I have worked for many years in organizations in transformation, change management, and innovation. In every book, course, or business, I always heard, ‘Change has to come from the top.’ THE CEOs, MANAGEMENT, BOARD etc
Everybody is looking to the leadership to implement and enforce change.
But change has to come from the heart.
This is the place in every human being where change happens. If change doesn’t reach the heart, it doesn’t stick.
Change happens because someone gets an idea or vision of a better world, becomes passionate about it, and takes the first step. And because passion is contagious, they infect others with it, and then they build up together step-by-step.
Why is that important?
Think about when and how we make decisions. We like to avoid uncertainty and risk as much as possible. Isn’t that why we look to leadership for approval and support?
Why, then, do we expect the CEO or top management to support something they don’t know will work? Why do we ask them to take the risk of moving the whole ship in a certain direction because someone says it will work?
It’s the same when people come to us. They have a great idea, but how do we know if it will work? How do we know that the people proposing those ideas will deliver?
Because the top management or CEO are not the ones who will deliver, even if they give their approval.
The people who come up with the idea for change and transition will be responsible for delivering.
The CEO is accountable, not responsible.
So there are a few steps we recommend people do before approaching the top management or investors with an idea:
Create proof that it will work and that you can deliver. Infect the people around you with your passion and enthusiasm so that they want to help and deliver the change, too.
This is also how venture capital works. Investors don’t want to gamble in unproven ideas. They want to see proof of concept, proof of delivery capacity, and evidence that other people are enthusiastic about the project and want to move it forward and make it happen.
So, you have to come with the proof that it is going to work.
If you’re asking for a lot of money, people will ask a lot of questions, all trying to answer the question: will it work? Often, we ask someone else to invest the money we would not invest ourselves. You don’t need a big budget to create change. You don’t need a huge budget to generate an early proof.
I’m the living example.
When I was trying to implement design thinking within the organization I worked for, everyone told me it would not work because the change had to come from the top. But I am a little rebel, so I decided stubbornly, with passion, and from the heart, to do my workshop with my team.
The first workshop I did was with my coworkers.
“My manager laughed at me because he had expected a different kind of workshop. He had a different vision for the project.”
That opened my eyes to the fact other people didn’t understand what I was saying and what I wanted to do.
“I needed to dive deeper and understand his needs to figure out how I could still deliver the change I wanted to see while considering his needs. “
So, I asked him for his trust and time to work it out.
I felt as though those workshops were a failure, so I started to question what else and how else I could deliver. I started adding bits and pieces of content here and there, changing the exercises and delivery. I started speaking and doing exercises and workshops for the teams within my office, speaking in company events, going into projects to train them, and then building projects.
People started to come and ask me more about the topic and if I could do more training and speeches for them. I became known inside the company as someone who was spreading innovation.
I have since run around a thousand workshops from that workshop, delivering the same information to the managing directors.
“The content and steps were the same. How I shared and spoke to them and guided them through the steps had changed.”
I created my job within the company, built my team, and pretty soon, I ran the executive leadership program for one of the most powerful companies in the world.
So it’s possible.
But before you go before the CEO and leadership and ask for the investment or support, create the proof. Because it’s not those people who will be responsible for making it happen, it’s the people who come up with the change.
This is why:
“Change has to come from the heart. Not from the top.
The top takes accountability for it, but the responsibility rests in the heart of the people coming up with the changes.
If you give away the Steering Wheel of the changes in your own life, you give away your life. Don’t wait for the approval and permission.