We are igniting momentum during COVID-19

Mobilising your business: 10 things we learnt about getting people on a mission.


1. Happy is over-rated (at the start)

If you want people to mobilise, you’ll need to convince them there is a threat in maintaining the status quo. If you’ve done this well, they will probably experience fear, doubt, anger and/or grief at some point. Remember, nobody wants a leader to sugar-coat messages. Be genuine about the challenges, and commit personally to leading your teams through them.

2. Create an innovation imperative

A clear purpose that people can relate to on a human level is a not-so-secret weapon in the battle to mobilise. But keep in mind also a great purpose should be unattainable, instilling the kind of ambition that will inspire as well as stretch people’s thinking.

3. Mobilise the masses

Events are an invaluable way to ignite deep commitment in a core group of leaders, but they must be part of an overall momentum plan to connect people everywhere to the purpose and commercial strategy. Enlist line managers to continue the conversation in the day to day, and help people at all levels understand what the change means for their work.

4. Goodbye and good luck

As you successfully mobilise for change the business will (hopefully) no longer be the same place that people joined, some will be thrilled, others won’t. A level of attrition is not only inevitable but necessary and a sign you’re doing something right. Be transparent about the people you want to keep and why, and respectfully help others go their own way.

5. (Real) Power to the people

True mobilisation requires leaders to cede some real control. This can be uncomfortable and results aren’t always predictable, but start small. Pilots are a useful way for leaders to gradually gain comfort in parting with elements of their authority (and can usually be pulled off more quickly and easily than big bang initiatives).

6. BAU is dead, long live BAU

So you’ve mobilised, but BAU is still just as demanding as ever leaving already busy people overwhelmed by what they see as ‘more work’. Position new behaviours as ‘how to do BAU’ to show that Change and BAU aren’t competing priorities. Keep messages and asks ‘bite sized’ so that everybody can easily put them to work. And coach actively around how people can spread across more work and actively build personal capacity.

7. Safety first

Social technology has huge mobilisation potential, but just because people are familiar and know how to use it in their personal lives doesn’t mean they will do so at work. Leaders need to create a safe space for people to genuinely participate by taking some risks themselves. Don’t be afraid to funnel some difficult conversation topics onto these platforms, this will signal you’re willing to engage for real and entice people to logon.

8. A little to the left

Frequent and habitual moments of self-reflection encourage people to make constant, micro-adjustments to their behaviours, driving both individual growth and business progress. Having the feedback-ee (rather than the feedback-er) lead the conversation will change the tone from defensive and high stakes to positive and incremental.

9. Lead like a parrot

It can sometimes feel to leaders that they have been parroting the same message for months, years even. But it will take that long for the message to penetrate into all corners of your organisation. Just because you’re bored of talking about something don’t assume others have really internalised it and are ready to go execute.

10. Last, create a system

People often jump from mobilisation to ‘embed and sustain mode’ too quickly. Think of building a self-sustaining system as laying down pipes, while commitment and belief are the gas you need to pump through. Are you sure you’ve created the energy you need to properly fuel your transformation?