Most change management practitioners would agree that telling a compelling story is one of the key building blocks of a successful change strategy. We all know that, in order to prompt a change, there are important details which must be communicated – a clear vision for the future, a convincing reason why the change is necessary, what needs to be done in order to make the change happen, and so on. Much time and effort is often spent on fine tuning these messages, with the goal of creating something that will “resonate” with stakeholders. However, we often overlook the fact that how
we tell the story is just as important (if not more so) than what we’re saying.
Even the most logically irrefutable case for change will fall flat if it fails to captivate your audience’s attention. Convincing someone of the need to change often requires an emotional response – we need to get to people’s hearts and not just their minds. Traditional mass communication vehicles (executive speeches, email blasts, intranet postings, etc.) are invaluable for day-to-day information sharing, but these impersonal channels are not necessarily the most engaging or attention-grabbing. People often learn the most, or have the greatest personal reaction when they’ve experienced
something, rather than just having been told about it. A real-life experience will always stand out in people’s minds far more than a statistics-laden infographic they’ve read.
As an example, check out Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution
. Jamie is a celebrity chef with a goal of improving people’s health by changing the way they eat – certainly a daunting challenge from a change management perspective. However, by telling his story in many different ways over time, and setting up highly-engaging experiences for people to see and feel the change first-hand, he’s able to make his point heard. It’s this kind of storytelling that sticks with people, and provides effective inspiration to consider making change happen.
So, in your current change management initiative, what can you do to help turn your story from something people passively receive, to something they can actively do?