In The Signal and the Noise Nate Silver correlates exponential growth in information with periods of violence and unrest. In his words, “The amount of information was increasing much more rapidly than our understanding of what to do with it, or our ability to differentiate the useful information from the mistruths.”
Silver adds, “The instinctual shortcut that we take when we have too much information is to engage with it selectively, picking out the parts we like and ignoring the remainder, making allies with those who have made the same choices and enemies of the rest.”
What goes for civilizations on historical scales applies also to companies and their people. There has never been more consensus about the accelerated need for widespread change. Yet the response to this need is to add more work and information to employees who say they are already overworked and overwhelmed.
If you want to get the worst out of people, make them afraid. If you want to drive people away from a spirit of change and towards the status quo, overload them with information. Too many change implementations trigger fear and overload in the very people we need to be most engaged and energized.
When we approach change like that, the only surprise is that a quarter of change efforts still manage to be successful.
When it comes to successfully introducing change, the real task of change leadership is twofold:
- to simplify and create priorities and focus so that everyone understands short-term goals that build effectively and with momentum to long-term ends
- to establish great clarity towards inspiring others and establishing and sustaining trust
The key to both is not “just communications,” it is predominantly communications. Executives often ask me, “If we have really figured out how to drive behavior change in organizations, why do we still so often fall short?”
- Companies rarely create the level of simplicity required to drive behavioral change to large populations of people. Many organizational factors are at war with a commitment to true simplicity and real prioritization. In other words, it takes a lot of work to make things simple.
- Leaders rarely attend to sustaining emotions over the long haul. Many of a leader’s reasons for making a change are analytical, improving revenues, lowering costs. These motivations do not tend to translate to 10,000 front-line employees. One corporate kickoff does not establish emotions that will ultimately determine success or failure when you try to change behaviors and then anchor them into habits.
Strong communicators are masters of simplicity because that is at the heart of strong messaging tied to defined action. Through storytelling and other approaches, we are also your single best resource for addressing the emotional needs that are essential to sustaining change.
These capabilities set us apart from the large sections of your business dedicated to analytics — the industry reporting, market forecasting, and business rationales that initially instigated change. Use us early, and you will be more likely to capture better value from your change initiatives.
Want to know more? Visit Soteres Consulting to learn more about change communications or comment below.