There’s a terrible myth that people don’t want change. That’s just not true.
What people are actually afraid of is change when there’s no sense of control. Or when change is forced upon them and there are no options.
Most people, when they understand the challenges, or even better, when they help to define the challenges, embrace the opportunity to drive change in a better direction. Humans are natural problem solvers. We’re naturally inquisitive. We naturally want to invent new ways and better ways. That’s how we jettisoned from an agricultural society, to an industrial society and now to an information society.
“Change, we either embrace it or let it happen.” is how one of our Melbourne clients got the attention of thousands of community members to engage on their corporate plan.
Here are some ways to engage communities on change – whether they’re a suburb, a workforce or a customer segment:
1. Be direct about the challenge.
Yes, use data, but don’t rely on data. Cultural and community change only occurs when we work with people’s hearts and minds, and not just their minds
2. Identify the quantum of change people are facing or want to make
Recognise that the larger the change the more time it will take, or alternatively, the bolder you need to be in how you engage people.
3. To look forward, look backwards first.
In planning for a 30-year future, we’ve immersed the public and experts into an augmented reality world 30 years into the future. That grabbed their attention.
But it’s also unbelievable. S
o, then we immersed them backwards 30 years to understand that in the past 30 years, we’ve embraced significant and unpredicted change.
They soon realise most things are possible when they remember that 30 years ago, we lived in a world where a mobile phone was just a phone without a cord, that we had four TV channels, that many suburbs did not exist and that coffee shops were an indulgence.
4. Engage early.
It takes time for people to understand, get comfortable and then adapt to change.
If your project is about changing how communities live or work, then be clear about the timeframes.
If it’s happening tomorrow that’s going to evoke shock as well as fear. If it’s happening in ten years’ time, then the focus is on how to mould that change.
5. Employees often suggest more aggressive or transformative change than managers do.
Employees often have a better perspective to see what’s needed. And employees are often more motivated to change the company, because they’ve often got more to lose – like the safety of their jobs.
Equally, managers can find it hard to suggest transformative change from a workforce they worry might leave.
More learning insights to come!
At Articulous we’ve engaged with the public, with community groups, Mayors, Ministers and technical gurus. And through that time we’ve seen people at their lowest and their highest.
We’ve sought to understand people’s issues and ideas. From tears and fears to their hopes and dreams. From problem defining to problem solving. In the next post in this series, we look at what we’ve learned about engaging on the environment. Read the whole series.