Why change? Should you change? Is it time to make a change? If not now, when? These are all questions organizations struggle with all the time. If things are going well, do you really want to rock the boat? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
There is no shortage of companies that had this attitude toward change. Many of them are no longer in business or have lost valuable market share because they failed to see the value and importance of change or failed to react quickly enough to changing customer desires.
Companies such as Netflix continue to grow because they are constantly changing how they offer their services to their users, whereas companies like Blackberry and Kodak are eroding because they failed to change with the times.
So, let me ask you this: is your organization relevant in your current state? Are you as a leader and as an organization connected emotionally with your customers? Is your leadership aligned with your team?
These are all questions that you will need to address when creating a plan for change and they are part of the 3P Change Equation framework used to help leaders and organizations stimulate change. A large part of the process involves understanding how to frame change and doing so in a way that establishes a rational and emotional connection.
Leaders Need to Understand HOW to Frame Change
Every organization must change if it wants to grow and evolve. As a leader, you are responsible for making change happen. The key is to understand HOW to create sustainable change.
Sure, you can mandate a change in internal processes, hire new people, and create new strategies, but if you want to create real sustainable change, you must engage the people in your organization.
Successfully engaging your team starts with framing change in the right way: framing it as an opportunity as opposed to a threat, communicating the purpose of change, being passionate about it, and having a process to achieve change. These factors need to be in place for leaders to tap into people’s emotions and get them to buy in. Emotion is the match that sparks action, and it starts with a clearly defined purpose for change.
Creating Change Requires Both an Emotional and Rational Connection
Creating change requires two fundamental elements: the rational and emotional parts of our brains, and this has been expressed by many people in the past. Plato talked about our heads having a reasoning (rational) charioteer who has control of a passionate (emotional) horse.
In his book The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt, a University of Virginia psychologist, also refers to these 2 elements. He refers to them as the emotional Elephant and the rational Rider.
I like the visual of the rider perched on top of the elephant, holding the reins and seemingly in charge. And this concept works—as long as the elephant agrees to go where the rider directs. However, when the elephant (our emotions) decides to go in a different direction, then the rider had better hang on, because at that point, they are just along for the ride.
The Elephant and the Rider perfectly explains why so many change initiatives fail. If we are unable to tap into the strength of the 6-ton emotional elephant — then what chance does the 190-pound rational rider have of truly being in control?
An Emotion Connection Creates Engagement
It is a leader’s ability to connect and create emotional aligned with their organization that stimulates change. No matter how powerful the rational argument, whether you are a leader, marketer, or even a parent, it is not until you’ve touched their hearts and create an emotional connection that you will be able to change a person’s behavior. This can be accomplished by showing your passion for change in a way that resonates with your team – address what matters to them, speak from their perspective, and communicate that you understand their pain points.
As a marketer, I discovered long ago that people buy based on emotion, and then rationalize based on logic. How else can you explain why so many people purchased a pet rock, beanie baby or mood rings?
People consistently make purchases and buy into things based on an emotional response. This is why marketers talk about the benefits of the products they are trying to sell, not just the features—it is the emotional benefits of a product that draw us in.
For example, in the alcohol business we aspire to the lifestyle portrayed by marketers, and then we buy the wine. In the fitness industry, we buy into the “new you” persona, then we buy the health supplement or piece of exercise equipment.
This concept is no different when trying to get your team to buy into change. Until you engage their emotions, you can never gain your organization’s buy-in to embrace change. People buy into concepts based on emotion and then rationalize based on logic.
Organizations can inspire change by following the 3P CHANGE EQUATION — a framework used to focus on both the emotional and rational elements. It includes 3 essential elements that are critical for CHANGE – Purpose, Passion, and Process. The next article in the series will discuss the first “P” – the important role having a clear Purpose plays in creating sustainable change