4 Building a coalition
A key success factor in change is the number of people who actively support it – the coalition of the willing. But who these are matters a great deal – whether they are opinion leaders or not could make all the difference.
Reflect back on Rogers Curve of Innovation. Is your change so innovative that you could be considered an innovator? Could others think you are a bit nuts for even thinking of it?? Be brave – because that is what we need now – some fundamental and earth shattering change.
However, if your idea is too much of an imaginative leap for those around you, they might discount it as unrealistic. You need to get some early adopters on board – they are the people that others listen to – they are your opinion leaders.
Change is either facilitated or inhibited by the opinion leaders in your organisation – who are they? They are not usually your early or late majority – they are not the people waiting to see what everyone else is doing – they are the ones that are making up their mind either way. They are the early adopters or the laggards and have significant influence on those around them – people listen to them and look to them to see which way to to go. If you play your cards right, they will become your champions.
However, it might mean that you need to remove your ego from the equation. You might need to let go of the need to be seen as the leader; and you might even have to engage people who you might not normally like to work with. The opinion leaders are not always formal leaders, or the people you would necessarily engage as part of your leadership team. But if they are not actively engaged at this point and in some signifiant way, they might turn into your ‘laggards’. So suck it up.
Your role as a Champion
The Champions need to keep checking alignment between what people are saying and doing – and what change is required – up and down the organisation. The champions keep the conversations alive and talk about the change, the wins the ways forward, the whys. People will mimic what works. Your role as a Champion is to keep communicating. Your role as a Change Agent is to make sure the Champions have the right information, evidence and messages to promote the change. This is where your communication strategy is so important.
Who are the opinion leaders? Who do you need to lead others – who is the other lead(s) that will inspire others to get on board?
How will you get them on board.