Change management: Organizational change is typically a process that is better in theory than practice

Dave Townsend

President

Friday, July 17, 2015

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Organizational change has perplexed companies for decades. It is a process that is always better in theory than practice because people and emotions are always the constant unknown. Change happens slowly. Adoption takes time. And it’s particularly difficult in organizations where people are the primary product – service industries, sales driven organizations, consulting business, etc. In these types of organizations, change relies almost entirely in shifts in mindset, behaviors and attitudes.

This process is both non-linear and mostly subtle, as behavior and attitudinal change are never instant. Often this “non-tangible” change is accompanied by an extra helping of organizational frustration, simply because it is hard to know when you’ve actually hit certain goals. This is a reality of organizational change, but there is one tool that can help exemplify change and give all involved a “handle” to put on the ethereal nature of shifting behavior and help them carry it forward in their everyday interactions with colleagues.

A brand can be that “handle,” that tangible representation of change that, done properly, can become a rallying point for evolving organizations. It is important to consider all aspects of a brand: the verbal, the visual and the cultural. Brand development started from the inside out creates a focus and consistency for any organization.

The Verbal

The verbal part of the brand, especially the story elements, becomes the common language, the guide, to how each employee should interact with one another and points to values intrinsic to the culture. This layer of shared understanding, facilitated by story, becomes the bedrock where change takes root and moves from theory to consistent action.

The Visual

The visual aspects of the brand are the parts we most think about as tangible representations of a company and the change they want to embody. Humans are visual animals first. We instantly respond to visual changes in our environment. Our memory and emotions are sparked by visuals. So the visual change of a new identity, brand colors or other elements, become a huge facilitator/indicator of change taking shape. It reminds us of what is changing and, in many cases, why it is changing.

The Cultural

At their heart, brands are representatives of the company culture. Not just what we say or see, but what we do. The cultural aspects of brand development involve practices, habits and traditions. These “touchstones” become behaviors that employees have in common. Commonalities form bonds that move new behaviors through a transition period to becoming something new the organization believes in or represents.

And, isn’t that the goal of change – to get to a new place, to be seen in a new light, to breathe new life into a company? Developing a new brand from the inside out is the greatest tool you can have in your quest to manage the change that is necessary to push your company to a new place. It allows you to “put a handle” on concepts that otherwise are hard to internalize.

How have you “put a handle” on organizational change for effective change management? Let us know on Twitter via @IntrinzicSays.