How to change the narrative in your organization

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Your organization has good leadership and a sound strategy and yet…

Some teams in the organization actively campaign against change. You work with colleagues who condemn change in their status quo. Some managers still make arbitrary decisions.

All of them can tell you what’s wrong with the organization – especially about the problems with their fellow workers/managers. What to do???

  • Take them seriously, not literally. Don’t enter into their debate about what’s wrong. Think of them as experiencing loss, not resisting change.
  • Pay most attention to the folks who want change to happen – those who are already there and those that are wondering how to make the change happen.
  • Change the narrative about how people work together, how they collaborate, define their roles and take responsibility.
  • Build on the skills they already have. Not just the new skills and processes they need to learn / adapt.

In fact, surprisingly, change as little as possible!

How? Change the narrative about the problems they perceive to be facing by reframing negative gossip, siloed perspective, intolerance of other’s ideas and fear of negative consequences. These are unpleasant but soft barriers to delivering the strategy. It may not be necessary to change a lot of what they are working on or even the way they work. Instead, change the narrative about how they work together. Hard barriers, i.e., systems and processes that do need to change can be lead by a new narrative.

The real problem is undefined wins – Dan Rockwell

Move from fear-driven narrative about overcoming imagined obstacles and solving problems to creating dialogue about solutions for the things that need to get better. This is an opportunity to make the transition less intense. And remember, the change resistors will get it over time, one step at a time.

Here are questions to ask about delivering the organization’s strategy through a better narrative about how people work together, how they collaborate, define their roles and take responsibility:

What do we do well around here? How do we manage to do that?

How has our strategy helped us move forward?

When we work together collaboratively what works? On a scale of 1-10 how are we doing? What needs to get better to move us up 1-2 points on the scale? Suppose we were even more collaborative – what impact would that have on our strategy, our customers, and other stakeholders in the organization?

What works well with our current roles and responsibilities? Suppose that got even better – what would be different? How would that help our strategy, customers and stakeholders?

Don’t forget to help people put the new narrative into action:

Narrative is linear, but action has breadth and depth as well as height and is solid – Thomas Carlyle

Suppose we were to apply some of the above insights and learning to our projects in the next while – what would we see ourselves doing more of, differently, or better right away?

Suppose we were to reframe and/or create some new processes on working together – what would that look like?

A new narrative based on existing resources (vs. problems/resistance) and how to apply those resources to solutions about working together will make it much easier to introduce new systems and processes. Delivering the plan will remain a complex challenge, but people will be working together on the challenge.

More: Pushing elephants through a keyhole.

 

4 thoughts on “How to change the narrative in your organization

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  2. Lesley

    … first thing yesterday morning this email came in and I crafted a response, then the mire of disqus passwords wore me down and poof comment disappeared etc etc … comment = oh my gosh – yourself and P Nazareth are the default ‘scripts’ that run in the background of my work and family life. Your article coincided with my ehiphany wrt freedom of choice. Instead of saying I want to do the right thing, I do not want to be afraid to ….insert freedom of choice and ” I choose to do the right thing, I choose not to be afraid to” …. reframe the narrative of the siloed perspective, negative gossip, intolerance of other’s ideas and it is a biggy here fear of consequences. I am so thankful to know you and the Zen master of networking and self-potential Mr. P. Nazareth esquire. Soft barriers, the strategy will go forward! Like minded agents for change, solution-focused individuals … onward! This is so exciting and empowering. Fear based narrative, like anything in Nature if it does not change it will atrophy and die. Entropy applies here also, but that is for another long-winded comment. your servant in solution-focused problem solving and frying the monkey brain.

  3. Pingback: Social Mobility: How your Organization can Make a Difference | Fry The Monkeys

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