|One of my favourite examples of this comes from Method. Their mission is to make the world a cleaner, greener and more colourful place. They launched in 2000 in San Francisco, and are now selling soap in 40,000 locations globally.
In 2015, Method made the decision to build a manufacturing plant as part of their growth agenda. To achieve their goal of having a positive impact on local communities, they set up the plant in Pullman, a community in Chicago with high unemployment rates. Then GM of North America, Michelle Arnau, was responsible for managing this change. In particular, getting everyone in their San Francisco headquarters (HQ) on board. Setting up a manufacturing plant is not the most ‘sexy’ of projects for a team of innovators working in the start-up hub of the world. And the project was going to be a significant financial and cultural investment.
Michelle highlighted to me the importance of creating moments to connect Method’s people with the why behind this change. As she said, “I could have said ‘Don’t worry, in 10 years, our profit margin will be 10x bigger than it currently is’ but that would have done nothing.” Instead, Michelle created defining moments for her people along the change journey.
For example, before building the plant, Michelle flew members of the Pullman community to meet with the team in San Francisco. A retired police officer shared his experiences of how unemployment and alcohol-abuse affected the community. In doing so, Michelle was able to connect her team with the community and highlight how their investment would have a positive impact on real people.
A few months after building the plant, as the HQ team arrived back at the office after the holiday season, Michelle surprised them with a volunteer day. As they arrived at the office, there were busses lined up, ready to take everyone out for a day working in their local community. As Michelle highlighted, “People weren’t there because they wanted to make money or sell soap, they were there because they wanted to change the world.”
Looking back on these examples, can you spot the EPIC ingredients? For example, the moment of insight when the HQ team met with real Pullman community members and realised the impact they would have. Or, the moment of pride and connection when the HQ team had a positive impact on their local community by working together as a team.
Next time you need to get a group of people on board with a change, why not seek inspiration from Thunberg or Method – think about how you can create a defining moment; a meaningful and memorable experience that will connect people with the desire to change. Facts are important for uncovering the truth, but emotions drive real change in behaviour.
Charlotte is Inventium’s Head of Learning and is an Organisational Psychologist. She runs Inventium’s “Science of Unleashing Change” program and is partnering with organisations to help them thrive in a constantly changing environment. If you are interested in learning more, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.