I don’t know why we talk about change and narrative as two separate things, as if one can exist without the other. A story is about change. A change requires a narrative to interpret or communicate it.
This generally involves internal narrative, which helps us decide whether a particular change is good or bad. It dictates the likelihood of whether that change will be successful; a bad feeling or memory towards a change will provoke resistance. A good one will encourage acceptance.
Eventually, internal narratives become external. A manifestation, almost.
I read somewhere recently that grief often marks the transition into the next chapter of our lives. The change. I thought it was a bit sombre when I read it, but the more I think about it, the more I realise how much truth there is in it. When we move to a new chapter (house, partner, baby, job), we depart from an old way of life. And we grieve for the good parts. For familiarity.
How do we overcome that grief? The urge to keep things as they were or to lament an old way of life? With hope. And a narrative for the future. The thing that keeps us moving forward is the thing that keeps us from lamenting the past. The internal mantra that things will be better, which eventually becomes our reality. Or vice versa.
It’s the same in organisational change. Too often employees are left to grieve a way of life that they saw nothing wrong with. In the absence of a powerful future-shaping narrative, they create their own internal narrative, which then influences the outcome of the change (spoiler alert: it’s not good).
As we continue to move rapidly through so much change, we must find ways to manage the urge to grieve for the familiarity of the past. And instead look ahead towards the future. Towards hope. As individuals and as businesses.
Next week we’ll host a webinar on developing a change narrative that actively shape the successful outcome of change. We hope to see you there