There’s one ingredient that’s required and present in all growth: change.
You can’t grow if you don’t change. That’s as true in life as it is in business. You can’t get stronger if you don’t change what/how you lift. You can’t lose weight if you don’t change what you eat. You can’t innovate if you don’t change how you think about the consumer, cultural, and competitive landscape and how your product/service fits into it.
Change is the raw material of growth. There’s nothing with which to build progress with if you don’t invest in change first.
And yet, human beings are terrible at change. We’re not wired for it. In fact, we’re wired to avoid change. The only thing harder than changing a human is changing a group of humans, which of course is the task of most challengers regardless of your role or industry. If you’re trying to scale a challenger business, you need to change the market you’re in. If you’re trying to drive innovation in an incumbent, you need to change how people think and act internally. Most of us need to do some element of both external and internal change in order to be successful. We’re all in the business of change, but we’re all selling to an audience that inherently doesn’t want to be sold to.
So, how do you get people to change in order to drive growth?
Change, especially in large markets or businesses happens top-down and bottom-up. Most of us focus on the top-down approach to change. The big campaigns or big presentations where we present our big ideas, share our thinking, and make our case. This blunt-force approach is part of successful change – you need to share your vision of the better tomorrow that change will bring. But in order to change people also need to see specific, tangible improvements to the things they care about. They need to see the new use-case, the successful pilot project, the proof in the execution not just the theory. Bottom-up change usually means taking a bite-sized chunk of the potential you see and showing your audience (external or internal) that you can make growth happen with the change you want to deliver.
Most change fails, not because the top-down pitch and promise is weak, but because the bottom-up proof points aren’t there.
If you’re responsible for change, think about how you can prove more with a bottom-up approach to go along with your top-down push.
Further reading on this topic