Putting people at the heart of change

This article was first published by Oliver Wyman here.


For more than 20 years, 8works has partnered with many of the world's most successful organizations, putting people at the heart of change to design, embed, and activate winning strategies, new ways of operating, and cultures that deliver results. 

Our focus on People-Led Change isn’t a standard approach, nor an easy one. But it is highly effective. Here’s how we do it.


Helping achieve alignment and agreement

Meaningful long-term change can’t happen in a business until the people driving it are all on the same page about what they’re trying to accomplish. Leaders need to share the same definitions of accountability, value, and other fundamental concepts, as well as a common vision for the direction of their company’s transformation. Unfortunately, all too often that simply isn’t the case: In an Oliver Wyman TrueView-conducted survey of 1,300 people across 26 roles, only 23% of leaders identified that they were committed to the organization’s change initiatives while 77% identified as uncommitted or neutral. Without majority commitment and alignment from leadership, any change initiative will be perceived as a low priority.  

8works builds that needed alignment among leaders by helping them to articulate the why, what, and how of change. Of course, alignment alone isn’t enough; through facilitating co-creation and immersive experiences with diverse stakeholder groups across the organization, we show leaders the importance of embracing and committing to their shared vision. From there we inspire them to actively champion it throughout the organization. That goes a long way to making it stick. 


Getting people at all levels involved

As crucial as it is for leaders to be in sync on a change initiative, its execution can’t come exclusively from the top down. So, our next step is to get buy-in from across the organization. 8works shows leaders how to use a transparent, inclusive, and human-centered approach that empowers their people to take an active role in designing and embedding a sustainable transformation. In fact, achieving lasting success increases dramatically when employees and management design change initiatives together. In other words, to get things right, co-creation is a must.

We show clients the benefits of leveraging diverse perspectives, in part through design experiences that foster a sense of ownership among employees. They learn how to identify and engage with the key influencers from various areas and levels of the organization, and ways to equip them with tools and techniques that will get the proper messaging across and keep up momentum. Eventually everyone involved in the transformation —not just a handful of people in the C-suite — understands the stake they have in its outcome.


A hands-on, interactive, and immersive approach

In order to achieve desired outcomes, the way we engage with our clients is usually a lot different than they’re used to. You can’t just put people in a room, give them a PowerPoint presentation, and suddenly by magic they become aligned, and their transformation comes off flawlessly. That’s why we immerse them in creative events, learning mechanisms, and even physical activities that leave them well-equipped to effect lasting change in their companies. For one client, we might conduct a full-service funeral to "bury" old processes. For another, we might build a large-scale three-dimensional model to represent an ideal future state to help visualize the connections, collaborations, interdependencies, risks, and gaps to fill. It’s important to note that every exercise is carefully designed to affect mindsets, break patterns, and facilitate collaboration. It also doesn’t hurt that they can be a lot of fun.


Making change last

This hands-on, interactive approach also takes into account that not everyone learns in the same way. We create experiences that cater to different types of intelligences; in fact, the ‘8’ in 8works represents the 8 types identified by Harvard developmental psychologist Howard Gardner. The more closely tailored the experience, the greater the engagement and ultimately the success of the project.  

But no matter how they learn best, the people involved in a transformation remain squarely at the center of everything 8works does. We firmly believe in the mantra that “people support what they help to create.” The most important first step is building a strong foundation for long-term commitment to change.