John Kotter – granddaddy of change – tells us that one of the key steps in successful change is providing a compelling vision of the change. But how do we do that as leaders? 

Here are some thoughts on making your vision compelling for those you need to get on board: 

Focus on the Road Ahead not Just the Destination 

Many leaders create bold and inspiring vision statements when starting to communicate about a change initiative. What gets missed is the description of the road to get there. Get people to think ahead to what the change journey is going to be like. It better equips them to deal with the change as it’s actually happening.

Be realistic about that journey. It will not be unicorns and rainbows! Acknowledge the road will have twists, turns and many bumps along the way. Click the below for a description we use of that journey: 

Appeal to the Senses  

We use the metaphor of three “lenses” to consider when painting a full picture of the change journey. 

Feel  – This is the emotional aspect. 

  • How do we “feel” about the organization? 
  • Are we feeling excited, anxious, energized, apathetic, hopeful, weary? 

See/ Do – This is what we see happening around us and what people (and ourselves) are actually doing 

  • Are there a lot of closed-door meetings all of a sudden? 
  • Has there been a recent rash of turnover? 
  • Are new incentives/ rewards being introduced? 
  • Are there a lot of water cooler discussions happening? 
  • Are there regular town hall update meetings happening? 
  • Am I getting new duties?

Hear/ Say – This is the information that we are getting both formally and informally 

  • What email updates are coming my way now? 
  • Is there a tone of excitement and energy in the conversations I am part of or are they anxious and cynical? 
  • Is there more information flowing my way or have things gone dark all of a sudden?

It’s About Them not You 

Engage stakeholders to create their own description of each stage of the change using the three lenses above. Having them create a personalized and more complete description of their journey of the change will help them deal with the change more effectively. 


Keep the rumor mill under control as much as possible by using these three guidelines. Shape your communications strategies and tactics based on style and stage!