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In Change Management, Context Is Everything

Posted Tuesday, October 13th, 2015



noun: context; the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.


Context is the key to understanding.

Money is just paper and coins until you understand the concepts of currency, value and purchasing power.   Music is just noise unless you place it within the framework of melody, harmony and rhythm.

What if a waiter in an Italian restaurant brought you a fortune cookie after your meal? Would you understand why? Would you be able to figure it out based on the circumstances and surroundings? No. The fortune cookie is out of context.

Context is everything in change management. Stakeholders need to understand why they are being asked to change, how new behaviours will differ from past behaviours and why this change is important to the organization overall. How do you communicate such critical information?

You write it. You write the Sponsor messages and updates. After listening to impacted employees, you write the Q & A. You write about how this initiative fulfills the organization’s mission and why it is important for customers. You translate ‘corporate speak’ into concise memorable phrases. You relate the training materials to the employees’ workplace and particular circumstances.   By creating these written materials, you determine whom you are writing for, who the audience is, what the critical messages are and how they should be communicated.

In other words, you control the context. And context is everything.

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