Why internal changes fail so often (And how an audience response system can ensure success)

February 18th, 2016

Picture the scene; you’ve spent months defining a new initiative that will definitely make your company more agile, more profitable, more fun, more ‘everything that matters’. All that’s left is to get the workforce on board. But you’ve got this under control with a beautifully designed internal comms programme. It’s perfect, exploiting brochures, emails, management briefings, company social feeds, desk toys, and everything else available to you, the modern communicator. It can’t go wrong! Or can it?

How often has your perfectly designed plan failed to gain traction and eventually become ‘that thing we tried last year that didn’t work’? How often have you blamed it on ‘politics’, ‘poor timing’, ‘lack of budget’, or some other clichéd scapegoat?

We’d argue that you’re laying the blame in the wrong place. We’d argue that your plan might have been perfect, but that its failure lay in missing the opportunity to listen to the workforce at two critical stages:

  1. The beginning.
  2. The end.

That’s right. The beginning and the end. Because the bit in the middle is where you probably focused your effort, because that’s the bit that felt like you were being the most productive. That’s the bit where you spent most of the money and time brainstorming ideas to improve agility/profitability/reputation/customer satisfaction/stuff.

But without getting the beginning right, and without nailing the end, you might as well not have bothered.

Let’s take a look at why, and see how a system like OMBEA Response would have helped you listen harder to bring more people on board more quickly.

The beginning: Collecting ideas

You wouldn’t develop a new customer product or feature without first understanding your customer. And by the same token, you shouldn’t ignore what your employees have to say. After all, they are the ones that affect, and are affected by, the key indicators of company health. And that means that locked up inside their heads are the insights you need to win everything from marginal improvements to massive gains.

So you need their ideas, but how do you get them effectively? You can try everything from suggestion boxes to anonymous online surveys, but you won’t get everybody’s ideas and you’ll struggle to initiate a dialogue about the context and depth behind each one.

The solution is to use an audience response system like OMBEA to run internal focus groups where you can capture everyone’s thoughts and ideas. Although people will contribute anonymously, displaying instant results allows you to stimulate group discussion, which is a great way to shape pivotal revelations from kind-of-okay-but-incomplete ideas.

You’ll also enjoy the added benefit that you involved people early, which makes them more likely to be on your side later.

The end: Checking they understood

So you took all that feedback and you turned it into some earth-shattering new initiatives. Now you’re ready to communicate them internally. At some point you will stand up in front of a group and present them. Now pay attention, because this bit is important:

You are not done until people confirm they understand what you’re talking about.

True, they contributed at the foundation stage, but that doesn’t mean they’ll understand how their ideas helped you form your plans. So your job is to show them, and then double-check they get it.

The beauty of using OMBEA at this stage is that you can invite people, through the questions you pose, to react and critique anonymously. You could just go for, “Do you understand our plan?” However we would encourage you to elevate the session by using questions like ‘What impact will this idea have?” or, “How well do you think this will work?”

And then you’ll know for sure, and so will they, that everyone is on board.

(Or not, but at least you’ll have a clue how to fix it immediately).

OMBEA is an audience response system that displays live feedback on people’s opinions and knowledge. It’s super-easy to use with your Microsoft PowerPoint slides for voting, engagement and assessment. For more information visit www.ombea.com.

Find out more

Give us a few minutes and we will let you know how organizations just like yours have increased their revenue and engagement.