The Good, the Bad, the Ugly!

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Community is at the heart of S&S. Without our community, we couldn’t have achieved so much over the last five years – from the incredible client wins, to our prestigious awards, extensive media coverage and the countless events we’ve hosted at our bar The Jolly Orange! And while the pandemic may have caused us to rethink what collaboration looks like for a people-centric business, we’ve refused to let it impact our community vibe.

Over the last few months we’ve led several breakfast seminars, which have unearthed some incredible insights from our community. Not wanting the late risers to miss out, last month we hosted an evening ‘Drink & Debate’ session, where we invited members of The Change Society to share their stories…

Down and dirty

Why are horror stories always the juiciest? It’s like we gravitate towards them so we can relish in the pain – perhaps as a way to make us feel better about our own battle scars. But a crucial part of our community is to create an environment where people feel safe to share their war stories, so others can learn from that experience and avoid following in their footsteps. 

So what are the biggest challenges our community has had to overcome?

Act too quickly

We’re probably all guilty of saying “yes” too quickly in the past. This rush to get started risks  misunderstanding the ‘why’, and the danger is we give an answer to the wrong question.

Lack of ownership

Every change has an owner and as change agents it’s our responsibility to find them because without them, change will take longer and won’t be embedded, which makes it prone to failure.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Fail to provide sufficient content or context and either front office staff feel ignored, or you make assumptions about what they want – risking the cultural shift needed to make change stick.

Leading by example

Words are all well and good, but at some point, you want to see some action. It’s very easy to talk about how things work in theory, but we all know the reality is very different and things rarely (if ever) run according to plan. At S&S we advocate how to achieve excellence through continuous improvement and learning through doing, rather than attempt to implement an imperfectly planned 500-slide presentation. 


We choose to work in this iterative way based on the experience of our 1,000-strong Change Society members – and as we count the successful 16% among our clients, we know it works. Rather than attempt to deliver change in a single big-bang approach, we take 1,000 smaller steps. With shorter feedback loops, we’re afforded the opportunity to reflect on what has/hasn’t worked and apply the lessons learned before taking the next step. We deliver quickly so stakeholders can see, touch and feel things now, instead of waiting for 3-5-years. And we deliver predictable value to the business every 90-days. 

So what other wise words did our community share about what works well during change?

1. Visualise success

Everyone loves a rich picture. When you take the time to map the benefits visually early on, it helps the working group agree on what needs to be done and why. Plus, change owners love it, because they can slide the 1-page PDF into their board pack and share the vision more easily.


Things to think about:

  • Use an infographic to show the journey, future state or the ‘as-is, to-be’ picture.
  • Include key metrics, both financial (like ROI) and behavioural data (like surveys). 
  • Use it at every opportunity to retell the story and demonstrate progress.

2. Engage stakeholders

Where is the power?! Every change project requires owners, sponsors and external support. As change agents, it’s our job to know what success looks like in the eyes of the owner to ensure the change we embark on is fit-for-purpose.


Things to think about:

  • Identify and build close relationships with those who have influence outside their job role.
  • Make time to have informal catch-ups to ensure every voice is heard. 
  • Benchmark what you’re doing against the competition.

3. Brilliant basics

The small stuff might not seem ‘sexy’ but is essential to success. In a changing environment, people hunger for information to help them understand what’s needed and why. And they want reassurance about change and their role, so they feel they want to be a part of it.


Things to think about when managing change:

  • Over-communicate to feed people’s desire for knowledge.
  • Get the owner to nominate a proxy to act on their behalf to prevent the pace of change slowing.
  • Make yourself available and communicate where and when you can be found.

If you only remember one thing…

Never lose sight of the end goal

Most change programmes take a long time. In fact, they’re never-ending when the business is focused on continuous improvement. As people enter and exit the business, external forces come into play and as the organisation grows, your short-term priorities will change. And when you only ever borrow time – because people are busy performing their ‘day job’ – it’s easy to forget what the bigger picture looks like.

But you can’t.

For change to succeed you must play back the ‘why’ at every opportunity – make it part of the onboarding process as new people join the project/business, use it as the first slide in every board meeting, plaster it on the walls to remind everyone of what they’re working towards and why their role is so important.

Your 1-page infographic is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal to help you communicate change and make it meaningful.


Get in touch…

If you’re planning a change initiative and want to feel safe in the wisdom of our community, or if you fancy joining us for a future event, make sure you get in touch.