‘Broadcast‘ is not simply a technology, but rather a mindset: a mindset in which the organisation believes that it owns both the authentic story and the authority over the story. A firm belief in both ownership and the right to own is what makes the organisation Resistant. It not only can’t change: it fails to recognise why it should change, and actively fights change, deploying antibodies and healing over it.
As we work our way through the model, to segment the Resistance and create spaces for change, to create the foundations for change to build upon, we can utilise some specific approaches to erode this resistance. There are ways we can respond to organisational storytelling told from a broadcast perspective to open up the dialogue and introduce even the possibility of co-creation.
Initially, we need to open up spaces: places where conversations can occur. These spaces can’t be formal, or internal, because otherwise they are spaces of conflict and dissent. Instead, they need to be parallel to the organisation, outside, it, alongside it. They are not spaces of protest, but rather spaces of reflection and sense making. They are governed with humility and authenticity, not hierarchy and control. They need to be inviting spaces, open spaces, free spaces for rehearsal: they are not final spaces, formal spaces or performance spaces. They are ‘what if‘ spaces.
It’s in these spaces that we find allies and recruits, people who want to make the organisation better and help it become agile: it’s in these spaces we find people willing to invest in the future.
These are challenging words: resistant organisations often don’t want to change, we are helping them to change, from within, for their own good. We are creating the seeds of the change community.
It’s worth noting that Resistant organisations are not bad: rather they are often superbly adapted for a world that no longer exists, and because people have become invested in the hierarchy, because they benefit from the empires that prop up these entities, they resist change.
This is why we need new spaces: spaces where people can invest themselves in both the shaping of and building towards a new future state. By their nature, these spaces often open up around projects or people: leaders who have an interest in change, or projects that are disrupting the status quo anyway. These are the early pebbles thrown in the water, whose energy we can harness.
Once we have our space, we can invite dialogue: this can be done by migrating responses into the new space. Taking broadcast messages, ones that are pushed out, but choosing to respond to them in our new permissive space. Just because no formal place to respond is provided doesn’t mean we can’t respond. We can provoke dialogue if permission to converse isn’t granted.
A powerful way to engage is with energy: take formal, broadcast stories, ones which are thrown out in the expectation that we will just listen, but instead choose to iterate and respond. Rewrite the story, using the same narrative, but new words. For example, Cascading stories are ones that are sent down the organisation: we can continue to cascade them, but also choose to share a response or interpretation. Se we don’t defy orders by changing the story, but we claim a permission to respond with context, to make the story relevant and contextual to our unique audience.
If we look across at the Social Leadership model, we see that it talks about ‘Interpretation‘, taking organisational stories and interpreting them to be relevant and timely to our team. By claiming this space, we can engage in dialogue, not just about the words of the story, but about the narrative itself.
So the first assault on Resistance is to claim space to engage, in non threatening ways, supportive and iterative, not denying and repulsing, taking organisational stories and claiming permission to tell and retell them. We can evolve our tone as we do so: sometimes questioning, sometimes sharing, sometimes gently challenging, sometimes curious and asking for more. Constantly moving our tone of voice in these claimed spaces ensures we do not end up at a place of conflict or dogma. Nothing is less helpful than just validating resistance by entrenching opposition.
By creating separate spaces, possibly peripheral to or outside the organisations control, we also give the possibility of agents of formal control engaging in this new space. We see this widely around customer service on Twitter, where organisations that traditionally respond through formal authority and control are (being forced) to engage on the terms of the community, or at least are being forced to engage if they don’t wan to simply be out of the conversation.
In turn, we adapt our behaviour: when i faced an intractable problem with my bank when travelling last week, i engaged on Twitter, because their formal telephone space wasn’t working on my terms. And they reached out and solved it. More on my terms. This type of mobility, claiming stories into semi formal spaces represents at least and embryonic agency for change.
We need to recognise and reward individuals and teams that do this: not with formal respect and recognition, neither or which may be in our remit to give, but rather social authority and reward. Engage with and recognise the early adopters: build political and social remit and power for change. Claim power through community, not hierarchy.