The Case for Change is the best formula to structure and communicate the vision for change. The leader’s objective with the Case for Change is to establish baseline level of awareness and understanding of the changes. Once defined, it’s time to implement it following five principles:

  • Train employees and stakeholders on how to apply the new set of values on a daily basis.
  • Put the new values into practice by changing behaviors
  • Leaders have to preach by example, becoming the role models that inspire everybody
  • Ensure that everyone is aligned with the new values and behaviors, and correct if necessary
  • Celebrate results achieved by any employee or community member to encourage others

The key ideas of driving culture change to understand are that this has to be started from the leadership positions, practicing what you preach, communicating to convince their organization or community while listening, understanding and addressing their possible resistance, achieving and celebrating results, and benefiting all stakeholders to engage them further.

To communicate the vision and the Case for Change effectively, the storytelling techniques can provide us with many tips. Effective leaders tell stories that position them and their organizations as change agents instead of defenders of the status quo. Stories are pull strategy: they allow people to decide for themselves, which is one of the great hallmarks of effective influence. In the case of destinations shifting their model it will be necessary to explain to them the model vision in a compelling way that connects first with their emotions and human spirit, to open their want for a deeper understanding of the process and purpose.

Stories are the best way to help people imagine how the new model is likely to improve their current status quo, how it creates value and improves the community’s life quality. Stories convey the new model ideas to the people’s minds describing them in a way that overcomes resistance, the most likely reaction to new model propositions challenging the status quo. By capturing people’s attention, stories are to pave the way for an in-depth presentation.

Such destination’s vision is not only necessary to convince the community members to integrate, but also a guiding force that constantly aligns everyone’s efforts on their contribution to expand the destination model to the utmost of its potential and to accomplish the mission statement.

When crafting the case for change, it is convenient to craft some stories that illustrate for an individual what the change is going to be like, escaping formality to make it more familiar to the audience. Then, it is necessary to remind of the basic features that good stories share:

  • A strong sense of a plot: the story should provide listeners with a sense that the organization is going somewhere exciting
  • Meaning that drives action: employees should be able to say “I know what to do in my area because it fits with my values and where we are going”
  • Multiple and consistent versions: each person who hears the story should be motivated by it in different yet compatible ways
  • Inevitable: listeners should come away thinking “it had to happen that way”.

Further, stories are effective for culture change purposes when they are:

  • Simple: listeners are not overwhelmed with detailed facts and information
  • Relevant: the purpose and theme of the story matters to those who hear it
  • Inclusive: everyone can see themselves in the story
  • Emotional: the story excites, delights, surprises, or otherwise moves the listener at an emotional level. It engages multiple senses.
  • Friendly, not cynical: even sad stories should leave the listener feeling hope, understanding or satisfaction.
  • Shared by many people: the story is interesting and important enough to be shared over and over again. The best stories get more compelling when they are shared and refined as part of a dialogue before being passed on.

Beyond the story itself, mastering the art of storytelling to make stories compelling requires several skills and strategies to take into account:

  • The teller should convey his or her own personal energy, excitement, and conviction. Using phrases such as “I feel…”, “I am doing this because…”, “I want to go for this…”, or “I know we can do this” may help in transmitting positive vibrations.
  • Providing context, like using a global perspective to gain understanding about the threats that force the change or raise ambition about the scale of the opportunity
  • Being clear on the rationale for change by drawing on both the burning platform (the need for change) and the shining beacon (what can be achieved with the change)
  • Using simple language that is relevant to the audience, translating technical terms into words that everybody can understand easily
  • Showing personal commitment, making it clear what would be done differently and how the staff are to be supported during the change process.
  • Using tested rhetorical techniques so long as the teller can build them into his/her own style. For example, using repetition for emphasis like “I believe we can do this, I believe we have the skills to do this, I believe we need to do this, etc.”

This blog post is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation”, freely downloadable in this weblog. You may check the Whitepaper’s references to know the sources used for its elaboration.

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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