Friday 20 November 2015

Successful Change Requires Shared Ownership. Just Ask Gary Numan

Gary Numan is best known for his 1983 hit song, Cars. In the late 1970s, he pioneered an electronic 'New Wave' sound that dominated the airwaves a few years later. 

Since then he has released 18 new albums and continues to play concerts around the world.

This week a friend sent me a link to a crowdfunding site for Gary's new album. I was intrigued about why he chose this route since his last one, Splinter, had been critically and financially successful.

Gary explained that "with my new album I want you to be a witness to the entire process, from the very first note played, through every up and down as the days unfold...some days will be good, ideas will flow easily and I will be happy and excited. Other days will be awful, and I will be miserable...but this is the process."

I immediately signed up for the all-access package including a signed extended CD at the end of the experience. Supporting an artist I like and respect and getting an insider's view of how he creates music is an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

As I started receiving daily updates, I realized that this opportunity was much more than watching an artist create; it was an interactive endeavour where I was participating in the process. Today's post asked 'pledgers' to submit questions about the new album. I leapt into action hoping Gary would select my question to answer as part of a future Q&A post. I felt like I could be an input to his creative process. I thought hard about my question as if it mattered. 

So what does this have to do with change management? Let's say that Gary is a business leader who is responsible for a change. He says to the people who must implement the change that he wants them to be a witness to the entire process. From the very first step, through to the successful completion they will see all of it. Some days will be good where we make progress and some will will not where we will get stuck, but this is the process. 

Next, Gary provides daily updates on progress, sharing all the good and bad details. Then he asks them for their questions along with their names and where they are from. People do so eagerly, wanting to move their change forward. 

Gary, the business leader, has shared ownership of the change with his team and has engaged them in the process of changing, which has greatly increased the probability of its successful.

Sharing ownership of change is an essential success factor. To do so well you need to be:
  • Personally committed to the project  you still must be the most committed to the change of all contributors
  • Humble  you don't know all of the answers and you are keen to learn
  • Open to input  the best way forward is chosen regardless of who suggests it
  • Transparent about progress  especially when things aren't going well
  • Highly communicative  provide many updates and opportunities to share feedback
  • Generous with recognition  you couldn't have done it without people's excellent contributions
Close to 100 people had posted questions to Gary's pledge site within a few hours. I think the lesson for us all is how to create a following for the changes we are responsible for making in our personal and professional lives.

Perhaps it's a blend of our visible passion, commitment and ability to create something new with the opportunity to be an active contributor who is also responsible for the successful outcome. 

One thing is for sure: I believe I am a part of Gary's album experience. And as a part owner, I am all in.  


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