Communicating Change

Response to: Sales Compensation Plan Changes

I believe the best way to communicate such changes are to explain how they tie into the long term vision of the organization. This requires that such a vision actually exists (which is often not the case). Then all strategies are communicated based on how they support and integrate with that vision. In addition that communication strategy incorporates an understanding about what weaknesses with past practices are addressed by this new strategy. And how this strategy is based upon what we have learned in strategies we have attempted recently.

That is the communication plan shows how using the PDSA improvement cycle has driven the new strategy. This has at least 2 benefits. First it forces management (well ok not quite, it forces them to frame the decision with PDSA but it encourages them to) actually use the PDSA cycle to make decisions which will result in better decisions. Which will also mean, when possible they will have piloted the change on a small scale prior to adopting it widely (avoiding major mistakes and allowing for more rapid experimentation). And secondly it reinforces that everyone should be using PDSA for those changes they are responsible for.

Most often there is no continuity or rigorous examination of past attempts in communicating change. In such situations I see no reason to be surprised that most people just see random changes by whoever is in charge that just must be survived until the next random change.

Free, Perfect and Now is a great book by a CEO at Marshall Industries that eliminated sales commissions as an integrated strategy to improve the performance of the entire organization. I think it is a great book on this topic.

Maybe I should also say that this isn’t a particularly easy way to communicate change (having to actually examine evidence prior to making decisions, then explain how new strategies support…). But I am not looking for the easiest way to communicate change but the most effective way to continually improve. Communication change is important as a supporting process within the systemic goal of continuous improvement. The easiest communication strategy is not important. The most effective methods for the entire system are. That is sub optimize the ease of communication for the benefit of the whole. If you want an easy communication strategy just send an email that says this is how we will do things from now on.

Related: Making Changes and Taking Risks in the Sales ForceCorporate Communication Through BloggingImproving CommunicationStop Demotivating Me!