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Steven M. Smith

Steve, I agree with you a 100%.

Let me share some suggestions.

1. Know your audience

Your examples work well when the audience is sales people. In my experience, the audience is often a mix of people in different roles. The more you can segment the audience, the more succinct and powerful your potential message.

2. Explain why the change is necessary

You've said this was done, but that isn't often the case in my experience. The most powerful messages I've heard tells people the impact if the change does NOT happen.

3. Ask each audience segment for specific actions

Your examples are excellent. Use a similar approach for each segment.

4. Share the information you will use to make adjustments

Change doesn't move in a straight line from reality to desire. That only happens in someone's imagination. The change will require course corrections. Share the feedback information that you will use as a basis for making those corrections.

5. Ask for suggestions from audience members about other actions

Your view is from the top. Each segment will know of important actions to take that you aren't aware of. Empower them to work with their management to make them happen.

gl hoffman

Again, spot on.

I believe these broad topics are like a politician's pablum promises...in the general sense we are all FOR good decision making, global warming and better health care. IT is always when we get to the specific...as we ALWAYS must,...that more care needs to be taken.
Specificity sells, in other words.
I am putting together a very different type presentation on Creativity in the Workplace ( not the title by the way)...and I find your posts nice reminders in this area.

Steve Roesler


These folks represented a cross-section of the company's disciplines. In this situation, it was important not to segment in order to get the original message out to the key managers so that there was no "whispering down the lane" effect afterward.

Your #5 is the million-dollar move and one that all "change" initiators need to put into the repertoire. In fact, if more time was spent on that activity, a lot of initiatives would gain more commitment and momentum a lot faster.

Thanks for weighing in. . .

Steve Roesler

Hey, GL,

Glad these are helpful...look forward to seeing the presentation if you get a chance to post it or shoot it this way.

Gotta use (with attribution:-) that phrase "Pablum Promises" somewhere along the way.

As for promises without specificity: they are a sign of lack of clarity (therefore, don't act yet) or deception. We are experiencing the results of both.

Aleksandar M. Velkoski

Nice, clear, and simplistic approach to change. Nicely written.

Barbara McLin

Change! Mastering that topic can take a lifetime for some. Well done and right on point!
Congrats on winning Kevin Eikenberry's
"Best of Leadership Blogs 2009"!

B McLin, WTE Group

Steve Roesler

Barb, thanks for the kind words...much appreciated.

Chris Witt


I love "Visionary changes can be captured with images and big picture ideals; Behavioral changes need to be grounded in the specific."

I think you planned just the right event for the CEO. I'm not sure I would have wanted him to get into the specifics at that time. The next step -- a follow-up event? a planning session? a series of teleconferences? -- might be the more appropriate forum for specific actions.


Wes Roberts

...wanted to add my congrats for being chosen the best leadership blog

...so glad others agreed with me. :-)

...will keep looking for and being encouraged by your exceptional blog!

Ryan Quinn

This is a critical point, and supported by research. Another thing I sometimes suggest when working with clients is asking them to come up with their own, concrete, specific ways to implement the abstract values we are trying to inculcate into the culture. This (1) gets them thinking about it for themselves, (2) gives the leader a chance to see what they are thinking, and (3) allows people from different organizational positions to apply general principles in ways that are appropriate to their situation.

Steve Roesler

Thanks, Barbara.

Steve Roesler


There were a number of events to follow up. And very quickly.

We got the key managers together, developed the specifics for each of their areas, and then took time to develop a presentation for each that combined the big picture with their details. Some version of those were done by each subsequent supervisor and lead technician so that everyone was involved and actions were edited and refined in ways that worked for each unit.

Turned out ok...

Steve Roesler


Thanks for weighing in. Your suggestion is not only an effective one but the one we ended up doing. (See comment to Chris above).

These were all long-time, effective employees at all levels. The key to success in these situations (at least in my experience) is to be crystal clear about the outcome desired and why it's important; then, turn them loose to make it happen. You'll quickly find out whether or not the initiative will sail along or whether some people need more support with training or coaching.

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