Building campaigns to drive change

It’s an interesting time right now. Technology is driving nearly every sector through significant changes to their businesses. Change teams are working with L&D managers, technology managers and communications teams; all trying to align strategies. Lots of money and time being spent – but are we achieving the outcomes we really want?

The problem with change

It’s long and slow and never ends

Large change projects span a long period of time. They build up at phases, drop off in others. And the ‘end point’ is more like a series of ripples rather than big waves. Perhaps there is a ‘ta-dah’ moment, but we usually slide quickly into the next phase of change.

We have to upskill for an unknown future state

This type of change affects our people in many different ways. We try to analyse the gaps to define the training needs; but that’s challenging when we often don’t know exactly what the end solution looks like or the processes that will go with it. So we have to plan to develop training in a continuous cycle as we drive towards the change.

Learners have comms overload

We know that we need to engage our people over the course of change. If staff know all about it, they’ll be on board with our vision right?

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. What we often see is an overload of comms; updates, emails, guides, presentations, training, announcements, blogs, intranet pages, videos, FAQs, Quick Reference Guides to name just a few.

And as a result, learners are becoming lethargic and ambivalent to change. Messages just don’t hit the mark; there are too many, too early. They are left asking:

"Will change EVER come? Just tell me when I have to do something differently."

Using campaigns to drive change

So how do we bring our people on the change journey, with enough information to lead them through but not so much they switch off? One way we can do that is by using campaigns to drive the change messages.  

There’s been plenty written about campaigns  and how campaign thinking is effective in delivering messages to drive your organisational outcomes.

Here are a few ways you can use campaigns to support your change programmes.

  • Tell stories
    Stories are powerful in painting a picture of the future and describing the outcome. As Hannah Arendt says, “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” A story can give learners a vision they can hook into – but also can leverage other intangible messages; behaviours, capabilities, customer interactions, future technologies, team interactions, organisational drivers to name a few. Think about different ways to tell your story – high or low media or interactivity, online or physical.  

  • Leave some gaps
    With change, we don’t always need to show how we get there (at least, not immediately). That is, you don’t need to tell your people everything. Let them fill the gaps and generate conversation with others. Let them start engaging with what they don’t know. Maybe they will organically ‘train’ themselves.

  • Short, media rich, using different channels
    Make your interventions fun, short but rich. Using media will engage a range of thoughts and feelings on many levels. Be creative in how you use your channels. If your organisation has digital overload, make a book or a board game.

  • Create a buzz
    Ideally, your interventions will go viral! So get creative – what can you do to invoke action or discussion? Starting think flash mob vs manager-led presentation. Make sure you get the mix right; don’t overuse one channel. A range of different interventions will keep it interesting.

  • Less is more
    Be selective about what you do; choose high quality, engaging and exciting interventions that will invoke maximum response.

  • Get the timing right
    Think carefully about what’s delivered and when. Try to bring everything back to your learners; when is the last possible moment they need information to enable them do their jobs or deal with the change ahead? Sprinkle the messages over the journey; just enough at just the right time.

  • Two way, not one way
    Behaviour change comes when individuals take action. Find ways to move from passive viewing to active engagement. Be creative and think about how your people like to communicate; perhaps it’s through competitions, video comments, forums, up voting or favouriting, pulse surveys, team activities. Or maybe a mix of things will work for your different audiences.

However you choose to run your change programme, think about what will work for your people and not overloading them. Think about how your messages will compete, and get the timing right. Be selective and creative in designing interventions that will excite your people and engage them in conversation. Share stories to paint a picture of the future because after all;

 'True change takes place in the imagination' - Thomas Moore 

To find out how to build a campaign to support change in your organisation, contact us


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