Recently, our team completed a project in which we designed a Listening Session to spread awareness of a new marketing effort for one of our clients. It was a three-hour engagement with a variety of guest speakers and panels of subject matter experts, however the part that I enjoyed the most was designing a Listening Guide for the audience.
The guide contained a series of interactive sections to dovetail the information being shared onstage. It was designed to lead the audience toward self-discovery and pull information from them. This level of attention to how the audience takes in information is crucial to managing any kind of change.
When planning to announce a new initiative or change, most companies will pay a great deal of attention to the actual announcement. They’ll likely give thought to the word choice, the medium of communication, and the timing. They may even have a team dedicated to planning an event for the launch. More often than not, these efforts will fulfill an intention at an acceptable level. However, the capacity of The Many to fully embrace something new and different exceeds that of The Few to push information outwards. As a result, this capacity often goes untapped.
Everyone has stories from work of initiatives that fell by the wayside due to lack of engagement. For the more seasoned employees, the launch of something new can become white noise—just another company announcement. It’s certainly a challenge, but I think there's a difference between planning what you want to say and planning what you want others hear. To me, this is the difference between fulfilling an intention at an acceptable level and fulfilling an intention at the upper end of what's possible.
My favorite projects are the ones in which we operate on the side of The Many and empathically design ways to equip the audience for change.