Stories as a key tool for change

We got some valuable advice from a learning and development colleague to just start. Start writing up and sharing our insight, don’t wait until you are clear and definitive on what might be called a content strategy. Bring a more agile, iterative approach to our consultancy by sharing our insight with our client community. Especially, given the most important thing for us is to be the node for insightful dialogue with and amongst current and prospective clients.

In that spirit, the thought we had over the last couple of weeks is to highlight and remind us all how critical it is to set out and promote stories as part of the process of delivering change within organisations. And to pay attention to the way the stories are told. The specific steps that you take to build awareness, understanding and commitment across the organisation that ultimately lead to the changed behaviours that deliver the desired outcome.

So, we know it’s not just about having the right answer, the right thing e.g. the right digital strategy, the right enterprise architecture, the right change portfolio, the right statement of a new customer journey, the right  solution design, even. We know it’s also about how you enable that ‘right thing’ to engage with the real world of the organisation and the people in it. We learnt many years ago the importance of stakeholder engagement in delivering change, how important communication is. The thought we are adding here is that it is not just getting the messages right, the words in the communication. It’s also about the way that the words are communicated and about building the messages over time to become coherent stories that will enable change. Preparing for and delivering specific conversations at the right time will ensure the stories have the desired outcome.

A good example was a discussion at a panel focused on DevOps that I chaired with HSBC, BBC and Legal and General a week or so ago. We noted that delivering value from DevOps for your organisation is not just about re-orientating your teams along product or service lines, not just about the tools, it’s not even about the ‘micro-standards’ that we made the case for in an earlier insight piece. DevOps is about shifting the behaviour of the people in your organisations as a whole, and not just those that work in digital technology. And a critical part of the process that delivers that shift in behaviour is the stories that are told about DevOps. Stories help the process get started and build confidence that the approach will work. Stories of success and learnings from failure build commitment and performance and stories sustain everyone when it gets hard.

We encourage you to devote time and resource to take your consideration of stakeholders and communication strategy to the next level of maturity. To adopt an approach which is more akin to campaigning. To consider the stories that you would like to be circulating in the organisation about the right things you are doing. And to take care to  think through the steps you will take. The conversations, the messages you will deliver at key stages, the evidence and materials you will need to reinforce the power of the stories.

Stories are a key tool in changing behaviour to deliver change.