You can change a dozen things or start with just one

One of the most popular activities among seasoned trainers and facilitators is to have the participants stand up and pick a partner. And after that, they’re all asked to change 12 things about their appearance (tousle up their hair, unbuckle their belt… one gentlemen even unzipped his pants)!

The response is almost always overwhelming! Some suspect if they even have 12 thing on! Nonetheless, most people get confused and can’t move beyond 4 or 5 things even after a good 3-5 minutes. The trainer, sensing hesitation and overwhelm, then instructs participants to change just one thing about their appearance. And then after a minute another thing, then another, and another until they’e changed a dozen things about their appearance.

It’s a fun-filled yet powerful exercise (though overused in my opinion) to see change in a different perspective. And as we all know, all change is hard at first but the way leadership manages and communicates change makes it even worse for affected people, which is most like the whole company.

We marketers are no different. We want to try every little (or big) in the bag and end up burning the budget and ourselves with close to minimal impact. Why? The audience simply got overwhelmed!

What surprises me further is our inability to think from the people’s (at the receiving end of the stick) perspective or perhaps plain lack of empathy when it comes to “your” initiatives. Don’t get me wrong, it may be the greatest initiative on the planet but still wouldn’t make a ding because you didn’t care enough about the people to be affected.

This is elementary. Yet, we miss it out completely.

I don’t have an antidote. All I can say is we need to start using our brain and be more empathic. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO, marketer or even a coach… what you think about your initiative is far less important that how it’s going to affect the people at the receiving end of the stick.

If change is warranted, by all means go ahead and do it! But you need to roll it out strategically, keeping the longer-view in mind and all the while over communicating with the people who will have to adapt. If you’re expecting your game-changing initiative to be rolled to in 3 months, you’re simply being an insensitive idiot.

Don’t be one.

Remember, a dozen changes always will start with the first one and then the next, the another and another, until you’ve implemented them all. And that takes time.

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