4 Steps to Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

This post is from the SMUG Department of Philosophy. It isn’t about social media as much as it’s about personal growth. But in keeping with the rest of the SMUG curriculum, it’s based on my practical experience, and what has worked for me. In writing it I’m mainly reminding myself to apply what I’ve learned, so that in the coming year I might repeat my occasional successes instead of my more plentiful failures. If it helps you, so much the better.

In other words, it’s SMUG philosophy, not smug philosophy.

More often than not, January 1 has essentially taken me by surprise, like I didn’t even see it coming. As I overdosed on college football and enjoyed what was typically the last day of a break from the office, I suddenly realized I was at the start of whole new year and that I should think of some things I want to change. And without exception, those New Year’s resolutions have been shoved to the back burner within the next couple of weeks, and usually much more quickly.

But I have had some instances in which I was able to make meaningful long-term changes. So as I reflect on them, I want to draw some insights and tips that will help me as I look to mend my ways in 2009. You might consider applying them, too.

Continue reading “4 Steps to Keeping New Year’s Resolutions”

Change Communication Planning


Bonfire’s Audience-Centric Communication Planning Map (click above to enlarge) moves through these steps from left-to-right in the map below, instead of just jumping to the final step. When the CEO says, “I want a blog,” that’s just jumping to a solution.

They recommend instead starting with:

  1. Audience Concerns: Who is the audience and what do they care about? Aggregate audiences by concerns and how the technology will impact them instead of artificial hierarchical structures or functional roles. For example, look at technological skill level of audiences. Create tiers of concerns. Some will cut across functional roles. What information is most essential? What will get people’s attention and address their concerns? What do people need to hear to jump on board? What is the connection and disconnection between the communicator and the audience? The great thing about Web 2.0 technologies is that they enable users to choose what they want to receive, and what information is relevant to them.
  2. Sponsor Concerns/Business Outcomes: What do we or our sponsors expect us to achieve? What business metrics are we chartered to move or influence? What are the stated and unstated expectations? What behaviors or actions are we to inspire or reinforce? What is the fundamental issue that we are trying to address? What are the business objectives you’re looking to achieve in how people Think, Feel, Know and Do in the Current State vs. Future State. What is the fundamental shift needed to get people to Think, Feel, Know and Do what you would like them to do? Example: a casino shifting to a consumer-driven healthcare environment. How do you get people who work in smoky casinos start to make healthy choices? “Just do it” wouldn’t work. Instead it was “Choose wellness where it works for you.” Tagline was: “Be at your best.” This is the way toward working together to lower healthcare costs.
  3. Communication Objectives. Look at three phases: Awareness, Understanding and Action. Match the Audience Concerns with the Sponsor Concerns/Business Outcomes. Explain to the audiences how these are aligned. What are our SMART communication objectives? Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Actionable, Realistic, Time-Based.
  4. Story/Key Messages: How can we create a conversation that moves people? Create a “North Star” or mantra, with key messages that support. Communicators are the most equipped group of people to guide the cultural conversation. How can we create a shared vision? How do we share a common view of current reality? What is our STORY from this journey and what actions will make the difference? What mantra will shift behavior?
  5. Design Criteria: How can we design communications for impact? How do our audiences take in information? How do they learn, share knowledge and collaborate? What design elements will appeal to them the most? If there is an existing brand framework, what is the relationship to the new design criteria?
  6. Communication Solutions: At this point in time, what are the right messages and solutions for these audiences? What are all of the possibilities that we should explore? What tools share knowledge, build skills and support change over time? What are our selection criteria? How do we create a rhythm and pulse while sustaining our efforts?

Changing the way people orient to information can shift their view of the world and influence lasting behavioral change.

Note: Photos from today’s session will be uploaded to the SMUG Student Union site on Facebook.

The Change Curve

Vivien and Marady started by discussion organizational change management, and understanding the stages people go through in moving from a current state to future state. It can be like jumping a chasm:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Blame
  • Fear
  • Acceptance
  • Shifts
  • Excitement
  • Creativity
  • New Forms

It can be represented graphically like this:


(That’s  Marady as spokesmodel. Click the thumbnail to enlarge.)

A better model, they suggest, is Peter Senge’s creative tension method of a learning organization, as visualized below:


We’ll get into that after the break.

8 Steps to Successful Change

I just read a really good new book. Today. Twice. It’s about a 45-minute read.

It’s by John Kotter of Harvard Business School (with Holger Rathgeber), and it’s called Our Iceberg is Melting. In it they use a fable based on the Emporer Penguins of Antarctica to communicate the change-management principles outlined in Kotter’s previous book, Leading Change. I’ve just ordered that on Amazon, and look forward to reading it, too. I understand it will give some of the research and background for the 8-step process outlined in Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions:

1. Create a Sense of Urgency
2. Pull Together the Guiding Team
3. Develop the Change Vision and Strategy
4. Communicate for Understanding and Buy In
5. Empower Others to Act
6. Produce Short-Term Wins
7. Don’t Let Up
8. Create a New Culture

They also talk about how thinking differently can help change behavior and lead to better results, but feeling differently can change behavior MORE and lead to even better results.

The authors have a companion web site that has helpful information, too.

The site, and the book’s dust jacket, also have several testimonials that are interesting, such as this one:

“As a result of the book and my sharing it with a few people in the organization, we have moved quickly on several fronts. We are galvanized to go ahead instead of further studying, more organizing, and so on. It is making a difference for us.”
— Tom Curley, President and CEO, Associated Press

Apparently the AP doesn’t have the aversion to change that the former editor of the LA Times, does. I guess he would be NoNo. If ever there was a melting iceberg, it would be the newspaper business.

Several other organizations are using the fable to lead change efforts, having many if not all employees read the book and using it as a launching pad for discussion. I know I will be reading this again and recommending it to others as we confront our own melting icebergs at work.

Getting Things Done is about personal change. Our Iceberg Is Melting is about how organizations can change successfully. I think there will be lots of synergy, if you’ll pardon the buzzword, between the two.

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