them so they take action? Yes, if you didn’t read it between the lines, it is actually selling.

Having people adopting your idea is all about how to sell it to them. This is where the concept of sales pitch comes handy. If you can’t explain your vision in 5 minutes or less and get a clear sign of understanding, you need to work some more on your pitching skills.

After you master it in five minutes, you can move on to the next level, the elevator pitch. And by the time you succeed in making your vision come to life with a simple line or just by one word, congratulations, you nailed it!

You can have dozens of action plans, directives and guidelines to steer change but if you are lacking clear, compelling vision the chances are your transformation efforts will go nowhere. Why? Because it will either just confuse people or alienate them. [2]

Now, let’s consider the other side of the coin. You may actually have a really good vision that is clearly articulated and formulated for all encounters between 20 seconds to 5 minutes. But even the best of visions don’t sell themselves (or they might, for a small number of people) so what you need is a communication plan.

It’s the oldest lesson in the change management playbook – failing to communicate the reasons and purpose for change leads to inevitable stalling or downright failure of your transformation. This is the number one obstacle for achieving your change goals and yet it is still today underplayed by a factor of ten.

Use every possible channel

Monthly info sessions, company newsletters, quarterly management meetings for communicating change? Old school. If you really want to drive success in your transformation, start looking for all possible avenues, mediums and channels to broadcast your information.

Accenture CIO Andrew Wilson started hosting his own intercompany TV show, CIO Live with an actual studio audience to convey his message to increasing number of postmillenials in the company. I am not saying that every CXO needs her own TV show but it does give you something to think about.

Do you know what is the fastest growing medium in 2017? Video.

85 % of marketers have seen positive ROI from their video efforts, so how should this be any different regarding your internal audience, the people you are trying to sell your change to? Think.

Start an intercompany blog where executives will talk about the change and actions taken in a relaxed manner. This means that any speedbumps or failures should be openly communicated too. Who believes that a transformation journey is all peaches and cherry blossoms all the way? Point is, your communication needs to be credible.

The most important thing about communicating the change is incorporating it into your daily activities. For example, whenever you help someone with a business problem, you should make the connection to your transformation efforts. Show others how the proposed solution fits (or doesn’t fit) to the bigger picture. [2]

Take advantage of individual performance evaluations and one to one –conversations to show how people are contributing to the change by their actions or development goals. As cliché as it is, if you wish to see change around you, you must change yourself first.

Learn to walk the talk.

[1] Fit for Digital Report, Fujitsu Nov 2016

[2] Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail, HBR Jan 2007

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