If there’s one great flaw in most of the stories that organisations tell about change it’s this:
A story illustrating change must feature a decision or choice being made that is different from decisions being made today.
It’s not difficult, it’s not rocket science, but it’s crucial and it’s often missed.
One of the difficulties, I suspect, is that to tell a story with a different choice in it implies that the choice being made today is wrong. And being wrong, in many organisational settings, is still a very scary place to be.
Then again, if you’re not wrong now, why are you changing?
And every manager, every leader is already telling stories in the organisation. The problem is that if their presentations and speeches are based on change, yet their stories aren’t, we know from experience that the stories take precedence.
One tool that’s helpful here is to look at current stories of things that aren’t working – not full-blown disasters, as there’s too much baggage to those issues – and build the full story arc, walking through it backwards to spot where crucial choice points are in the story. And they can be surprising – just the act of looking at them often sensitizes managers and execs to the day-to-day moments when a different choice can have a huge impact.
Much easier than a huge change programme. Although they can help too…