Change Leaders, Do This When You’re Struggling To Get People On Board With Your Ideas

career change makers company culture leadership leading change strategy transformation May 28, 2020
orange leaves floating on blue water
As a change leader, it’s annoying when other people don’t see the world as you do. You constantly feel you’re several steps ahead and desperately want the stragglers to catch up with your vision. Follow my 4-step framework to get everyone on board with your ideas (and avoid looking like a know-it-all in the process).


As a change and transformation consultant, this is the scenario I’m seeing everywhere at the moment:

Everyone in your organisation knows there is a new normal, but no one can agree on the vision of what it will be. 

Some people want the old ways amended very slightly to fit into the new context.

Others want a totally new approach to doing business. 

If you’re in the second camp, keep reading.

I know that you see new opportunities everywhere. 

You’re a radical with a big vision. While everyone else is talking about continuous improvement,  you’re more interested in a step-change transformation. 

You have a million ideas for how to navigate your organisation out of the crisis, but it’s impossible to get everyone on board.

Before you lose hope, having spent more than 17 years leading multi-million-pound transformational change programmes in some of the UK’s biggest companies, I know exactly how to make big change happen - and not look like a know-it-all in the process.

Here’s my proven 4-step framework for getting everyone on board with big organisational change:


owl winking


1. Don’t tell people you have the solution (even if you do)

First of all, you need to understand this simple truth: No matter how great your idea is, no one wants to hear it. What people really want is to come up with their own solution. It’s counter-intuitive, but the reality is that it’s not your solution but their solution that’s needed. 

Yes, maybe your idea is genius and will almost certainly work. But if you go into a meeting with an already sketched out solution, you become the know-it-all and people stop listening.

People don’t want you to fix their problems; if they fix the problems themselves, they feel bigger, more important and are more likely to commit to the path ahead - no matter how challenging.

Instead of telling everyone your brilliant solution, put in place the best incubator for ideas you can, and create the conditions for ideas as big as yours to flourish.


2. Create the container for them to come up with the right solution 

You don’t get people to think bigger by telling them to think bigger. You do it by providing a container in which they are given space to think bigger. You do it by creating the conditions for a diverse scope of possibilities to exist.

If you want new and bold solutions, don’t put the same people as always in the decision-making room; you need diverse points of view to come up with something innovative. Ensure you have people from across your organisation in the conversation, as well as people with different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders and sexualities. 

Bring in your specialists and people with expertise who usually get locked out of big conversations because they're not on the same page as everyone else. When you're trying to create a big transformation, you need different influences in the container - your job is to invite them in.


rainbow with landscape


3. Don't assume they’ll come up with the same solution you did

So now you have a container in which there is a diversity of people ready to come up with a solution. 

Your job now is not to lead them to your solution, but to encourage them to take the first step towards thinking differently. 

Yes, you may be a mile ahead, but if you can expand their ways of thinking then you’re going in the right direction. Taking one step in the right direction is better than ten in the wrong one. 

All the time you’ll be thinking “wouldn't it be easier if I gave them the answer?” No! When you’re the person with the answer all the time, you remove other people’s obligation to think. It’s much more valuable to create a group of people who are all invested in going the right way, than to spend time convincing them of your rightness.

A word of warning: don’t expect to come up with a big, pioneering, radical idea in your first co-creation session. It takes time and creativity for others to see the pieces of the big picture that you may have seen all along. There is no magic formula that says it’ll take two, three or four sessions, so only stop when the people around you have come up with an idea as big as yours.


4. Let go of your solution and embrace the best solution

Lastly, let go of your idea and jump into their (probably better) idea. Accept that it was never about your idea but about discovering the best possible solution to your organisation’s problem.

The power of the collective is always better than the individual. So if you want to get people on board with your big vision, create the conditions for the collective to think as big as you do.

Now you've got your big idea, it's time to learn how to implement it. Jump on the wait list for my brand new training: The Change Maker Academy is not another online course. It is a 100% supported programme of insight, development, education and feedback. It will give you everything you need to become one of the Change Makers of tomorrow

About Us

Oakwood is a Transformational Change Consultancy that works with mid-sized + companies, local authorities and individuals who are on a mission to create successful, sustainable and self-sufficient change. With our proprietary, comprehensive and proven 5i Framework and our collection of tools and processes, we have a higher record than most at creating the result you desire, without it being all about us … because your success isn’t about us, we’re here to support, guide and empower the change YOU make. 

With our unique Matrix Method we can see things that others can’t, no matter how complicated the problem, it can be analysed and simplified into a system you will understand, and our enviable network of experts means that no problem is too big or too difficult to find a solution for. 

Our experience spans private, public, local and global which means we understand the inner workings of change in each environment, without losing the feeling of real relationships - we truly have a global reach with a local feel. 

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