- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

The alternative Post-mortem of failed change programmes. (and 5 of 5): we communicate too much.

In this miniseries I have shared so far four inconvenient truths uncovered by the forensics of ‘change management’ failure:

Too many people involved instead of two few
Too much vision instead of lack of it
Too many activities, no continuity plan, lost of fireworks
Born to fail: high antibodies from day one

The fith inconvenient truth is that,  in fact, instead of the usual suspect and inevitable culprit of ‘lack of communication’,  we communicate too much.

Entire transformation programmes, culture change and reorganizations/redesigns are based upon ‘Communication Programmes’. The narrative is perhaps well crafted, the messaging ready an conveyed,  and the succession of workshops and roadshows in place. All rolling. All cascading down. All for an indisputable purpose.

So why is it that it does not do the trick and, in fact, it contributes to that awful 75% ‘failures of change’?

Two reasons:

  1. Overcommunication saturate channels in the receptor. Translation: here we go again, Peter descending from HQ heaven with the powerpoints, initiative 23 of this week. Whatever. (‘Whatever’ is the greatest Amercing idiom export. If you hear ‘whatever’ in the staff receptors, you’ve lost the plot. In a British only context, if you hear  ‘that is very interesting’, you can’t be sure that your proposition is anything but interesting
  2. Communication is not change. In doubt, picture thousands of billboards in highways, shopping malls and TV screens: smoking kills, don’t drink and drive, get the flu vaccine, don’t give sugar to kids. And then tell me about the effectiveness of communication-only-change. Behavioural change does not take place via communication campaigns. Unless push-down communication campaigns are married to a pull-bottom up, behavioural copying (‘network effect’),  the only way behaviours scale up. Then the package is dynamite.

Too many people involved, too much vision, no continuity plan (no change platform), lots of one off, fireworks/ corporate (flashmobs) activities, starting where there are more antibodies, and, by the way, doing the whole thing via a top-down-mother-of-all-communication-programmes, will ensure you your skillful and healthy contribution to the maintenance and even growth of that 75% failure, track record of ‘change programmes’ which we all in management are so proud of.

We can do better.