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    Five Building Blocks of Successful Change

    zoeIn my day job, I am a change management consultant. Usually when I tell people that at a cocktail party I get a perplexed look. I watch the other person quickly assess whether they know what that is and, if they don’t, decide whether to fake understanding or ask me what the heck that is!

    My elevator speech is that I help organizations going through major change (for example, a merger/acquisition, IT system implementation, new product introduction, or organizational restructure) understand the impacts to various stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, donors) and create strategies and tactics to help those stakeholders prepare for the change, get through the change with minimal disruption, and sustain the change. It typically involves building sponsorship for the change within the organization’s leadership, developing targeted communications and designing and delivering training. It’s a rather lengthy elevator ride, but it’s the best I can come up with. Basically I spend a lot of time in meetings, make a lot of PowerPoint presentations for executives and project teams, do a lot of “impact analysis” and facilitate lots of workshops and strategic planning sessions.

    It may sound boring, but I get to work with a wide variety of people and I help leaders empathize with their employees and all those who may be resistant to whatever change is taking place. I utilize several frameworks and methodologies and change theory, depending on the situation. One very popular framework for change management is the Prosci ADKAR model. The basic premise is that individuals “can only successfully adopt new behaviors if they have the five building blocks of successful change.” These are AWARENESS of the need for carrying out the behavior, DESIRE to participate and support the change, KNOWLEDGE on how to change, ABILITY to implement the required skills and behaviors, and REINFORCEMENT to sustain the change.

    Not only is this useful for guiding organizations through major transformations, but I also think it is an interesting way to build a successful political campaign strategy.

    AWARENESS: Before you can support or vote for anyone, voters have to be aware the election is happening and that you are running. Voters have to know who you are and when to vote for you. In crowded fields (like my DCCC race in 2012 with 31 candidates vying for 14 seats), name recognition is the key. That is why candidates wear buttons and ask their supporters to wear buttons and t-shirts. You also notice candidates often put the date of the election on their campaign materials. “Vote for Zoe on June 7, 2016!”

    DESIRE: You have to inspire voters to want to vote at all, as well as to donate and vote for you specifically. Our voter turnout has been abysmal in the United States and particularly California, where turnout in the primary and general elections in 2014 came in at 18% and 21% respectively. Part of that is apathy, inconvenience or cynicism that one person’s vote can’t make a difference. If a voter has not personally met you, they are less likely to make the effort to vote for you. That is why candidates hit the campaign trail hard, meeting as many voters as possible. It is also important to convey that every vote counts. In my 2012 election I beat out the next candidate by a mere 32 votes, in a district covering 60% of the city—I can attest, every vote does count! Obama won in 2008 because he was able to inspire young voters to care enough to get out and vote for him.

    KNOWLEDGE: Voters need to know how and why to vote for you. Where do