Journal

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See Change?
Finding the will and the way – to defeat ‘ain’t broke’

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Change is the one constant of Folk’s consulting work.

Proposing, discussing, managing it with our clients – be it their services, positioning, customer experience. Helping leaders decide if change is worth the investment.

Building the case for change.

When somebody’s something ain’t broke but improvement could be impactful, the role of revealing the hidden fix is especially difficult. They may already be committed to updating their digital platforms, but rethinking parts of their service delivery might take more convincing.

And conviction.

It’s tricky. Risk vs Reward. Feel vs Facts.

However. Neither intuition nor information – both often limited – are enough to act. The compelling case for change needs to create motivation and a sense of urgency.

Here, we offer three considerations to reveal and realise change in your organisation.

Build conviction
To make a compelling case we need to generate two kinds of supporting data.

The first is qualitative insight – the voice of the customer.

Mining customer feedback, interviews and contextual observations helps to reveal the motivations and choices going on behind customers making purchase decisions or using a product or service. It brings where-the-rubber-hits-the-road-context to the case you’re building. Real stories creating empathy for the problems or opportunities your proposed changes are trying to solve. It anticipates the tangible benefits and value you’re trying to create.

It’s surprising the role that emotional connection can play in motivating change.

The second category is quantitative data – understanding behaviour at scale.

We draw from analytics in online search behaviours and how people already use and navigate digital platforms. We search through proprietary customer data. This kind of data reveals patterns of use, different customer segment needs and mindsets and it establishes the size of challenges and opportunities. All of this can be generated from public sources or from internal systems. It provides the backbone that qualitative insights sit around.

Decision making without both types of data becomes one-sided and we find doesn’t get the level of buy-in needed to really commit and leap ahead. Behaviour at scale reveals your baselines but also the potential size of impact, while qualitative stories show what the real underlying problem and value equation looks like.

The size and shape of things to come.

Reveal the concealed
A recent article in Harvard Business Review ‘Persuade your company to change before it’s too late – how to make the case when the evidence isn’t clear yet’  talks about using the same mix of data in getting a business to act early in the face of industry shifts. Its authors spell out the ‘information-action paradox’ wherein ‘public data’ and ‘freedom to act’ are inversely related.

That is…

When new trends and industry disruptions are only emerging: 1) there’s little-to-no public data (information) yet available to build a case for change; 2) it’s also the time a business has the most freedom to make moves (action) to get ahead of competitors. When the data is finally available, others will have already made the first moves, restricting what you can do and dialling up the urgency for your organisation to now keep up. In these situations to build a case for change they propose turning to ‘private data’, made up of the same mix of qual and quant sources, to lower the threshold of proof and motivate early change.

The article gives the examples of KWM Australia, a law firm of about 750 lawyers and part of a global network. In 2018 a few leaders were seeing signs that significant industry disruption was coming. Companies promising implementation of ‘legal tech’ was on the rise, many clients were building internal law teams and the large accounting firms such as PwC had announced their intent to build up legal practices. These signals were enough to convince a few leaders that disruption was on the horizon, but personal conviction was not enough to motivate 150 partners to act and invest in change.

Using ‘private data’ it revealed ‘the firm’s overall growth masked its commercial challenges at the low end of the market, where disruptive change often begins’.

Fresh analysis, less paralysis.

Slow the conversation, grow the conversation
As the data begins to set the stage for change, resist the killer slide deck to all your stakeholders.

It’s rare that a presentation will motivate the action you need. Especially if the need to change was well hidden. And still is to most.

Share the vision. And ownership.

Motivate your stakeholders to see something new and get a conversation started around it. Allow room for others to add their own stories and things they’ve seen that align with what you’re saying. The naysayers will also be useful, revealing the things getting in their way of seeing things differently. They set the threshold of proof that needs to be crossed.

If allowed some breathing space, stakeholders will begin to see the signals and patterns you’ve raised in their day-to-day. These will become increasingly front-of-mind and carry a sense of urgency. The conversation will grow and you can continue to add data as fuel.

This approach adds momentum to strategic change and decision making, creating more room for further innovation in your organisation.

Seeing is believing.

To remain open for business... remain open to change.

The challenge is constant. Fact the facts. Share the vision.

For those that don't...

The end. 

Written by:
Michael Bloom, Strategy Director and,
Graham Barton, Creative Director.