I was thinking about the topic of change management again today as it has come up in a few different ways this week.  First, I was reconnecting with a friend in my network who happens to specialize in consulting on change management.  We were discussing how difficult it is for companies to know what they are getting into when they implement a big Marketing Automation (MA) project.  It’s not just about the technology – that’s the easy part.  It’s much more difficult to change your processes and people around the technology.

Then this morning, I was reading a Fast Company article about disrupting “business as usual” even when you think you have a great model that is working well (Blockbuster and Polaroid were the two big examples here).  I was thinking that the reason most companies don’t do this is how scary that change can be.  If your numbers look good you have no incentive to change.  But both Blockbuster and Polaroid have fallen with that kind of thinking.

These are two very different aspects of change – one is about understanding the scope of the change and the other is about understanding the implications of change (or not changing, as the case may be).  So how do you manage these two huge aspects of change?  I feel like your best bet is examples and past history.  Let me explain what I mean.

Examples help people visualize similar scenarios and bring them to life.  It is one thing to say, this change will be big and difficult.  It is a different thing entirely to say that a company like yours went through the same thing and this is what they experienced.  People are just more likely to “get it” when there is a concrete example.  They will also see that there is a way to navigate through the change so they are inspired not to give up when the going gets tough.

But there are also times when you need to use a little fear to inspire change.  And that is where past history comes into play.  When you bring up the example, as Fast Company did, of Blockbuster in 2002 when they were doing fantastic and compare that to their recent woes, it is easy to see that getting too comfortable was the wrong thing to do.  It inspires a little fear with becoming too fat and happy in your market position.  People start to think it could happen to them and voila – motivation!

So next time you need to inspire a little change and help your team navigate through it (say, when you are setting up your new marketing infrastructure for demand generation), see if you can’t find some good examples and past history to help you through.