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languaging Archives - Garrett's Change Management Blog




Cadence is a word used to describe sound in connection to rhythm.

Webster’s gives us:

1. a rhythmic sequence or flow of sounds in language

2.  the beat, time, or measure of rhythmical motion or activity


along with two other definitions that still have to do with sound.

Change practitioners have a way of getting to the “human-ness” of things. Using the word cadence to describe the pace and frequency of communications within an initiative is a great example of this. And it works. Communications themselves do not have their own sound (although they may contain sound… and comically some sort of cadence), but they might in some way create a little buzz (or more buzz depending on “cadence”). So the word fits. I have added it to my repertoire.

Cadence, for change management (and by extension operations) is the frequency of communications.

Yearly, Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly and irregularly occurring meetings are listed in a table or spreadsheet or as a series of bullets in a document (or done really well some sort of visual with links to supporting documents). You can map those communications to stakeholders, check against project level comms., line up with operational interaction and tweak with change specifics events.

  • You may just find the “pace” of the organization does not currently fit your defined end states.
  • You may see that you have created change/communication saturation.
  • You may notice, somehow, you missed people.
  • You may realize you are very virtual in your communications when, perhaps, you need to get people together.
  • You can put what you think works for CM next to the way the organization is interacting now to find paths to guide toward new behaviors.

With all these different ways to look at your communication, maybe feel… hear… (if you are using the true definition of cadence metaphorically), you can sense the “Cadence” of your organization and your change.

So we have a new word in our language bank, or at least a new meaning- Cadence to describe the pace and frequency of communication(s).

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It is always nice to have the best of the best working with you.

Projects and big change are easier when your needed competency list is filled with experts. When all the talent is present more time can be spent on tasks to help behavior change. Thanks to competition, restlessness, the need to switch companies to career climb and the almost disappearance of training/development you will always have a mix of talent (and not so).

: having or showing general efficiency and ability <a capable lawyer> <a capable performance>

: having attributes (as physical or mental power) required for performance or accomplishment <is capable of intense concentration>

Merriam Webster

While it is not revealed in this definition (or a few others I looked at) capable seems to be to be the OK word for expertise.

“They are capable”.

Sounds, “they will do”, “not experts, but better than most”.

Just being capable is better than the lesser, uncapable.

“Are you capable of doing this?” Good thing they did not ask if you were an expert. Even if you are not capable you can probably get there pretty quickly.

Capable also seems to be one of those words that gets better with numbers. A GROUP of capable sounds closer to expertise. That does sound like something that would be good, short of all experts (which could also be a mess of talking heads), a mix of capable stakeholders might make for some successful change.

Here is hoping you do not get on the bad side of capable.

As in, “I am incapable of writing any more” (even though I easily could).

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New years resolution one year for me: every time someone complimented me I could only say, “thank you”. Nice compliments are so rare they should be honored with a smile and a thank you. No more and certainly no less.

More would be all those embarrassed (and, really, embarrassing) comments about how “untrue” the compliment is. Deferral is not flattering and is a rejection of the compliment.

There is too little felicitation in the world.

: to consider happy or fortunate

: to offer congratulations to


Felicitation might be the practice step for compliments.

Learn to enjoy other peoples success and convey your acknowledgement of that success with congratulations and you are on your way to the next step- compliments.

The world, and certainly the change management part of it, needs both felicitating and complimenting.




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Winsome, a trait that should be a given for change management practitioners.

Seeing the world through the eyes of a child can soften attitudes, create energy and make playing on the play ground (in our case the organizational playground) lots more fun.


: generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence

: cheerful, lighthearted

Unfortunately CM deals with the difficult combination of business strategy and the work of individuals. Waiting on the edges are performance measures, individual power grabs, outside influences (like shareholder “value” etc.) and just plain cranky, non-winsome players.

It is that mix of hard to manage influences that can strip the child from the practitioner.

A few rounds of the same patterns can harden the most winsome of us. (For some, like me, who might have too much of that innocence being less winsome equals happy and energetic).

I say everyone; practitioners, leaders and stakeholders alike, go with definition number two- cheerful and lighthearted in order to pull out number one (or hopefully bring back- if you weren’t winsome as a child…).

Winsome gets my nomination for a necessary competency for change management… from someone please.

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Change Management and Social Media- 5 Tips from the Trenches











Social media has found its way into the organization. Fear not, that can be a great thing. The list:

Blog, Yammer, an intranet website for the project/program/initiative/transformation, FAQ’s, a Forum specific to the change, even instant messaging counts.

1. Start Early

The days of staying top-secretive for change are over. Stakeholders are observant and wise. Mess with transparency at your peril.

Still with me?

Use social media to begin a conversation/dialogue early. I can guarantee you it will pull in a good percentage of the information you wanted to gather with your stakeholder assessment (or analysis or whatever you are calling that information that deals with their connection to the change).

People get wind of change and begin looking. Maybe they get a copy of the new software. Maybe they go out of your intranet and find out what others are saying about the type of change you are doing (or thinking of doing in keeping with the start early tip). They will do this for two reasons- one curiosity (that’s likely the good one) and two for “ammo” (not necessarily bad- hey they are participating).  Let them bring back that information and add it to the perspective exchange.

For the change team, and the initiative as a whole, loaded up ahead of time social media establishes at least a first level of credibility.

2. Monitor in Both Directions

Input to build an informational foundation, to start an exchange and, yes, to message (just remember you are defining the “make sense” nature of the change- not ). Input, input, input after your early start to guide perspective, keep things positive and to give good numbers to back up your work.

Now watch.

You will likely see an exchange in each of your different areas. On the Forum there will be a lot of perspective (and voiced confusion). Blog comments will illustrate stakeholders making connections between the knowledge you are giving them and their willingness to participate (in the change not the blog). Your FAQ’s will reduce the number of repetitious questions  which gives you time to address the answers you gave.  Keep an eye on this though. Don’t miss your chance to calmly clarify, clear up perspectives and be GENUINE.

Did I mention transparency?

3. Differentiate Formal from Informal

In the past change communication was through email (or maybe papyrus if you go back far enough). Formal, templated and usually boring. We still have this media and it can be used- for just that. Formal clear announcements. However boring your corporate templates may be (I would give anything to suddenly have all the headers and space hogging titles disappear) they show consistency. Change a color here and there and you can signal what the communication is for (to preempt or give permission for a delete button push).

Now we have informal. Yes. This has made change management so much easier. We can finally, really include the stakeholders in the thinking, the designing and implementation. The big benefit to informal is that touching one person probably touches many (working equally well on good and bad unfortunately).

4. Deliver Tasty Nuggets

We found on a recent initiative that keystrokes would likely be reduced by close to 50%. TASTY NUGGET.

Function 3 was able to adjust their process to get “some number” productivity. Tasty Nugget.

The “big resistor person” is now onboard. Tasty Nugget (although be careful you do not say the wrong thing and throw them back on their chariot).

Tasty nuggets are all of those things that come up in conversations amongst the change team, from leader to leader and around the water cooler (which virtually is instant messaging). There is a lot floating around your initiative that would be very helpful if more visible.

5. Create Voices

No not in your head from the crazy business of change.

Voices from the middle of it all. Voices of leadership. Voices of the individual. The Voice of the change team- and each of their voices. We somehow stripped people of their collocated work environments and now it is hard to share small pieces of each others worlds. What makes them tick? Why do they do what they do? How do they feel they are connected to this whole change thing? Ever hear any of those conversations on a conference call?

Social media is a tremendous gift for change management. It is a brand new medium that can also be used like a set of tools. To not embrace it fully for your initiatives, as a friend of mine would say is, “just crazy talk”. Take these five tips back to work with you. I will bring you more in the future.

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WIFM- What’s in it for me? Another one for the shame semantic list

On the surface this one looks fine.

Knowing WIFM seems like a core essential for getting participation.

Figure out what that is, communicate it and the change process should be good to go, right?


The problem lies in coming up with the “in its” in a way that feeds the process as a whole.

What really happens when practitioners and leaders think of communicating change in this way is that explanations come out condescending and political. Big change is not an individual effort. The answer to the WIFM question that would work for a given stakeholder may be detrimental for the change as a whole. And most change has more that is not for you, individual stakeholder, than for. Because most change has reduction or at least movement of space and people, most change has the need for training and development, change is a movement to a different end state which usually looks unlike the present (so there is no “in it” for the current you).

The WIFM communications and individual responses that I hear (from those who think this approach is a panacea, usually) are almost always hiding or sugar coating something. In fact the one on one sentences often begin with, “Well…”. A sure signal that some thought needs to go in to the response (hint the thought is not for “you” but to protect something at a higher level).

Come on this is silly semantics again isn’t it?

No and so I will give you a replacement-

WDIF Where do I fit?

  • At what point will this individual have a chance to contribute their skill to the movement toward the end state? That honors their expertise.
  • Do they genuinely fit in to the end state in some way? (thanks to new business models, layoffs, outsourcing and others there often is nothing “in it for you” individual stakeholder) This tells them whether they need to develop something, add or change behaviors or be trained in order to fit in later.
  • Answering this helps to place them in relation to others at the end state. It signals, yes sometimes in a painful way, how the organization will be arranged in this new spot and who and what types of people will fit.

Because end states are a mix of what there is now, what will be changed and developed and what might not be useful I like the acronym. Saying it fast sounds like, “What if…”. What if there was this end state? Do you see where you fit? Enter CM’s adjustments to provide fit, maybe enter the wise stakeholder coming up with options not yet considered or enter a realistic assessment with nothing hidden from the stakeholder themselves.

New Change Management, the kind where the stakeholders are wise and you can’t slide things past them, must illustrate end states and show what resources fit. Doing so clearly reveals what does not fit. Smart change processes tweak, mold and adapt current people/resources into the end state. If that adjustment is not possible at the individual level then empathy and reason have to guide to and suggest other options. Stakeholders will often choose them on their own when they see there is no fit and there is nothing “in it” for them. That can often be the most positive individual change effort.

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