What’s your call to adventure?

Aug 18
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If you’re leading a digital transformation program or any kind of change, you know that one of the first things you need to do is gain support for the idea. You need to get a critical mass of key people to recognise that there’s a need to do things differently. 

John Kotter, author of Leading Change, outlines an eight-step process for leading successful change, and he calls this first step ‘Establishing a sense of urgency’. A crisis or potential crisis can create a sense of urgency, and so can a major opportunity. But if there’s no sense of urgency, the transformation program fails because people don’t see the need to take action.

Getting others to feel this sense of urgency can be difficult. You might see things coming down the track that will have a major impact on your organisation, but if they’re not affecting other people yet, it’s hard to get their attention.

What if there was a different way to think about it? What if you used the same principles Kotter outlines, but you thought about your transformation strategy as a story?

A new perspective on change

Good stories all contain this sense of urgency, but it’s called something different. In story terms, it’s known as ‘The Call to Adventure’. It’s the thing that shakes up the main character’s world and causes her to undertake a journey into the unknown. And just like there’s no change without a sense of urgency, there’s no story without a Call to Adventure. The character would just sit quietly at home doing the same things she’s always done. You wouldn’t pay to sit through two hours of that at the cinema.

So instead of establishing a sense of urgency, what if you looked for a Call to Adventure for your transformation program? In my work with organisations, I find this small shift in perspective can make a huge difference in the way they think about the change, turning it from something that creates anxiety and resistance to something that engages their imaginations.

What’s the Call to Adventure in your strategy?

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Submitted by Patricia McMillan

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