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Not the Change Curve again..!



The Change Curve- oh no not that again..!

At the recent Teneo Conference on Excellence in Internal Communication (23rd - 24th June 2010) were some great speakers, from organisations like ROYAL SUN  ALLIANCE, RWE nPower, AIRBUS, UBS,  HM Revenue & Customs and CADBURY to name a few. Each their to provide insights into best practise from their own experience and organisations.


Often Internal Communication is the phrase given to the broadcast of key messages across a whole organisation. It is meant to be the direct two-way communications between employers and their staff. Downward, upward and horizontal and is a vital means of addressing organisational concerns of all stakeholders. Too often it is a top-down broadcast from the Leadership who genuinely want to bring the rest of the organisation with them.  Unfortunately when 'a few' broadcast to 'many' the 'many' tend to duck...

At this conference the consistent theme was the "Change Curve" - the psychological chasm we all have to negotiate as we undergo some form of change in our life; in the case studies presented
at this conference it meant a change in the culture or practices at work in those organisations.

For a change programme to stick - we have to get a critical mass of people (some say as little as 20% - some say as much as 49%) to buy-in to the new world order. Depending which model of the change curve you pick there are various landmarks on the journey that people in an organisation go through. Being a simple bloke I prefer simple models so my favourite has four stages.

  1. Deny the need to change
  2. Fight / Argue against the change
  3. Explore the change, both positive and negative aspects
  4. Accept the change.

As there is no short cut - you can't go straight from Stage One = Deny to Stage Four = Accept.

In organisations those who've already made it through the curve, often the Leadership who've come up with this new idea, tend only to see the bright new future and have already forgotten the pain they went through at the bottom of the curve. The peeps still to make the journey can only see down... Only see the pain and surprise surprise many resist...

While each speaker mentioned the Change Curve - each brought a new insight into how they addressed it so personally I enjoyed both the feeling of - oh OK it's not only me that faces this - as well as the myriad of ways an old chestnut like the change curve can be applied.

Overall I am convinced more than ever that 'internal communication' - has to mean the internalisation of an idea within the hearts and minds of everyone in our organisation because we have to get everyone as an individual through their own change curve - internal communication can no longer be a broadcast - it has to engage each and every person in thinking, talking and working on that idea; on creating that new reality in each person's mind - partly as their own idea - so they take "ownership"

Imagine a calibration of understanding and ownership across a critical mass of your people in your organisation...

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