Compelling change visions are memorable, they stick with you and guide you during the messiness of change. I can still remember how effectively a leader at a previous position at a health care organization brought home this point, from her own view as a patient. We were undergoing a major change initiative, with some people showing resistance to the change that was being suggested, namely moving to a more patient-centered care delivery approach. Much of the resistance was because people were not sure why we needed to change, we had always received accolades for our technical care.
This leader told a heart-felt story of her experience during a cancer screening at one of our own hospitals. The screening was routine and done many times each day. Yet hearing her describe how frightened she was and describing how relieved she was when a care-team member spoke to her as a person gave us all a clear vision of a more patient-centered future state.
John Kotter describes this as leading from the heart. In his book, The Heart of Change, Kotter highlights that change visions must first help people “see” the future in a way that engages their emotions, then their “feelings and emotions” will guide them to new “actions and behaviors.” Successful change visions use a “See – Feel – Act” pattern.
Kotter provides tips for how to do this on his website, Kotter International. Briefly he encourages leaders to:
- use imagery and metaphors
- don’t use jargon or acronyms
- be energetic and enthused
- make sure your behavior matches your vision
- be visible and share the vision consistently and often
- bring the outside and personal world into the vision
Leaders need to wear their hearts on their sleeves when they articulate the vision for the future.