What Ice Bucketing and Change Management Have in Common
by Arnaud Henneville, Dec 15 2014
What can you take from the Ice Bucket Challenge and apply to your next change program or strategic initiative?
Of course by now we are all familiar with the ALS Bucket Challenge, commonly referred to as the Ice Bucket Challenge.
We have all talked about it. We have all seen some of our friends getting wet. And we have all wondered what could possibly push them to enjoy an icy-shower. So by all measure of success, this campaign has been wonderful. In fact, it has raised an unprecedented level of awareness for a disease called the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disorder. In dollar terms, the initiative has generated donations in excess of $100 million. And in media coverage, it feels like the entire planet just froze throughout the summer.
But after summer comes autumn and suddenly – and as we will see for obvious reasons – our friends and the celebs have cut down on cold buckets and our FB-feeds have, too, dried-up.
In view of this classic case of collective euphoria and given that at internaldesk.com we are in the business of understanding people’s behaviors to better address organizational change, we asked ourselves; What has led to such a phenomenon? What should you take from the Ice Bucket Challenge and apply to your next Change Program or Strategic Initiative?
Here are the 4 things you need to know if you want your initiative to succeed;
1. Make a Difference:
In their private lives like when at work, people want to contribute. No one wakes up in the morning with the only goal of wasting one’s day. Rather, people take on a new day with the ambition, courage and passion to move things forward, to contribute and to add value.
Next time you rollout a program, any program whether it is a simple one (like increase Sales numbers by the end of the quarter) or a more complex endeavor such as reinforcing a culture of innovation in your organization, remember that your program shall have built-in elements that will motivate people to deliver to the best of their abilities. As a result of your design employees shall feel energized, empowered, self-actualized. Obvious enough – now, here is the trick: the difference they deliver should not only be for themselves but for others and for the greater purpose; they shall feel proud and engaged – during and after the initiative.
People are social creatures and as such they want to belong. They want to belong to something that is greater than themselves. Today, ‘social’ is a hygiene factor so you need to make sure your rollout has well thought-through ‘social’ mechanics. ‘Social’ can be a lot of things but overall ‘Social’ is ‘open’. ‘Social’ means transparency. ‘Social’ means network effects and peer-recognition – because with those paired the adoption-curve of your initiative will look like the so-called hockey stick. ‘Social’ may also include elements of competition and certainly of collaboration. This can translate in real-time feeds with ‘likes’, comments, progress-bars, completion systems and acknowledgement. Instant gratification and other levers will help you engage people and help people keep-going.
Of course, people want to belong to something that is fun, to something that is empowering. Just look around: Campaigns for donations are nothing new… none until the ALS challenge had gotten this level of exposure and raised so much funds in so little time. Challenge people and suddenly they want to prove to themselves and to others that then can nail it: works every time.
3. Pave the Way
You would be surprised to hear that it took more than a year (from Mid 2013 to June 2014) for the ALS challenge to turn into the sensation it became. The Leadership aptitude of some, aided by technology, just accelerated success. The similarities with the world of business are obvious: 1) ‘Leadership’ has ceased to be a position some time ago. Have your leaders lead by example; get them to roll-up their sleeves and get them to wet their shirts. 2) Accelerate reach and spread by executing digitally. Let’s face it ‘analogue’ is no longer in vogue. And the reason is simple: the audience has changed. Indeed, your employees are online, they expect the same level of engagement from you as an HR leader, VP of Sales or Director of Transformation than they would get from Spotify, Zappos or Twitter. 3) Today real time data allows you to know your audience like never before. ‘Ambassadorship’ is, too, a leadership character. Know your target-market and help your employees help you carry the message forward.
4. No One can Sprint Forever
Like anything in life, successful campaigns too slowly fade away. Think ‘Red-bull Event’: when the circus leaves town – everybody goes home.
Not so long ago, it would have taken a lot of time (and resources – financial and human) to generate the level of excitement needed to make things happen fast. Today, things happen over night, hits come and go like never before (for good and bad). Phenomenon like Gangnam style, the ALS (and let me make a bold prediction here, Candy Crush) are the flavor of the moment, until the next big thing comes around.
In business, we have come to expect the same – after all it’s just human. Businesses need to adapt faster to their environment; they need to change and forever change faster. And to do so, they need to mobilize their troops so all can focus on the same objective and go for it full-throttle before regrouping for the next offensive.
Just like knowing how to initiate a campaign it is as critical to know how to end even a very successful campaign – so you don’t water-down its effect.
At internaldesk.com we have bucket loads of well tested advises to help you succeed with your next business initiative. Contact us now for a pre-study.
First published in trainingmag.com and edited for LinkedIn.