I was reading up on change management, and someone recommended I take a look at a fairly obscure article from 2011. The article, '5 Practical Steps for Communicating Corporate Change,' comes from a management consulting blog Beyond the Arc and in it they propose that effective communication is the cornerstone to change processes. I switched the lens a bit and considered their 5 recommendations in the framework of pushing forward innovation and product development within a corporate or startup environment.
No matter the size of the change effort you're hoping to deliver, poor communication can stop the change from being successful. It may be tempting to think that resistance will below and you'll be met by a team urgently awaiting the change, but that's not likely. The facts are, that change is hard and it's hard to predict how people will respond. Consider your change effort as any marketing effort. You need to know your customer, build support, identify your champions, and clearly explain the impact. Look at the change from the perspective of those who would be impacted, and you'll be headed in the right direction.
Consider your change effort as any marketing effort. You need to know your customer, build support, identify your champions, and clearly explain the impact. Look at the change from the perspective of those who would be impacted, and you'll be headed in the right direction.
Follow these 5 rules from the article:
1. Create an “elevator pitch” for the change
Keep it short and simple (e.g. easy to remember) - in less than a minute it should explain the concept's virtues and should work for a wide array of audiences.
2. Identify an executive champion
Identify who you're critical allies are within your market space. If you're trying to get an idea pushed through at a large corporation, find the exec who will buy-in and stand up for you. Having a verbal or written testimonials is great, but videos are more compelling. Even a rough-cut video from an iPhone will do. Try storing it on your company intranet or on Vimeo/Youtube - it'll be easy to access and make selling it that much easier.
3. Recruit influencers
Once you have your key change champion, you need to start building grass-roots support from the impacted business areas. Once you've identified your key influencers, map out their social and political map and meet with their 5 key influencers. This approach may require a fair amount, but it will allow you to bridge gaps and solidify your network of change.
4. Make it easy for everyone to learn about the change
Once you've started rallying the troops, make it easy for your concept to go viral. Use more than one channel for communications - websites, flyers, staff meetings, and email campaigns are all easy and [mostly] free ways to disseminate information. Keep your branding and style consistent so people can recognize your concept, regardless of the channel.
5. Emphasize the big picture impact
It's easy for people to only consider how your concept will impact them on a day-to-day basis. Allow people to see the big picture and future vision of your ideas in your communications; this will help ensure they don't ignore system-wide benefits that will ensue.
When you're excited about a new product or business idea, it's often easy to assume everyone else 'gets it' just like you. Keep in mind that you may have hours, days, or weeks of background information that others haven't thought of yet; as Seth Godin once said “The less people know, the more they yell.” – how true it is.