Orchestrating successful big change


When I think of an orchestra, I think of the different sections of instruments, the strings, the horns, percussion. The musicians who play those instruments all have great affection and commitment to music, but their skill sets are very different as are, most likely, their personalities. It takes a savvy conductor to create the conditions for great music to be played by them all as one.

So it is with your people. They are all committed to the company, but the skill sets of those in marketing are very different from the skill sets of those in finance. (And you don’t need me to tell you about their distinct individual personalities.) As their “conductor”, you’ll need to be savvy to orchestrate change in a way that enables them to “make great music”.

How to begin? The natural inclination would be to get everyone on a remote town hall meeting and “tell” them the plan for the change, perhaps even explain why it’s important for the health of the organization. Both of these things are necessary to communicate for sure, but I would offer that there is something missing, something that is of paramount interest and concern to each of your people; no matter their department, skill set or personality.

It is this: What’s in it for them?

Why would it be beneficial for them to cooperate, participate and even advocate for this change? What would make this change worthwhile? For them?

Lots of reasons not spilling out of your head? I’ll bet. But just because the reasons why they would want to be enthusiastic about a particular change aren’t immediately evident, doesn’t make them any less important.  In fact, clearly articulating 3-5 reasons why change is good for them could very well mean the difference between a successful or disastrous event. So, take a deep breath and have a think about it, as my British friends would say. I’ll bet you can come up with some reasons (you only really need five) why this change is good for your people.

Keep in mind, each of these five benefits have one important thing in common: they are benefits to your people  – not to the organization. Each of these is an answer to their question, “What’s in it for me?” And each of your people needs to see a few solid reasons why this change will be good for them.

As you plan your next big change, give a great deal of thought to your people, and it will be in their best interest. It will make the process, and your orchestration of it much, much easier. You’ll all be making beautiful music together, and you’ll be heard.

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