G20 in London: We need The Case for Change…

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LONDON — We teach change management. We teach whole businesses, programmes, leaders and communicators. And usually people can understand it quite quickly. But that starts with realising what they didn’t know… or hadn’t planned for.

In a February 2007 Harvard Business Review article John Kotter wrote:

In every successful transformation effort that I have seen, the guiding coalition develops a picture of the future that is relatively easy to communicate and appeals to customers, stockholders, and employees.

That will be the biggest requirement of this Thursday’s G20 summit in London. It’s not so easily done. But maybe one of the biggest mistakes that political animals make is calling this a ‘sound-bite’ rather than a Case for Change.

On Friday 20 world leaders will return to their countries and take to the airwaves to explain The Case for Change. Each will put it into their own logic. Each will explain the sequence slightly differently… and they will need to. Because each leader exists in a different reality.

So, sound-bites won’t stand up. But argument will. And those arguments will need to include international/ global realities. So that makes The Case for Change even harder. It needs to have enough local and global content to withstand attacks in all markets.

The effort to get everyone together is a really symbolically important one. In 1933 FDR didn’t bother coming to a London global economic summit, and the global recession got worse. This time President Obama will be there with all the others: Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel, Taro Aso, Nicholas Sarkozy, Romano Prodi, Kgalema Motlanthe, Hu Jintao, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and friends. It will be ‘all hands on deck’. But that also raises the stakes. An inability to communicate the basic agreement will undermine the G20’s credibility. Their perceived power will be collectively weakened.

And that will cost us all.

Make sure The Case for Change is well prepared.

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