When communicating change, it’s just as important to let people know what hasn’t changed. That is often our ‘Why’ – the passion behind our business.
The French have an expression – ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’. It translates as ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’
We’ve had plenty of change recently. We’ve seen change become one of the key topics of business communication. How organisations have pivoted, how they address clients’ new challenges, and about their revised operational models.
Communicating change – and the unchanged
But when we’re communicating change, it can be just as important to remember to tell people what hasn’t changed, as well as what is new and different. Even in times of turmoil, or especially in times of turmoil, finding and communicating the consistency of our message is essential.
Effective business communication does three things – it connects, it convinces, it converts.
Messages that convince and convert tend to be based on practicalities – our product, our service, and the customers who use them. These ‘What’ and ‘How’ elements of our business are the ones that are most likely to change with market demands, including, let’s just say, a worldwide pandemic.
Connection is based on ‘Why’
We build connection with our audience not on the ‘What’ or the ‘How’ of our business, but the ‘Why’. The ‘Why’ is the driving force behind our business, the ethos, the goals, the vision. It’s the understanding of our customers’ needs, wants and desires. It’s the passion behind what we do.
In his TED Talk, ‘How great leaders inspire action’ Simon Sinek summarises why it’s so important for a business to understand and communicate its ‘Why’ and how doing so engages the hearts of its audience.
The unchanging ‘Why’
The Why of a business rarely changes, even when a business makes what might seem like quite a significant pivot. The Why of our business is our consistency – and it’s essential to remember this in our communication.
When we are communicating change, the things that remain the same take on even greater importance. In fact, they are strengthened by remaining the same in the face of all the upheaval around them. Non-change is the stable platform from which we can confidently launch changes, knowing that they are still underpinned by the same solid philosophies and values.
A passion for produce
O.MY is a restaurant in Beaconsfield, Victoria. Their philosophy and ‘Why’ is all about locally grown fresh food. The owners have a small farm, where they grow all the produce that goes onto the menu. “At O.MY, our food philosophy comes from respect for the earth, for what we grow and our commitment to sustainability and minimal waste. We are passionate about growing and using fresh, seasonal produce”, they say.
In lockdown, with a restaurant no longer viable, they have switched to selling Farm Boxes. Different product, different delivery method, but same understanding of their customers and the same philosophy: “Our Farm Boxes use the same philosophy as our restaurant menu; we use ever-changing, seasonal ingredients.”
From inspection to cleaning
Digital Aerolus designs drones used for inspections in inaccessible places. The need to disinfect indoor spaces without putting human cleaners at risk led them to develop an indoor drone equipped with UVC energy for rapid, autonomous and effective cleaning. From inspection to cleaning is quite a pivot, but the company hasn’t changed its ‘Why’ of specialising in ‘autonomous mobility systems for any vehicle that flies, drives, dives or swims’.
Consistency powers change
If you change the ‘What’, but keep the ‘Why’, it actually reinforces the strength of the ‘Why’. The consistency of the ‘Why’ gives you the ability to change and also makes sense of the change.
That idea, and the importance of communicating consistency as well as change, is elegantly and succinctly expressed in ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’.