Categories: Change Management

Change management require a compelling story

Don’t just tell employees organizational changes are coming — Explain why

Start the change management process with a clear and compelling reason for the change

Too many change programs don’t fully deliver due to lack of foundations – a clear and compelling reason for the change, understood and bought into.

Change management require a compelling change story, communicating it to employees and following it up with ongoing communications and involvement.

But in practice there are some pitfalls in achieving the desired impact.


Two types of change stories

There are two types of change stories consistently told in organizations. The first is the “good to great” story – something along the lines of:

Our historical advantage has been eroded by intense competition and changing customer needs – if we change, we can regain our leadership position.

The second is the turnaround story – typically a burning platform:

We’re performing below industry standard and must change dramatically to survive. We can become a top-quartile performer in our industry by exploiting our current assets and earning the right to grow.

These stories both seem intuitively rational, yet they too often fail to have the impact that management desire. Research by a number of leading thinkers in the social sciences has shown that when managers and employees are asked what motivates them the most in their work they are equally split among five forms of impact:

  1. Impact on society – for instance, building the community and stewarding resources
  2. Impact on the customer – for example, providing superior service
  3. Impact  on the company and its shareholders
  4. Impact on the working  team – for example, creating a caring environment
  5. Impact on “me”  personally – my development, paycheck and bonus

Management need to be able to tell a change story

Management need to be able to tell a change story that covers all five things that motivate employees. In doing so, they can unleash tremendous amounts of energy that would otherwise remain latent in the organization.

But before leaders can get buy-in, people need to feel the problem. People aren’t going to consider anything until they are convinced there is a problem that truly needs to be addressed.

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Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom

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