How to Make Change Catch Fire Like a Pyromaniac

An ‘e’ ticket? How did you feel the first time you left home with one of these in your pocket?

Partly naked, I’m sure.

“Never leave home without your ID, money or ticket.”

I realize there’s a whole generation or two who might laugh at this 20th century Golden Rule.

However, the e-ticket was revolutionary at the time – unwelcomed by those of us who’d grown attached to the paper ones, as well.

According to the IATA, the first e-ticket was issued in 1994…”but the evolution was slow and by May 2004, only 19% of global tickets were electronic”.

13 years later, is there any other option?




A leader is chosen or self-appointed to help an organization grow. Anyone who’s ever been part of a great organization knows that Change is vital to growth. Nevertheless, people are resistant to Change.

Reduced job security, loss of status and responsibility, fading career opportunities – a few of the real and imagined risks when it comes.

So what kind of leader does it take to convince a customer base to abandon their secure paper?  Or persuade an entire industry to swap its physical music collection for an invisible one?

A leader who can inspire a shared vision and communicate the shared benefits of the Change, i.e. build a compelling case for it.





Here are 3 powerful ways to help you fight through the resistance in your team, group or organization and make Change catch fire:

  1. Share your vision and the attached benefits – make the Change compelling for all.  If it benefits only a few, it won’t catch fire!
  1. Acknowledge the real and perceived risks – don’t avoid the elephant in the room. Talk straight, build trust.
  1. Make the opportunities outweigh the risks – increased responsibility, higher profile, better career prospects (classic Change opportunities).

After all, if people were so attached to the status quo they’d still be at their first job.




So make the Change compelling to all by clearly communicating how it will specifically benefit them.

Here are 5 strategies to help you with that so that it sticks:



If there are no clear or immediate benefits, get creative and dig deeper.  Every cloud has a silver lining…and not always on first sight.

Remember, Change is vital to growth. People are resistant to Change. Therefore, a leader has to build a compelling case for it to catch fire.

This is how you fight resistance and make it catch fire like a pyromaniac (well-intended one).

For more tips & strategies, see “6 Powerful Behaviors to Facilitate Positive Change“.

How to do you make Change catch fire in your team or organization?  Please share your comment with me and my readers below.

  • Hi Tim.
    thanks for the article.
    Although all these communication strategies aren’t that new to me I think it is a really nice acronym that helps leaders to keep in mind these essential aspects when communicating!
    I will definitely use them with my participants.

  • Hi Tim, I’ve also read the “70% of change initiatives fail to achieve their goals” statistic. The main reason is the wrong type of communication. Too many executives go for either a mechanistic, top-down (i.e. one-way) approach to communicating or launch a marketing campaign to “sell” the change. It’s as if they are scared of the authentic interactions you talk about. At best, this becomes a high-quality monologue; at worst, an echo-chamber. Either way it leads to failed change initiatives.

    I really like your SMART acronym. You allude to what I say is one vital element in successful change: dialogue. A mindful, regular and transparent (to borrow your terms) dialog with all stakeholders is the basis of winning change initiatives. A dialogue builds the basis of trust and motivates employees to change. Better to have an imperfect dialogue than a high-quality monologue.

    • Yes, absolutely agree. Also, a dialogue is 2-way, monologues 1-way. 2-way dialogues make people feel like they have an equal voice. THanks for your comment, Steven!