Communicating change, including mine

The Mercedes-Benz automobile museum in Stuttgart features a horse statue with a quote attributed to Wilhelm II, Germany’s last emperor: “I do believe in the horse. The automobile is no more than a transitory phenomenon.” Daimler’s mocking of past resistance to change and ignorance of innovation now seems slightly ironic, given its current struggle to adjust to an industry moving towards electric vehicles.  

The renowned car manufacturer is far from alone with its challenges. Across most industries, yesterday’s innovation all-stars may become tomorrow’s left-behind losers if they ignore the signs for too long and don’t evolve fast enough. We are experiencing a time where change is all around us. As a result, a global, multi-billion-dollar industry around digital transformation and change management has developed. Consulting firms, technology vendors and other organizations have created methodologies and best practices on how to manage change.  

But when it comes to communicating transformational change effectively, we’re only getting started. More often than not, communication is treated as an afterthought, which leads to a high failure rate. I want to change that.

That’s why, four years after co-founding and co-leading creative content agency Big Red Oak, I am going back to being an independent consultant. 

A big thank you to the Big Red Oak team, our clients and our partners. It’s been amazing to see clients embrace visual communications and cross-media storytelling as a new approach to marketing, PR, and sales enablement. It’s a privilege and a joy to work with so many talented creatives – in-house and as part of our network – from videographers and motion graphics artists to designers, art directors, writers, and strategists. With a newly expanded leadership team, Big Red Oak will continue to thrive. And I will still be around to support some Big Red Oak projects with strategy consulting as a member of the extended network. 

Here are a few things I am doing in the coming months.

  • I am working on my business plan and new website focused on change communications and will be looking for clients with transformational projects that need help with communicating and marketing change, or related consulting and strategic planning. More details on approach and offering will follow.
  • I will still do some other marketing and communications consulting. This includes creating strategic marketing and communications plans for clients, helping them with thought leadership, positioning and executive communications, and providing training workshops.
  • Finally, I’ve started to write a short ebook on change communications to share my perspective with people who are involved in digital transformation and other change initiatives. Many digital transformation articles quote McKinsey’s research stating that 70% of complex, large-scale change programs fail. Underneath all the management issues, though, I see a plethora of unaddressed communications challenges. Without strategic communications at the core, transformational change is doomed to fail or, at best, limping along. If you are interested in reading the ebook, check back on my profile in about a month. Or send me a message if you’d like to be alerted. 

While the specialization is new for me, I have gone through transformational change at work and always been an early adopter and champion of social/digital technologies for marketing and communications (full confession: yes, I have also spent an irrational amount of time finding workarounds for “transformational technologies” I hated using). I have planned the communication of different types of change and led transformational change myself. It just never was my business focus. Now it will be.  

Article on LinkedIn | Image by Timo Christ on Alamy Stock Photo