How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Get people to accept that a change is real by providing a steady stream of evidence to demonstrate that the change has happened and is successful.
Plan for change projects to reach milestones and deliver real results in a regular and predictable stream of communications that is delivered on a well-managed timetable. This is as opposed to the early 'big bang' followed by a long period of relative silence.
Communicate through a range of media. Get people who have been involved to stand up and tell their stories of challenge and overcoming adversity. Ensure the communications reach everyone involved, and do so multiple times.
Keep posters and data charts up to date. Regularly show progress, demonstrating either solid progress against plan or robust action to address any slippage.
A global company that is implementing a project-based system of work regularly prints photos of teams and tell success stories in the company newspaper.
A police force that is cracking down on low-level crime regularly sends officers out to local community meetings with stories of the actions taken and prosecutions that have been successful.
Evidence is a powerful tool for persuasion, particularly when people are doubtful whether something is real. This is particularly powerful when presented by people who are trusted by the audience for the information.
Lack of evidence is evidence of nothing happening. Aging charts and posters will be seen as evidence of change projects that have either died or are quietly fading away. When people hear nothing, they assume nothing is happening.
A common trap in change management is to put lots of effort (and money) into a big bang kick-off, with lots of announcements, hand-outs, posters, and other marketing. This is successful in getting attention. It also sets expectations. What often happens next is that the 'quick wins' are quickly harvested, leaving a long dead space before the more difficult work starts to complete. In this gap, commitment can easily wane as the initial flush is forgotten and the tough stuff starts to bite.
A steady stream of evidence is needed because people are not always convinced by a few pieces of early evidence. However, if they see evidence in every direction that they turn and that new evidence continues to appear over a period of time, then eventually even the most hardened opponent will have to concede that the change is real and is here to stay.
How long the evidence stream should be is a good question. In some cases, it need only be repeated three to six times, but more often something more like weekly evidence for six months is worth the communications effort. Even better is that the communication becomes institutionalized and that provision (and attention to) evidence of whatever change is going on is a norm.