The co-ownership of #change

Change is a difficult thing, resisted by both systems and people. We crave stability, the status quo. Within our everyday lives, meaning is created in the moment: founded on knowledge and experience. It’s forged within communities and evidenced through action. In the Social Age, where organisations are in a state of constant change, it can become harder to create that meaning: when boundaries shift, it’s easy to lose our place. To enact effective change, it needs to be co-owned by the community, not just rained down from on high.

The co-ownership of change

Change does not rain down on us from on high, rather it’s stories are co-created and co-owned by the community. Or at least it is if you want it to stick…

Organisational change is a difficult thing to achieve, but to do it successfully, we have to understand how culture is formed and how it responds to change: once we understand this, we can influence it and craft magnetic messages. We have to find ways to listen to messages going up the chain, not just try to push messages down.

You see, change does not come down from on high (although the strategic imperative for change may do). You cannot effect change simply by lining up ‘leaders‘ and telling them to make it happen: you cannot do it with any number of corporate videos and engagement projects if you don’t listen at the same time. if you want to change the system, you have to engage it at every level. A grass roots approach.

View it as storytelling: change is not one story that you write that gets cascaded down through the structure. Rather, the story is co-created at each level throughout the organisation, made relevant to each group in each retelling. Or at least it is if you want it to stick. This does, of course, mean that your story can evolve, but that’s really the whole point of it: it will evolve to be more relevant to each group that hears it. Good change projects engage people at every level, supporting them in creating a new meaning in the moment and sharing that through narratives.

I’ve written before about narrative, but you can view it in three levels: individual, co-created within a group and organisational. You need all three for successful change. Individuals gain understanding and co-create meaning within communities. The organisational narrative rides above this, charting and documenting the change: part of the conversation, but not owning it.

Approaching change is about a mindset as much as a communication strategy. In the Social Age, where we can’t assume the contract between employee and organisation is strong, we need to be magnetic.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Adaptability, Agile, Challenge, Change, Change Management, Collaboration, Community, Conversation, Culture, Knowledge, Meaning, Narrative, Storytelling and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The co-ownership of #change

  1. Pingback: The co-ownership of #change | CUED |

  2. tanyalau says:

    Nice post Julian! …And the reason is that change cannot simply be cascaded down by management is because organisational change necessarily requires employees to enact it – i.e. to change the way they work. Change only happens if the PEOPLE in the organisation change their practices (not just because someone at the top tells everyone that change has happened). I think another misnomer about org change is that the change is complete once the platform/technology/strategy/structure etc has been ‘implemented’. Often, (particularly in the case of technology projects) that’s only just the beginning.

  3. akanksha7 says:

    Reblogged this on akanksha7's Blog and commented:
    I think this is something we need to strongly understand and implement in India, as crime and social discrimination against women has reached intolerable levels.
    Not to mention political corruption, which we ALL want to change, but dont understand it in depth of.

    • julianstodd says:

      I work with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, a mentoring organisation that looks to develop business skills in women running micro businesses in the belief that greater earning potential for women will lead in turn to greater political power: a louder voice in the community and a greater ability to effect change.

      We see a lot in the news over here in the UK about the recent rape cases, a growing recognition that things need to change.

      It’s an important battle you need to fight, but rest assured that you are fighting for rights and equality with many international friends right behind you.

      We have seen how people organise, using technology, around important ideas: that has to be part of your answer.

      Best wishes, and thank you for sharing your thoughts, Julian

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