How to Implement Change the Human Way (part 1): Create Vision to Engage


Do you recognize this picture?

  1. Change Initiative fails*
  2. External experts brought in to determine “what happened and what happens next”.
  3. Colossal waste of resources for everyone (time, energy, money).

If you’d like to change this vicious circle in your team, group or organization, your #1 goal should be to build partnerships that embrace and drive change.

In part 1 of this 3-part guide, you’ll learn the first step to building partnerships that will enable you to successfully implement change THE HUMAN WAY.

*70% of Initiatives fail


If you were relocating to a new town would you move somewhere where you had no influence in town decisions and developments or would you join a place where your contributions made a positive difference (dictatorship or community)?

Just as Command & Control no longer works to effectively lead others, dropping a Change Initiative on a workforce first and getting their buy-in later doesn’t work either.

The key to making organizational change stick is company-wide engagement, not top-down coercion.

This means engaging all affected workers in the Change Initiative from the very start.

You do this by making joint decisions whenever possible, co-creating needed solutions along the way and giving them a voice in the entire process.

In short, people prefer meaningful participation over being sold to (buy-in).

Below is the FIRST CRITICAL STEP to make this a reality in your team, group or organization.


You know Kouzes and Posner’s expert leadership advice to “Inspire a Shared Vision”. It’s the one of the must-know 5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership from The Leadership Challenge.

This Practice is just as relevant if you want to successfully implement change at any level, especially the “shared” part!

If you want others not only to support but also participate in your Change, you’ve got to engage them in it.

This means involving them in it from the beginning. Your vision should also inspire a sense of purpose and meaning (think community vs. dictatorship).

Here are 3 Powerful Tips to share your vision and engage them in it at the same time:

  1. Understand Your Audience –

Before you can inspire and motivate anyone, you have to know what drives them.

What are their needs? How does the Change touch them personally? How is it aligned with their goals and aspirations?

When they see and feel how the Change is aligned with their need and aspirations, they will work with you to implement it.

  1. Pack a Punch –

PunchUninspired language is demotivating.

Words without meaning don’t stick.

So make sure your words and messages pack a punch by using strong and active language.

Can you feel the difference between…

“Productivity will be increased by this new system…much time will be saved.”,


“By having access to the information yourself, this new system will enable you to work 3 x faster. As a result, you will save loads of time!”?

Purpose-drive language should describe the change as you see it.

They need to hear and feel why you want the change and specifically how it will benefit them.

  1. Be Visible –

You are the face of the Change. Therefore, it is critical that you are consistently visible and accessible.

So talk with your people. Show how important the change is for you and what it means for them.*

*Be prepared for push back. Resistance from others is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen your case.


To most humans, change is hard to accept, let alone embrace and drive.

Therefore, the most effective way to implement change is to do it in a human way.

Change the message from: “Get on board or get out of the way!”

to: “We need you. How can we make this change successful?”

To inspire and engage people in your vision right from the start:

1. Understand their drivers and tailor your messages accordingly.

2. Use powerful language to inspire and move them to action.

3. Stay visible and accessible to all, from start to finish.

A vision which does this is the 1st step to successfully implementing change.

Stay tuned for steps 2 and 3. In the meantime, I need your help…

What has helped you successfully implement change in your team, group or organization? What has hindered you?

  • In a McKinsey Quarterly article called “The psychology of change management; 2003” one could read also about the fact that change needs time to be understood, digested and adopted … :
    “How can adults best be equipped with the skills they need to make relevant changes in behavior? First, give them time. During the 1980s, David Kolb, a specialist in adult learning, developed his four-phase adult- learning cycle. Kolb showed that adults can’t learn merely by listening to instructions; they must also absorb the new information, use it experimen- tally, and integrate it with their existing knowledge. In practice, this means that you can’t teach everything there is to know about a subject in one ses- sion. Much better to break down the formal teaching into chunks, with time in between for the learners to reflect, experiment, and apply the new princi- ples. Large-scale change happens only in steps.”

    • I fully agree – change (any scale) happens in steps. And time for reflection, experimentation and application must be part of the equation! THx for sharing, Marco.