In the second of my five part series on the pre-requisites for embedding change we examine the importance of building a change story as part of the embedding change framework.
Building a purpose for people to believe in
The second prerequisite for embedding change is to create a purpose for people to believe in. Some organisations have a clear purpose or story, in which case it is relatively straight-forward to link your change to this story and for everyone to be clear on how the change helps to deliver the organisation’s purpose.
For many organisations this clear purpose doesn’t exist and the reason for the change is described in a combination of either ‘problem-based’ or ‘aspirational-based’ stories. Both approaches have consequences and research has shown that using a mix of approaches is more successful in embedding change.
Problem-based stories are ones where a problem is identified, along with analysis of what’s wrong, and the action taken to fix it.
Aspirational-based stories identify with being the best e.g. being market leading or the number one and then imagines what it could be like for the organisation.
Both stories can focus too much on either the positive or the negative at the expense of the other, creating what employees could perceive as an unrealistic view of the organisation. A balance of story types should be used to highlight both sides of the organisation.
However you create your purpose, or context for the change it is vital that you involve people in designing the change. Taking people from all levels of the organisation impacted by the change and getting them to work through the solution (with all the constraints and context) means that they will own and advocate the change. This helps stop ‘resistance to change’ as people involved in the design of the change are less likely to resist the change.
This approach is often resisted by organisations and change programmes as they believe it will take too long to design this way. The reality is that whilst the design process may take longer what you will get is an embedded change that people are five times more committed to. However, if your organisation measures successful change as completed change (i.e. all the tasks completed) rather than embedded change then this approach is unlikely to find favour.
Motivating people in their work
Another key component of creating a purpose for people to believe in is to link the change to what motivates people in their work. A successful approach to embedding change will build a story / purpose that shows a connection to the individual, the team, the organisation, it’s customers and society as a whole.
Find out more about embedding change
In the next part of this series we will talk about how organisations build capability to support them through the change. If you missed it, you can read the first part in the series.