By Peter Buckmaster, Production Director
We live on a spinning rock. It catapults us at 1600 kilometers an hour. It is only the sense of inertia that reminds us of the speed we travel at and the rate of change, the feelings when our body stops but the earth continues.
Toffler’s 1970 novel “Future Shock” discusses what happens when people are overwhelmed by change. It tells the story of someone becoming lost on a trip to the supermarket because the environment around them has changed overnight. It hypothesizes that it’s “not only the direction of change but the rate of change” that needs to be considered, focusing on how quickly we can adapt.
In contrast, the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” tells the story of mice and their inability to change, resulting in their death, starving as they continually revisit their feeding ground despite the fact the location of the cheese has been moved. In my early career, a print copy of the book had been placed on employee’s desks by the CEO. We quickly dubbed it “a guide to change management for people about to get shafted”. My then CEO had worked for a government department implementing some rather unpopular change programs. My feelings were that his view on change and their impacts were not good and this was later cemented with his implementation of some adverse employee conditions. Feeling sorry for myself, I went home and started to import CDs into my mini-disk Walkman…this was 10 year ago. The idea that I could fit several CDs on a small disk excited me and reminded me that not all change is bad.
As a digital agency we ask our clients and consumers to change every day. Despite this, the concepts of change management and its theories are almost out of date. Kotter, the father of change management theory and his “Change Model” are over fifteen years old. The ideals are accepted as key activities in any project and referenced by any project management methodology. Yet we often forget its impact in digital marketing.
Digital lives in constant change, while things like online shopping in Australia have taken 10 years to be adopted by consumers, the impact of social has been faster. In 2008 organisations had yet to develop a policy or approach to social. PR releases and any communication required a lengthy process of approval. Social challenged this through an always on channel that required an immediate response and ongoing engagement in a two way conversation.
Kotter concepts of change are based in organisations, yet the ideas support the principals of any change program. For me the fundamentals in delivering any project or campaign still include his principles:
- Make people really want it
- Identify advocates/amplifiers
- Link it to a vision that people can easily remember
- Communicate the vision to the broader consumer
- Remove obstacles and build buy-in
- Create short-term wins to demonstrate success
- Anchor change in ongoing behavior so it is sustainable