I’m making a bit of a habit of working in transformational roles at present. Working with traditional media businesses in my case, and helping to steer them towards a digital mindset.
It’s almost always about culture and neglecting that aspect of whatever change programme you are going to implement is going to lead to tears! People aren’t inclined to change and the worst thing that can happen to you after designing a load of new processes is for everyone to simply go back to the way they’ve always done it.
You and your business need to make clear why the change is needed
Why the change is needed, what change is required, and even more importantly, you need to create an environment in which that change is encouraged to take place.
Or even, an environment in which the change can’t do anything except take place…
There are physical elements, like systems and resource, even the way teams are seated together where maybe previously they’ve been apart. And there are the non physical things like KPI’s and targets. All these things are required.
But you also need a constant ‘selling’ of the message. A clarity of purpose and shared motivation to change. People in the organisation need to want to change, or it won’t happen. But they also need to know what change is required, and be allowed to fail on the way to making that change.
In many ‘traditional’ businesses some people may have worked a certain way for decades. They are likely to have performed at the absolute top of their game and be regarded extremely highly within the organisation.
You don’t want to that!
And along you come with a cheerful ‘You don’t want to do it like that!’ sort of message. Is there any wonder why there is little traction for the new processes you’re trying to put in place?
As Simon Sinek says in the great video at the top of the page – People buy WHY you do something far more than they buy WHAT you do.
This is why when a brand ‘speaks’ to you because of its commitment to a design ethic, or an almost religious pursuit of customer value, you find yourself drawn in and share the motivation to do what it is you think they are trying to do. Buying products or services from them is the least of your concerns! You LOVE this company…
On the other side of the scale, there is the company you buy from simply because you need the stuff they sell. Your feelings about this company range from the mildly curious to the outright disinterested.
And it’s the same with change.
Your change programme will have far more power if the people in the business you are trying to change buy into the ‘why’ of what you are doing. Think about it, even the questions you hear around implementation of new processes give clues to this.
“Why should I do it this way?”
No matter what the actual objection, or resistance to change might look like, the question being posed is generally, why?
So all change programmes need to start with this. The reason you are telling people they need to do whatever it is you are telling them they need to do!
The positive impact on them, their team, their product or service, and ultimately, the company itself. It’s likely that at first any ‘new ways’ of doing things are going to feel very clunky and unnatural. So constant support of the ‘new ways’ has to be provided.
Constant reassurance that this is the thing to do, constant demands for the best effort, constant training in the new ways of working. Constant reiteration of the mission.
The ‘WHY’ you are doing what you are doing.
The fear of failure.
And lastly, you have to make sure people are on task, and on message and on with the programme yes, but you must also make sure people are able to fail. There’s nothing more likely to prevent someone jumping into a new way or working like the fear they are going to look foolish, or make a mistake.
You might even want to go so far as to encourage mistakes as of and in themselves. Because that way you know you are making progress! They are doing something new, something they haven’t done before, and they are making a pig’s ear of it!
Exactly the way humans go about learning new stuff.