Embracing The Journey of Change With Lisa Cunningham

When everything changes what stays constant?

We live in a world where the world is rapidly changing. Technology becomes obselete. We are continually changing.

Lisa Cunningham Delauney has been exploring change for decades.

An early proponent of Change Management professionally. She has also experienced change personally. Living in nine countries and speaking six languages.

While many of us grumble and resist change, Lisa has run full pelt into change and embraced the journey.

In our conversation she explained the difficulty in making change happen. The barriers and resistance. And the importance of communication in bringing people along on the journey.



Lisa: Change Catalyst is the label I’ve given myself on social media really, to try to explain. And I think sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s to try to explain about change management.

Lisa: Which when I started doing it in the 1990s in Ernst and Young was quite new. I think it was, invented or thought about written about a bit before that, but essentially people still can struggle. It’s much better known now. But what do you actually do with change management?

Lisa: I’m not talking about change technical change management with computers and making a small change and then recording that. I’m talking about people. So how do you help people to navigate through change, either to make change, if they have that power to design it. and to deliver it, or if they’re on the receiving end, how to handle that, and ideally talk to, both parties, and there’s usually more than two, of course, several stakeholders involved so that the change, [00:01:00] whatever it is, let’s say a new computer system, a new process for making something or some new paperwork even, or cultural change, whatever it is, people feel part of it, understand why it’s happening, see how it relates to what they’re doing.

Lisa: And not everyone is going to be over the moon about it. There’s typically about a small minority who are going to be jumping for joy because they’ve been waiting for this new system or to modernize. anD then there’ll be a few people who are really dead set against it. And then most people are in the middle thinking what’s it actually going to mean to me?

Lisa: Do I need to know about this? And what am I going to do? So that’s the change management. Now, I started off in research using my languages, because I love to learn languages. I’ve lived in I think nine countries now, learned six languages, to different varying levels of fluency role, so not fluent in all of them, but I love to learn languages as part of getting to know.

Lisa: So my way [00:02:00] into change was through culture, really, and it continues to be an interest because we have So many people with different backgrounds, international teams are a norm now, especially if you’re working online and influences, even if you’re all from the same country, you always have different elements of culture anyway.

Lisa: Typically, one person is a mixture of about 15 cultures that they are either born into or choose. 

Rob: That’s an interesting statistic. So where does that come from? 

Lisa: That one is from some research, which I can send you the link. It’s a guy called Sabato who is doing work, a lot of interesting work on culture.

Lisa: And I agree with his research or his theory that, it’s about 15 different ones. Each person has your national culture. cultures from your family, from the organization you’re in, maybe your school, whether you play football and so on, and you will make an amalgam of those depending on what you have to do to survive and what [00:03:00] you choose because you like it.

Lisa: And most of the time we’re pretending to fit in with any culture. So that’s why it’s interesting that you can use pointers around national culture and what’s more typical. to help you in an international team, for example, but you can’t assume anything because everyone is a different mixture, particularly now it’s more and more the global world means you have lots of different cultural influences.

Lisa: So it’s best, and you probably do this with teams, Rob, is to make your own culture. make your own norms and what everybody is comfortable with for what you need to do. 

Rob: So many questions to ask. So you said 1990s you 

Lisa: started. With yeah, with change management and working mainly with big companies. Through a big consultancy, so I’ll be part of a big team, just the person working with the people element and also process, connecting to the process and the technology side of things.

Lisa: I did that for about [00:04:00] 10 years. Working in different sectors in government as well, and a little bit in Europe. And then I went freelance, I went to Cambodia for eight years and did some consultancy there, which I thought is going to be completely different. Of course it was, because, it’s a completely different country, a developing country with a very tumultuous past, completely different culture, but nevertheless, It’s almost like a huge change project because there’s so many NGOs there and the whole country now I’m not sure of the statistic, but when I was there, it was a huge proportion of people were under 25 and quite ambitious and would be learning in English and Being entrepreneurial.

Lisa: So it was a very exciting time. And I worked with lots of smaller and micro and SMEs there, and particularly focusing on women in business. so That was something different. And concurrently I ran a small [00:05:00] business in fashion design. That was interesting to be an entrepreneur there as well and working in the sector of so the fair trade social element of ESG and sustainability.

Lisa: I tried to get the fabrics which were without dyes and which were produced naturally, locally, and paying people a fair wage to do the work as well. So that was quite a good learning experience. Now in the last ten years I’ve been in Europe, but in Eastern Europe, Serbia, now Slovenia and I’ve been mainly working with in my family business, which is media, and I’m the consultant and back office research person there, as well as doing some smaller projects change.

Lisa: But since the pandemic, this has been my time when I thought let’s go back into more change stuff. try it digitally. Prior to last year, I hadn’t really been on [00:06:00] LinkedIn actively. I think I’d been registered since 2009. It was only last year I started to build up a network and find out what’s going on digitally.

Rob: Yes, it’s similar for me. LinkedIn I don’t think was used as much and it seems to have become popular recently because a lot of people seem to have been this last year. 

Lisa: Yeah, that’s right. Certainly when I put my sort of CB on there in 2009 there wasn’t much going on, but then I didn’t really follow it.

Lisa: Although a couple of my friends said, oh you should go on, there’s some interesting stuff, yeah, it has been quite an interesting journey, just building that up and learning how it works.

Rob: So what I’m interested in is changes, obviously something changes like a core part of you or your values or where does that come from? 

Lisa: Yeah, I’ve thought about that and I think it was always I’m not sure, but it was always my dream to find out more about different cultures and to travel.

Lisa: I was very happy where I grew up in the Northeast of England and I’m a lot of what one of some of my other cultures [00:07:00] around sustainability in nature come from growing up in a town, but right next to the woods and. Spending a lot of time drawing the woods or flowers and things and observing nature.

Lisa: For the change, yeah, it came gradually I suppose, but I like variety. I love languages and I love different cultures. So initially I’ve written before as well in medium where I write sometimes longer pieces about initially finding it hard to leave home. But then now I’ve lived in the UK for 20 years.

Lisa: So it’s one of those things. I think maybe we had a small discussion about that online. Actually going after something which is a bit scary. I think there’s a part of that, a challenge to doing something which makes me uncomfortable as well. And it’s why I like working with people with change because I do, everyone does, but I really understand how hard change is as well because I’ve had so much of it and it hasn’t even if you choose it yourself, it isn’t always, [00:08:00] it is never easy.

Lisa: There’s always some loss. There’s always something that you didn’t Anticipate and that could be good as well. But yeah, the uncomfortable as well as interesting. 

Rob: So because you display a lot of your art and you share your art on LinkedIn. So was it observing nature where you notice the change? 

Lisa: Yeah, yeah, the changing of the seasons and changes like that could be also part of it. It’s something I’ve thought about, but I haven’t necessarily got to the bottom of.

Lisa: waNting to explore the world, wanting to know what your environment is no matter where you are, maybe it’s something to do with that, finding things in common wherever you are, but also difference and richness. 

Rob: It’s a lot about culture and it’s a lot about, it’s changing environment, changing And what stays true throughout the change?

Lisa: Yeah. It’s the values that don’t really change the beliefs to mostly as well, although you can change your belief if you have new [00:09:00] information or so, but the values, I think, are something that stay the same wherever you are and also as well. I Found like when I went to Cambodia, some things, yes, totally different on the outside, but you can always connect to those.

Lisa: Yeah, I think that the importance of change is also the understanding what doesn’t change or what you don’t want to change or you can’t change. 

Rob: So you also mentioned about how hard it is for people to change. so One of the things I’ve noticed is that I think how universal the change curve is.

Rob: Like Kubler Ross is. When you start a change what’s your initial thoughts? How clearly do you see the process and how much is just the next step you can see?

Lisa: I think, there are models like with anything, and there are a few models, and I think the change can be very useful, but I always use it carefully because, as it was developed about grief for, a specific reason.

Lisa: And I think you have to be sensitive in how you use it about, for [00:10:00] example, trying a new system at work, a new computer system, but still some of the, at a macro level, some of the steps are, and not steps because it’s not linear, but some of the stages are the same. So I think it’s more useful to have in the back of your mind or to have a conversation.

Lisa: Someone about it who’s wondering why the heck typically a leader thinking we’ve got the answer, we’ve paid for it, we’re putting it in. Why is nobody using it? Or why are half the people using it? Half of them not? Or pretending they’re using it. They’re not. And then that’s the time to talk about it. Say this is because, this is the typical way that the people will react to any change.

Lisa: And, any people in your team could be on any stage of this experience or be going backwards or forwards, so I think it’s how you apply it, but I certainly wouldn’t be going in and saying this is what we’re doing, this is what you’ll be feeling next week. Because also it’s that it depends on who is involved.

Lisa: So every single time you could have, I haven’t done this, [00:11:00] but you could have the same system put in, for the same reasons into different organisations. It would be totally different, of course, because the people are different, because they have different expectations, a different history.

Lisa: so It’s really about getting to know the people talking and listening, really talking a little bit and listening more about. Why are you doing this change? What are you hoping to get out of it? What else is going on at the moment? Is there too much on people’s plates to even think about it?

Lisa: And yeah, and then looking at the various stakeholders. You can’t do individual by individual. You can do groups, and in some cases you do need to, depending on the size of the company, look at individuals. And try to understand where they’re coming from and how they’re going to react, potentially. But then, of course, you have to make a plan, go for it, and then change as you go along.

Lisa: Because if the person themselves doesn’t know how they’re going to react to change, how the heck do you know how they’re going to react? They, you can’t, and that’s another sort of thing about change, [00:12:00] it’s the success. It’s really tricky one because how do you know when you’ve achieved success because it’s very hard to measure you can say I want 95 percent of people to, be using this computer system every day with.

Lisa: Very few mistakes or something, but a lot of it is more intangible. 

Rob: So what do you see as the biggest barriers when you’re like when you begin a change project? So obviously you have a plan and you’ve planned out and you have the models and that, but then when reality hits. What do you see, what is the most, so I always try and look from the situation to the principles and what is the most universal responses that you see or barriers or problems.

Lisa: I think one, the biggest barrier is just underestimating the impact of change and that can be before you’ve even got a plan because quite a lot of time, the time people don’t. Either don’t put any, they normally put some communication and some training. But not, they don’t think of a [00:13:00] holistic change management approach whereby, involving people, not just asking or telling a little bit, but actually involving people and putting that into giving time and space and risk for people to be able to test things and to work things out together. So the biggest barrier is just underestimating that and either not putting anything in or doing a little bit and then being surprised. bEcause, even very small changes can disrupt a lot. So I think it’s the underestimating.

Lisa: And then if you haven’t got the values and the strategy, first. If you haven’t got the sponsorship really at the top level, very difficult, then, reassure people or let people work things out and roll it out. So the sponsorship and maybe being in it for a long enough term. So typically, a change which has any significance will probably, unless it’s extremely small, it’ll probably take three to five years to embed properly. By that time you can imagine most leadership teams [00:14:00] have got other things going on lines. There’s so much change. So you really have to commit at the beginning and say, I know why I’m doing this. I know why it’s important.

Lisa: We’re going to commit to the end, whatever that looks like. 

Rob: There’s a statistic going around that 70 percent of change and there doesn’t seem to be a clear basis for 

Lisa: it. There isn’t. That’s one of the ones in change management people. Full disclosure when I started, I, I had put that on the slide as well because, it’s part of the sales process really.

Lisa: In a way, there’s a grain of truth that there’s no substantiation for that, somebody pulled it out of there. I think it might, no, I’m not going to say which consortium, but no, there isn’t really a scientific basis and this is where it comes back. The most interesting thing is going back to what is the success look like?

Lisa: You can’t say how many have been a success or not because it’s so subjective for most people. Some people are probably, I could say is with a major change, some people are going to leave. Some people will be really cheesed off and they’re going to. do the minimum, or they’re going to leave.

Lisa: If you were focused on that, you’d [00:15:00] say this is a failure or, the system has been put in, but we didn’t get the benefits we’re expecting. You really have to try to define it first. And I think that’s one of the most difficult things is all the dimensions, not just the ones that you can put numbers on.

Lisa: And then you have to say, this is the big change program. It’s going to affect lots of people. It’s probably going to affect the culture in a lot of ways. We should be aiming for this kind of, variance or something. This range to be happy with. It’s good enough.

Lisa: With most change, it’s never going to be perfect. It’s like communication. You’d say, oh, that wasn’t perfect because not everybody understood it, not everybody did it. It’s human nature. So I think, yes, you shouldn’t just say, oh let’s try and see what happens and it’ll be a success, whatever.

Lisa: No, try to define it, but know success factors are very difficult to pin down and to try and do it across all dimensions. I think, You have to use hard and soft data, and you have to be quite [00:16:00] nuanced about how you judge whether it’s a success or not, and I definitely would not quote that that number.

Lisa: And I don’t think that’s right anyway. I think, partial success anyway is, it depends how partial it is, doesn’t it? Yeah. You’re talking about anything to do with people, how you say, oh yes, it’s a perfect person. This person is perfectly happy with everything at work. I don’t know if I’ve ever met that person Rob, 

Rob: There’s a book. Something about founders. And so eBay started as something completely different. PayPal started as something completely different. Most businesses started as one thing, but as you get into the process. It clarifies what you really want, what you, where you can bring back value.

Rob: And so most businesses do pivot. So it makes sense that change would pivot through the journey because when you start, you don’t really know. 

Lisa: Yeah, it’s a creative process. You’re creating change on you. And in another way. Sometimes I ponder this, is change management, should it be, it should be part of business as usual, really.

Lisa: It’s it’s project management, but it’s [00:17:00] really focusing on the people in the intersection with the technology and the process. bUt there are some methods and there are some, very specific areas that you need to cover within that. So would you say 

Rob: the biggest problem is the people within the within the change as in the sponsor the people actually having to do the change?

Rob: So when I think about change, I think it’s probably mostly either people don’t accept it, or like you say, the changing goals. But these are all kind of human elements, 

Lisa: where it’s Yeah, change management is all, yeah, it’s all focused on people, but not people in isolation of anything else.

Lisa: And it’s related to HR because, of course, HR is human resources, but it’s much more sort of the people interacting with the technology and the process. So normally when I’m doing some change, I’m not a techie person, but I love, the options that they, that can bring up. And I would work with someone hopefully who knows what they’re doing to do that.

Lisa: And then, to work out how people feel about that. But with the process, I think it should [00:18:00] always be hand in hand with it. And that’s how you test the change. You’re going to test the technology and you need to do that quite specifically, but also the process. I would always advocate saying to people this is a new system or new process.

Lisa: Let’s walk through it and find out what you’re doing. what this department does, how you hand off to people, because there’s two reasons for that. One is for the change, so that you can actually highlight where it’s going to change, and what’s good about it, and what might be, a bit uncomfortable, and you can highlight that.

Lisa: But also, because a lot of companies, they’ve grown organically, maybe from very small, even to a medium size, but particularly for larger ones without people actually seeing necessarily how they fit into the bigger picture, not in granular terms. Generally, yes, I know I’m working in the finance department and I have to organize this, but it’s quite powerful when people, especially in a larger organization can see exactly how they fit in exactly what they do.

Lisa: Typically people go why are you doing [00:19:00] that? Because I’m doing that as well. This needs it all. Who’s doing this? Nobody’s doing that. This is really empowering as well. It could be annoying, but it’s really empowering because then you’re, the experts really are working out.

Rob: I think it’s so sad that so many people don’t really connect what they do and the value that it has. Yeah, 

Lisa: and that, that can give you a lot of meaning, doesn’t it? That’s how you get meaning at work. No matter what you’re doing, if you can see how it connects, and what it brings to the customer at the end, or what it does for the world, or, any number of things, you’re going to feel a lot.

Lisa: More engaged, for sure, than if you’re thinking I’ll just keep my head down and turn the handle yeah. Yeah. I think that at least for most people. 

Rob: Yeah, it must be just so frustrating. So I can see a clear commonality in that I started my kind of journey in 1993. I had a gym and I trained in nutrition and I thought if I give people diet plans and I train, this is [00:20:00] it, they want a change.

Rob: And I got frustrated because people would join the gym for three months and leave. And I was like, why? Why can’t people stick? So 1994 was when I began that journey, which was a question of what does it take for people to stick to their routines? And it’s led through happiness, stress relationships, conflict, teams.

Rob: I can recognize how difficult change is because willpower is a limited, it’s a finite resource. aNd when we’re asking someone to make a change, we’re asking them to use up that finite resource on this thing, which means that. All of the other things like whether they want to lose weight, or whether they want to give up smoking, or whatever they want to do.

Rob: We’re asking them to put that on hold. And people typically find it difficult just to focus their resources on losing weight, giving up smoking, or anything like that. let alone something for someone else to [00:21:00] learn this new process. And one of the things about when someone is going through, when they are using up that willpower in a conscious change, so like they give up smoking or going to the gym or whatever, what it means is that they have less willpower and resources to restrain themselves.

Rob: So there tend to be more outbursts because normally they would use that willpower to this person’s been an idiot but when they don’t have it, so do you tend to see more conflict during that change process where people are? 

Lisa: Yes. Yeah. And I think you’ve put your finger on a lot of that.

Lisa: It’s typically I say change just takes a lot of energy, a lot of time and a lot of energy from everyone really, but depending on your role, how much, but it does. So that’s hence why you need. To know why you’re doing it and you need the sponsorships to see it through to the end and the leadership to show that they’re making sacrifices as much as you’re going to do it.

Lisa: That’s a good point. [00:22:00] You need that energy. But yeah the conflict thing really kicks in because of so many elements, but aside from this energy. You’ve also got communication. Has the change being agreed by everyone at the top and by people representing different parts of the business, is it fully understood by everyone?

Lisa: Even if you communicate something to someone, you think it’s clear that they. take something else from it, or they don’t understand what you mean because they don’t have your context. So it’s incredibly difficult to get the communication right. Then you have the relationships anyway, people with, the politics, people their motivation is to be head of this department, somebody else wants to as well.

Lisa: So then the change becomes something which you can potentially make. If it fails because so and so is ahead of it, then maybe, that would be great somewhere else. It sounds pretty nasty or Machiavellian. It’s not always everybody thinking like that, but there’s definitely those elements.

Lisa: And sometimes they’re almost [00:23:00] subconscious. So there’s relationships, communication, the leadership thing and. Yeah, what kind of culture that you have, there’s a lot of people talking about psychological safety and I think that’s really important. It’s also probably a lot more complex than most people can get to grips with, including me.

Lisa: But I think the main thing is where I’ve seen my experiences. It’s fine to say yes, you should be able to accept that. Say whatever you think and not worry about the consequences and be supported and have positive discussions even in conflict and come to a resolution. That stuff’s really hard.

Lisa: I tell you what, and you need a really good facility to help with that anyway. It’s not easy to do. So all these things bubble up. Also as you were saying, people have other things in their life, so underlying stress has come out when you’re talking about the change curve.

Lisa: You’re going to get other emotions coming through from what’s happening in the rest of your life as well. And [00:24:00] somebody else is going to necessarily get that. You haven’t said anything, or maybe you don’t even know it, and it’s not necessarily relevant. bUt it is, because it will all come up, or it will be put into the mix, because we’re human.

Lisa: So yeah, I think there’s often a lot of conflict. It’s almost like you have all these concurrent waves of emotions and things that you’re dealing with. And yeah, not everything will be big, it can just be the straw that broke the camel’s back, can’t it? So in that case, yeah, you do tend to get quite a few conflicts bubbling up and quite often ones that are, that you can’t see very well, that are hidden conflicts, frozen conflicts.

Lisa: So you’re actually not, especially if you’re independent consultant or something, you’re not sure why these two people are not talking about, they that gonna press the button and it just doesn’t seem comprehensible, but it’s because there’s something else in the background. So there’s hidden conflict, frozen conflict, and that old chestnut, the passive [00:25:00] aggressive approach where it’s almost invisible again, and you’re thinking.

Lisa: Everything looks all right, but it’s not, it’s still not working. Why is that? And to try and unpick that while at the same time respecting people’s privacy, the whole point is not to be intrusive, but it’s just really at the organizational level, just to make, help it work as smoothly as possible.

Rob: yEah, when you look at how much energy change takes and you look at how much energy conflict takes and then there’s the fear and all of that stuff, it doesn’t leave people a lot of energy to actually do any work. 

Lisa: Another sort of big issue often comes up is how am I supposed to do business as usual while I’m doing this change project, even if I’m not on the change project team 24 seven. So that’s. Another reason to get more people involved as well, actually, at a sort of more granular level and just as needed. But that kind of thing does take a lot of orchestration as 

Rob: well. Something someone else pointed out to me as well is, often what [00:26:00] happens is the plan everyone makes the perfect plan, but When you plan, you assume good relationships, you assume people are brought in, you assume trust, connection, all of those things.

Rob: And it’s only actually when you deliver, when you actually start, that you find that they might not be in place. Is there, when you’re Starting a change is there any do you test how that is or do you measure like how much trust, connection, psychological safety and all those things are present?

Lisa: Yeah, there are different ways you can do it. You can do a change readiness assessment, which really will look at, yeah, things like how much change is going on, what’s the background and things like that about, how people experienced change or, what’s been happening recently. So some of that would come out.

Lisa: I would also typically be talking to the top leadership and some of the key people involved in that change. One to one to try and a view from them. But of course, it depends how much they [00:27:00] consciously want to reveal and subconsciously are aware of. So you can’t know it all before, that you need to know before you start, but also things like a leadership alignment or some kind of kickoff event and involving people and.

Lisa: Being creative in a workshop environment to say yes, confirm what the vision is, confirm what the strategy is and the values and then we can get into the nitty gritty that usually helps to get. at least a solid basis. But yeah, the change management, the whole thing is if you look up change management you see a model and it’s yeah, that’s all just common sense really.

Lisa: Yeah, makes sense. Fine. It’s not rocket science. Fine. But it’s always when you get into it and then all these relationships, other issues of the changes, dynamics team dynamics. I’m into it, which is fascinating, but yeah, in the thick of it, it can be difficult. 

Rob: Okay. So you’ve been doing this, you’re in your third decade now what have you learned and how has it changed you?

Lisa: I’d probably [00:28:00] say I’ve learned that the change can be exciting and can be hard. And can be

Lisa: never ending and any of those things could make you either jump for joy, start crying, or just go, it depends on the context, what your motivation is, who’s helping you with that. Who’s leading you, you probably have all got, had a, if you’re planning a holiday, typically you’ve got a very positive view, unless you don’t want to go on holiday or you hate holidays, it’s an option, but let’s say most people would be happy.

Lisa: Then you’re going into it that attitude, you’re like, woohoo, I’m going to go. And even the thought of maybe if you don’t like flying again or something, you wouldn’t be that keen on it, but you will go through it because you want to get to this sort of. end point that you are envisaging and thinking, yeah, this is what we should do.

Lisa: If somebody else is saying to you Rob, you’re doing the new system tomorrow. You’ve got to complete all the work as usual and do this training course in your spare time. And, we expect you to be able to [00:29:00] send, if you’ve got any questions ask someone, but probably we’ll answer from, but thanks very much.

Lisa: To feel like that, are you? So it really depends. But again, I have been in situations where a leader has been really inspiring and said, yeah, this is going to be great. We are going to have to go through a bit of a pain to get there, but this is going to improve things.

Lisa: It’s going to be fun. So yes, there’s so many variables. I probably learned that or, re estimated that’s true about life. I really like to use change management for life as well as for work, just to try and think, this isn’t going to be perfect. You don’t know quite what’s going to happen, but you can prepare for those ups and downs on your journey and try to enjoy them or learn from them as much as you can, because that is normal.

Lisa: That is. The only way you can do change, you can’t do it from here to here very quickly. Some people have thought that, but it never happens like that. I have worked with people who said we’re just going to put it in. It’s not difficult. And if somebody doesn’t like it, they can [00:30:00] go.

Lisa: But there’s always more to it than that. 

Rob: I think that’s a perfect analogy because when I think about holiday, I’m thinking about being there and I’m thinking, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great. anD on the way there you tolerate the travel and you’re like, okay, it’s okay.

Rob: Cause when we get there, it’s going to be great. And then when the holidays over. I’ve got to go through that and we get delays and I’ve got to sit at the airport and I’ve got to be stuck on a plane. I think that’s a perfect analogy because when we think of the change, we think of the destination, we think of the benefit and it’s the same thing.

Rob: Like now we’re coming to the start of a new year, everyone’s going to be thinking about, we’re really going to get in shape. I like, even though I’m saying that, I’m saying like, I’ve been, I had a cold and I’ve been missing the gym for a couple of weeks. aNd I’m like starting in January, I’m really going to get back in shape.

Rob: And everyone’s saying that because we think about how great it’s going to be when we’re feeling fit, when we’re feeling well, when we’ve made whatever the changes. But when it comes down to getting up and going it’s a completely different thing. And I imagine probably [00:31:00] half of your battle is trying to show the sponsors, the leaders of the change, how difficult it is to make that happen.

Rob: Is that the biggest barrier? 

Lisa: It comes back to this failure thing really. I think you have to think, you have to be more on why do you want to do this? What, and it has to be their ownership. No, not me saying, yes, I think you should do it.

Lisa: Because you’re going to have to go through time, effort, some pain. You’re probably going to lose, you’re possibly going to lose some people who just won’t want to do it for whatever reason. So yeah, it does come into it, but I think you actually really need the why and, the ownership and then saying this is what we need to put into place.

Lisa: Or this sort of framework where people are going to be supported. But they’re not going to just be told and then that’s it and left, and where they feel that they have say in it, even if they haven’t got the say to say I’m doing it or not, that they can somehow shape it and say, this works, or, we should do it this [00:32:00] way.

Lisa: And you do need to set people’s expectations around that. If they can’t change anything, I would say try to give people something that they can change, even if it’s very superficial. Or choose, let’s say, choose when to do the training, how to do the training, whether they want it, online or face to face or But again, if you’ve got hundreds of people, how to face everyone?

Lisa: Yeah. It’s not really possible, so you also have to be pragmatic.

Rob: Something that you’ve repeatedly said. is I think a lot of people, a lot of people, organizations, they come up with the change that they want and then they sell it as a plan. And I think what you’ve said is you need to involve people from the beginning because For me, like people say how do you get buy in?

Rob: It’s too late by then. beCause what you’re really doing is selling someone a solution. And if they don’t want to buy it, you’ve got nowhere to go. Whereas if you include people, you get more diverse perspectives which adds to decision making. And then I think people are included.

Rob: And [00:33:00] even if it isn’t their decision. I think that’s the key thing that people want to do that at least they feel heard, they feel seen, and they feel that they’ve had a say. And then most people are willing to go along with the decision made. 

Lisa: Yeah. The stakeholder engagement is absolutely key.

Lisa: And it is something that sometimes people, they’re focused and they’re not necessarily trying to lock people up. They’re just focused on how do we do this as quickly as possible? Okay. In some cases, there might be something where you just have to do it. But most of the time. You can involve people, you can at least pick them, for someone to represent each area of the business as a minimum.

Lisa: And get the ideas in there, look at the processes, look at it, because you could be thinking, this is exactly what I need. And particularly if it’s more, it’s a bigger organization or more complex one, you might not be privy to everything that goes on then, but they’re very granular in that. And you’re just looking at the outputs.

Lisa: for you. Another one is maybe copying best practice, [00:34:00] best practice is fine, but it’s actually very contextual. So it depends on your company, your people, your culture as well, whether it’s something which works for someone else or work for you. So yeah, get people involved. It’s going to take you a bit more time.

Lisa: You’re probably going to get a bit more pushback or more questions potentially conflict, but it could be a creative type of conflict where it’s no, this will never work because of that. Oh no, but try this or, ah, we could change this as well. And then it’d be really empowering and interesting. And then, as you say, people do feel like it’s their change.

Lisa: Yeah, I was involved in this. I found the whole reason why we have this interface, because I pointed out this, so that has to be done, really, if you want people to buy into it, because otherwise, yeah, it’s just going to be something. The worst thing is if you get an email from above, just, you’re doing this, off you go, it’s not even the human face, not even the chance to question.

Lisa: So yeah, [00:35:00] you want the opposite of that. Of course, you have to be pragmatic and you can’t say it’s a free fall. Anyone can design this system, that wouldn’t work either. So it’s got to be in a pragmatic way. 

Rob: One of the messages I’ve got from talking to you is really recognizing that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And I suspect that is probably why you are so focused on change that you’ve recognized that and you’re embracing that whole change thing as part of the journey and putting yourself like as in moving different countries and that focus on change is about recognizing that journey.

Rob: Where did that, when did you consciously become aware of that in your life? 

Lisa: I think it was when I was quite a young child, I just wanted to go and explore. When I studied languages at university, I was in France for a year and then Italy for a few months. And, that just made me think, this is how you learn by being in the place.

Lisa: not just by looking in a book, by immersion, by, and it’s not just the language. It’s how people use it, a [00:36:00] language, you can learn a language from a book. When I got to France, people were laughing at me because I said, Oh, you’re so precise with your words and thing. And yeah, I think, that was a big thing.

Lisa: It was like, Oh yeah. And, in situ, it’s different and it’s not static. It’s never static. So I think that was part of it. And then, when I was working in corporate and, traveling around mostly in the UK, I loved the job and I loved the variety, but I wanted to do more of that, finding myself in a completely different environment.

Lisa: How would I react? How would, just like a big experiment, in life. How, what would it be like? What would be the same? What would be different? How would people, what are these things called norms or that are part of a culture? Maybe because I recognized as well that, a lot of British culture norms, I don’t really feel that attached to other things I do, but why is that?

Lisa: And yeah, I think actually, the whole what’s British, what’s English, all that kind of thing, which people often [00:37:00] ask me. I’ve done whole pictures about what’s the UK, what’s GB, what’s England, it’s incredibly complex trying to explain it. And yeah, it’s kind of identity, I think, like that, but also bigger than identity because, I quickly realized you can’t put someone in a box by where they’re born.

Lisa: So just that richness, I think, yeah, came to me from childhood, but gradually, as I had more experiences, I wanted to learn more and find out more. And yeah, I definitely see it as a process thing. Yes, you need a what are you trying to achieve? So you’ve got to have some goals and some measures, but really it’s also what kind of place do you want to work in?

Lisa: What kind of place do you want to live in? What kind of, what do you want your life to feel like and to look like? We’re always playing with that. And I haven’t got the answers, but I think that’s really an interesting way to look, rather than what you want to achieve. As the main goal, let’s say.

Lisa: Because I think sometimes, what you want to achieve, for me anyway, I’ve [00:38:00] achieved things and then I’ve enjoyed it, but that’s, and this is a typical sportsperson thing, isn’t it? That’s, once you have that’s not enough. It’s really what does it feel like? What else is there? I don’t really like to fixate on just one thing.

Lisa: And, yeah, it’s The journey of change, it’s always changing. And yeah, you can pick on, somebody can ask me to help them with one change, but that’s only part of what’s happening now on what will happen in the future. So it’s not finite. I think that’s exciting. 

Rob: My natural style is, very analytical, and it is trying to put boxes, and it’s like I can then empathize with John Gottman says his. His goal is to make relationships a differential equation and his wife’s completely different.

Rob: So all he did, so John Gottman is a relationship researcher, and for 40 years he just collected statistics and research, never tried to make any change to that. And it was only when his wife got involved, who was a therapist, and she’s let’s put a story to this, and where it was [00:39:00] actually useful.

Rob: Yeah, I can see. 

Lisa: I think it’s both having both. It’s great, isn’t it? I definitely tend towards the other. But yes, obviously you have to in, in any change, have some goals and have something to make. Yeah. I think that the ideal is to have that. 

Rob: Yeah. And I can, yeah, I can see that you’re embracing the richness, the experiential elements.

Rob: And you do need, because if you have a tendency to be analytical. then it doesn’t speak to the experience and it doesn’t give enough respect to the difficulty of actually what it’s like putting it in place. 

Rob: So what’s next for you? So you’ve been through so much change.

Rob: You’ve experienced so much change, so many cultures, so many languages. What so what gives your. work meaning and where are you what’s the direction you’re heading in? 

Lisa: I Think just, one thing is I’m just going to keep going. Keep going, keep exploring. I think, I’m [00:40:00] really interested at the moment, I have been for a long time, but in using visual tools visual facilitation to help.

Lisa: people as well to express where they want to go. And some of the issues around, how to get there. So putting a story to the change curve actually. And I’ve done that before in bits and pieces in workshop. I think it can work really well. So the visual side is something that I’m really working on digitally.

Lisa: So that I can do that with people, not just face to face. And also I’m really interested in AI and sustainability, both of the things which are really important. I think both will be drivers for change for a lot of people, a lot of companies and people probably as individuals, 

Lisa: working on things to do with those areas. 

Rob: That sounds fascinating because they’re fast, again, fast changing. 

Lisa: Yes. Yeah. And it’s hard to keep up with those things, but as I said, as well, this idea of change management being embedded into an organization, just having that focus [00:41:00] on people, technology and process meshing and being involved.

Lisa: I think there has been more of that with things like agile and so on. They are methods as well, which can work, but the methods are never enough. Like we were just talking about, the methods can look great on paper. Think it, plan it and do it. What’s going to happen.

Lisa: But it’s the, when you start dealing with people that are the issues. But yeah, I think there’s a lot of interesting things going on. And then of course, how AI is going to affect. which tasks it’s going to take away from people, what’s going to be left for people and will that make it more challenging for things like relationships and communications or less?

Lisa: I suspect more challenging, but we’ll see. 

Rob: I think it’s going to be more challenging in the sense of it’s a change. It’s a change. It’s every generation, like we look at kids on their phones. Kids are on their phone all the time. And it’s just a different way of communicating.

Rob: I think the older you get, the harder maybe it is to see because it’s not [00:42:00] natural to you. whEreas kids who are growing up and they’re going to grow up with AI. It’s just going to become a natural part of their life. Yes. 

Lisa: Yeah, I was listening to a podcast or a radio show just recently and they were talking about the biggest, potentially the biggest challenges actually generational will be for it.

Lisa: Between, as you were saying, people who are finding AI or technology or all sorts of things. are looking at it in a completely different way to people from a different generation, and there’s going to be a huge gap there, but potentially that you can also work together and learn from different things. So I never see it as a negative.

Lisa: Really, it’s just a challenge. 

Rob: I think it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be exciting. I think change is a challenge, but the alternative to change is basically death. When things stay the same is a worse state. I’m always optimistic about attracting things.

Rob: Sometimes they go in the wrong [00:43:00] direction, but all that means is that then you boomerang into the right direction. 

Lisa: But yeah, I think, the past few years showed us in some ways, what’s status looks like, in the pandemic and what stagnation looks like, and it’s not good for humans.

Lisa: Maybe it actually was okay for the planet, but not for humans, yeah. 

Rob: Okay. So if someone was inspired and wants to get in touch with you, so you’re now working with individuals in that visual change process? 

Lisa: Yes. Yeah. I work with individuals and companies. So anyone who’s interested in visualizing where they want to go physically as a, moving to another country is one example, or just changing anything in their lives.

Lisa: And wants to visualize that. I can work with them on that. And so the easiest place to get in contact with me is LinkedIn. You can also read some of the thoughts that I’ve had and some of the processes that I use. I’m also on Medium, writing longer pieces about change management rules, so culture and [00:44:00] travel, and more widely.

Lisa: anD I have a newsletter as well, which you can get via LinkedIn as 

Rob: well. And what kind of organizations do you typically work with? Now 

Lisa: it would be more smaller organizations, but quite recently as well, a larger pharmaceutical the government organization NGO, all kinds. Typically, because it’s just me, I work, I can either work with the team, but if it’s just me, I’ll work with somebody who wants one to one help with an aspect or if they already have a change plan and they want, you want to just pick a few ideas around, have an audit on it, maybe check that most things are covered.

Lisa: As we’ve said, it’s going to grow anyway. And it’s going to develop, I’d also do audits of change management plans and project plans. Okay. 

Rob: Thank you for your time. I think if we were looking at like kind of two, Two sides of the coin where mine is more analytical yours is very rich and [00:45:00] very artistic and experiential.

Rob: So it’s been really interesting because to see, because I think we’ve been on a similar path in that we’ve both been looking at change. My change has been individuals and I think yours has been big change, but it’s now coming down to the individual. So we’ve traveled on the opposite.

Rob: scale but obviously doing different things. 

Lisa: Yeah, but I also enjoy reading your content and there’s a lot of sort of overlap or things that are important to both of us. And I appreciate the analytical approach as well. And I think it’s really useful. That’s been great to talk to you.

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