Change goes through communities Premium

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What is the essence of a company? It’s sum of all the company communities in which individuals share ideas and collaborate beyond the boundaries of management, geography and role. Rather than looking for personal success, employees are in constant pursuit of social relations, fulfillment and a sense of belonging to a group. The ability of directors to identify, understand and influence these communities is thus becoming a key competence for developing the agility of organizations. The challenge is to let go of a “one-size-fits-all” approach in favor of tailoring messages to different populations with varying interests.

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Using communities to spread change
• Visualizing informal communities: list the various stakeholders who have particular interest in the changes. But be careful not to limit yourself to the company’s formal organization in what is a classic mistake: focusing efforts on just one specific department.
• Tailoring your choice of communities to the type of change required: for small-scale changes, cohesive networks are the most effective because most individuals who gravitate around agents of change will already trust them. For radical changes, centralized networks are the most effective choice because anyone who is resistant to change is unlikely to form a coalition.

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• Find the right allies for change: innovators, who willingly embrace change, experts whose expertise unites other employees around them, and established leaders whose length of service gives them legitimacy.

Accelerate the pace of change using virtual communities
• Promoting ownership of change: A company’s internal technologies 2.0 promote change ownership. They are participatory, which makes it possible to garner feedback on ideas and problems. Then, once the decision has been made and things get moving, they encourage membership and individual accountability.
• Breaking down the barriers that block the dissemination of change: lack of dialogue between management teams and employees is an obstacle to change. Collaborative platforms can help support the exchange of best practices. They enable the concrete realization of transformations and help to managers to identify areas of tension.

Business Testimony:
As its workforce continues to multiple, KL Tech (a Malaysian telecom company) relies on the company’s internal informal communities to develop a culture of customer focus. After two years, the CEO is already observing the successful adoption of new behaviors.

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Change goes through communities

Based on, among others, “5 Tips For Growing Changemaking Communities In Your Company” by Alexa Clay (FastCompany, December 2013); “The Network Secrets of Great Change Agents” by Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro (Harvard Business Review, July 2013) and an interview with Michael C. Habib, CEO of KL Tech Communications (Kuala Lumpur), January 2014.
Business Digest N° 243, February 2014