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In Step 4 of James Mallon’s summary of John Kotter’s book, “Leading Change”, Mallon explains key considerations for communicating your vision throughout the organization.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Jamie Mallon, here with another installment of “HT Whiteboard.” And if you recall, we’re reviewing this book called “Leading Change” and guiding a transformation of an organization. In this book, he details steps to go through, and the step that we’re on now is “Communicating Vision,” which is a nice follow-on to the previous step, which was ”Creating the Vision.”

When communicating the vision, I think there are five key points that I pulled out of the book for you. The first is that you have to be simple. Remember, when you create a vision, the people who create that are executives or top leadership, and they tend to think a slightly different way than the vast majority of employees for an organization. And you can’t communicate in the same way. So, simplifying it, using simple words, simple vocabulary is key. And I would also say short. So maybe try to limit yourself to 10 words or fewer in the broad statement.

The second is to use multiple mediums. You can do it through big speeches in front of the entire organization. I think that’s important. But what about short newsletter articles, employee newsletter articles for your general staff, and then maybe small group sessions or emails even? All of those ways are important because you can’t just do one speech and expect everybody to get the message. You have to talk about it in multiple mediums.

The third is that you have to walk the talk. As a leader, people are going to look to you to guide their decision-making and guide their behaviors. And if you act in an inconsistent way with your vision, the change you’re trying to go after, they’re not going to jump on board. So, you walk the talk, make sure that you are continually reinforcing through your decisions and your behaviors the vision that you’re trying to move the company towards.

The fourth is to repeat yourself over and over and over again, and find different ways to communicate that vision. Quite often, people don’t hear you the first time you talk about how important a particular activity is. Perhaps people go to meetings, and they don’t hear it reinforced. Again, it’s important that you repeat yourself, repeat yourself, repeat yourself, and really really embed that vision statement in the organization.

The fifth is to address the gray. And what I mean with this point is there are going to be times when you cannot, you simply cannot act 100% consistent with the vision or the change you’re going after. There might be decisions for budgetary reasons, there might be decisions for market reasons that you can’t, you just cannot do what you want to be able to do. The key in this sense is to be absolutely transparent when you’re approaching one of those decisions or when you’re making one of those changes. Be transparent, open, and honest, and that will help you be consistent with your vision.

The next step is really to reinforce it strongly. One of our clients, Goodyear, they did this great campaign, and it’s still ongoing. It was the “No One Gets Hurt” campaign. Very simple terminology, everyone got it, easily translates to all levels of the organization. This was driven, obviously, from their leadership team through their corporate safety group. But it was a campaign called “No One Gets Hurt,” and it had four pillars. The pillars were leadership behavior, ergonomics, preventive maintenance and compliance, and behavior-based safety. This was an excellent example of how to communicate the vision or the future vision of the company. A really nice one, and I can introduce you to some people who can talk about how they went through that. So feel free to reach out.

The next installment of “HT Whiteboard” is going to talk about how to involve employees and empower them to be involved in the process. So, look, be on the lookout for that one in maybe two or three weeks, and we’ll push it out to you. Until then, make sure no one gets hurt and take care of yourself. Bye now.