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IC change as a good thing

Brexit has many of us in a worry about what’s coming next. The plan seems to be ever changing, so we don’t even know if this is the right time to worry. Alan Coates, 44’s Head of Digital, explores why, as communicators, change is always our friend and should be embraced.

Why change is important

People have been talking to me a lot about change recently. Change communications. Behaviour change. Changing the narrative. Changing IT infrastructure. Can’t we just keep things as they are?

The truth is, no we can’t.

Every business needs to continually change and improve in order to keep its competitive edge. Developing new products, new teams, new offers, new ways of working and new locations to service clients is crucial.

Blockbuster, Kodak, Nokia, Xerox, Yahoo, IBM, Blackberry, MySpace, Polaroid, Sony, Atari and HMV: all companies that were at the top of their industry, and in some cases, hugely so. A few organisations were so successful that they didn’t feel the need to change, right up until they went bust or were knocked from their pedestal in dramatic fashion.

My new favourite way of thinking about this is “if you’re not at the table, you might just be on the menu”.

What about change communications?

When I’m thinking about internal communications, I have a very clear idea in my mind. I’m aware that everything 44 creates or supports should create some sort of behaviour change in people. Whether it’s an article, poster, intranet, speech, podcast, video or town hall meeting. I know that Change Comms is a particular thing – but on a real level, everything we do should have a positive and meaningful effect on our colleagues, otherwise why are we doing it in the first place?

The trick is making sure we are clear about what we want to change – and this goes back to our ‘why’. Our ‘why’ is our vision. Our ultimate goal. The make-or-break. For Tony Blair it was to get Labour into Downing Street. For Google’s Sundar Pichai it was to have 100 million users on Google Chrome in the first 36 months of its launch. For Starbucks it is to “establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow”. Blair and Pichai both succeeded. Due to certain stories involving tax avoidance, I’ll let you decide how Starbucks did.

In fact, let’s take a look at how you are doing. How many of these principles are you already following?

Five key principles on ch-ch-ch-change comms

1. Everybody should know what change we are looking for. CEO, comms team, managers, employees. Everybody.

2. Fill the void. Gossip loves a vacuum. Don’t leave people guessing or they will make up their own story. We love to do that.

3. Be smart about it. Know what works well in your organisation, based on what’s happened previously, and repeat.

4. Don’t do it alone. Equip your senior leaders and managers with the energy and motivation to be the change the business wants to see.

5. Don’t be afraid to change the plan. Measure how things are going. Are you achieving your make-break, your Downing Street moment? If not – revise and redeliver.

#change

I believe that everything we do as communicators should encourage behaviour change in someone, including this article. I’d love to know if this blog has changed how you think or feel, so drop me a note on Twitter @alanecoates to let me know.

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