Tina Hedlund
Senior Consultant, Comtech Services, Inc.

The focus of the December 2nd Innovator’s Forum meeting was about creating a sense of urgency and developing a vision for a planned innovation or change.

Many participants felt that overcoming resistance to change means acknowledging the loss a writer may feel from no longer doing something the old way. In some cases, such as a move to XML and/or content management, a writer may lose the ability to be the expert on a tool because it is no longer in use. To acknowledge that loss, some have found it useful to meet with staff and brainstorm what will be different.

Fear of the unknown can also block progress. One participant found that anticipating change prevented staff from accepting the change. It wasn’t until the staff was trained in the new tools that the fear of the unknown went away. The change wasn’t as difficult as they anticipated.

In addition to fear of the unknown, many organizations can be paralyzed by the fear of more work. A participant stated that their innovation had to demonstrate a simplification of the process leading to less work for the organization.

But how do you communicate to your staff before fear becomes an issue? One participant argued the book Fish! held part of the answer for their group. Fish! is a popular management philosophy book that has spawned the sequels, Fish! Sticks, Fish! Tales.

Using the Fish philosophy, this organization is attempting to communicate its core values. Poster communicating core values are displayed throughout the company. The manager considers the posters an effective, if not unique, way of communicating the corporate message. In another example of the Fish! philosophy, an organization used crossword puzzles to help educate and communicate change to its writers.

For the next meeting, participants are asked to create a vision statement, in Word, PowerPoint, PDF, or as a poster, and share it with the group.