Carolina Doldán, Change Agency, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Carolina Doldán is co-founder of Change Agency, a young, agile company full of experts in internal communication and organizational change.
Carolina’s partners (Juan Bautista Ortell and Carolina Spataro) and their teams execute: internal communication, corporate culture shifts, organizational change, transformation, and coaching.
Carolina's team develops the most creative attention-grabbing campaigns you’ve ever seen. She and her partners have a disruptive style in a good way. They transmit fun, positivity, and out-of-the-box effectiveness. But Carolina pursues results while respecting and nurturing a culture’s values. Most importantly, Carolina finds evidence of impact on each project.
If you or another leader is finalizing plans for a Fall retreat or a 2023 kickoff, Mark Cook energizes audiences and groups. He gets leaders unstuck and thriving with their teams. Mark also creates "Proactive Referrals Programs" for Sales and Marketing meetings. Reach Mark at: Mark@WindfallPartners.com.
“I think it's very personal,” said Carolina Doldán, enterprise veteran, about finding passion within corporations. “I mean you can be in a corporate position or in any company and feel you're doing what defines you or what you want to do.”
“It doesn't work like that; not at all,” Carolina Doldán, master communicator, said of typical c-suite messages. “If we have the values hanging in the wall, it's not going to do anything. We have a simple strategy that has a couple of steps. First, you have to make people part of that strategy…”
“It doesn't work like that; not at all,” Carolina Doldán, master communicator, said of typical c-suite messages. “If we have the values hanging in the wall, it's not going to do anything. We have a simple strategy that has a couple of steps. First, you have to make people part of that strategy…”
Carolina Doldán showed her thinking and courage to launch Change Agency, “I was going through a coaching process which was really profound to me…I made the decision to leave a job where I had been for 10 years. And there were several factors that led me to this decision. On the one hand, I personally had change in me…”
“It was creating something that is mine,” Carolina Doldán, change expert, said. “It has all the ingredients that I consider valuable and that are part of my values and my work culture.”
“Extreme creativity is doing something disruptive in a campaign that catches other’s attention,” Carolina Doldán, internal communicator, recommends. “Then maybe they like what they see and get involved.”
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Carolina, herself, is a dynamic change agent and corporate transformation expert with strong background in strategy, organizational development, and change management. She leads to achieve what clients set out to accomplish. And she loves every minute. Everyone around her can tell. Carolina's visionary leadership and drive have earned her several prestigious awards and honors. For example, Goldman Sachs included Carolina in their “10,000 Women” Recognition. Carolina is also a speaker for IC forums, conferences, and webinars.
Carolina Doldán: https://www.wearechange.agency/about.html
Carolina's LinkedIn Link:
We have with us today, Carolina Doldán, a partner at change agency in Buenos Aires, voted one of the top female leaders in all of South America. She's an expert at communicating change inside a company.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
In a moment, the unmatched Carolina Doldán.
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Today we have with us Carolina Doldán of Change Agency. She's working out of a suburb of Buenos Aires, someone who's a specialist at getting to know people and communicating within companies with people that you don't usually communicate effectively or at all with. She has won the ICON award, which is supported by Image Magazine. They did some work for one of their clients, Pepsi and many other U.S. companies, and they won the category of internal communication.
How are you, Carolina?
I'm great. Thank you for having me.
I wanted to just ask you about how your career began.
When I finished college, I started in internal communication in different consultancy firms. And well, I'm married. I have two kids. So, well, I started working as an employee and now I'm in another chapter of my life. My kids are: one is turning 12 this Friday and the other is 6 years old.
Tell us a little bit about all those people you work with.
Well, for internal communications, it's a nice group. We are at 17. We are at three partners with three business partners. And then we have designers, we have copywriters, we have video editors and consultants and we also add some people for special projects that have special skills for something in particular. Really, what we do is help companies communicate better with their employees and also help the employees communicate better with each other through processes of change. I mean now all companies are in a process of change.
So as you started working in the business world as an employee way back then before the family and such and then you made this transition. Have you ever hit a stumbling block in work or life that really affected your work?
About five years ago, I was going through a coaching process, which was really profound in me—really great. And well, I made a decision to leave a job where I was, I had been, for like 10 years and there were like several factors that led me to this decision. On the one hand, I personally had change in me. I mean, besides the coaching and the yoga, that also helped a lot and some key people in my life. I no longer felt myself in that company where I was.
So at that moment, at this key moment. I had a five-year old and a baby, so it was like a compulsion time. So a series of events started to take place and that was like sort of magical. I mean, in my world it was like the dots, like Steve Jobs says, the dots will connect eventually and they started to connect, a really chaotic, at first, time.
Well, what happened is that a colleague of mine recommends me to another company to be hired, so for a very important corporate position. So I go through the whole process, the interviews and everything, and I get selected and at the last moment I say no. This is not something for me. It is not going to help me grow. This is not where I want to go. I didn't know where to go either.
Tell me why you felt that way. Why didn’t you feel growth as a person?
I mean it's not that. It's all right for other people, but in that moment for me, I didn't want a corporate position. Because it was not going to look like what I wanted to define myself. Because all my life I was accepting proposals from other employers and trying to accommodate to those proposals and at this minute at that moment I wanted to ask myself: well, what do you want to do? Create what you want to do!
So even talking to my coach, he said, well, this is not the way. I'm still going forward with the interviews and everything. And it was a Friday and I was going to start on Monday and I said I'm so sorry, but I'm not going to go. And it was like terrible because I had left my other job. And I didn't have this future job. So I got nothing and I got like a really huge fear of not being able to reinsert myself in a job, especially in a country like Argentina, so.
Working to me, it's something that defines me now. It's not just a job and then it's my life. My job is something very important in my life. So this situation of not wanting to go to a company, but at the same time not knowing what to do, was very much a way of imbalance place, you know. And the main feeling is fear. It’s not a fear of not having money or something to eat or live in your daily life, but it's a fear of not finding myself.
Of this, maybe there’s this stupid thing of saying you're a certain age where you should be—have these, all these things resolved. And it was like a change of direction then that I had in my mind that made me rethink many fundamental things of my identity. And there was not a day where I said, well, yesterday I was bad and now I'm great. It was like a gradual process where I realized what I want to do and how I could shape it somehow day by day.
What were some of the key discoveries that you made in that soul searching time?
Mainly, it was creating something that is mine and that has all the ingredients that I consider valuable and that are part of my values or my work culture. I mean, it has to do with what I said before that I mean I was always accepting other proposals and, now, I'm on my own and thinking: well, what shape do you want to give to this? So it was very frightening, then I moved forward. So here I am.
It's interesting what one of the things that happens in corporate life, which is where I've spent most of my time, is that you feel like you are doing something for someone else. But if you're on your own, you get to decide, but you have clients. The problems are more often real problems.
What do you think the difference is if mentally, intellectually, they feel like they should be very similar, but I understand the feeling that you're having. It can arise in a lot of people that work for companies.
What is that that's going on and is there a way to rethink it if there's an employee or a contractor that's committed to a company? Could they gain that fresh perspective regain insight?
I think it's very personal. I mean you can be in a corporate position or in any company and feel you're doing what defines you or what you want to do.
And sometimes you don't. It has to do with your DNA, I guess, or deep evolving of your DNA, maybe because at some point of your life, maybe it's. You feel great and you feel at your essence. When you are in a corporate position and then if you're somewhere else, if you are independent you don't and vice versa. So I think it's a personal path. If I understood your question.
Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. So tell me this, let's fast forward just a teeny bit and let's go to some of your clients. Now, you have some great names that even US people recognize, one is PepsiCo and some others.
Nova Nordisk, Appalachian Group, which is in the US and Broker which is international organization for helping women, which I'm very proud of being the agency. And well and many other clients that there are banks or insurance companies that generally, for example, an insurance company that is many countries also and then we have many clients that are in the South America in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay.
That's great. I'm wondering, you know the big ones that you've got, they didn't just show up right at the beginning with no effort and they have they have a budget to invest in, someone to advise on how to get the best in communication with their employees.
Interesting. One of the problems that you saw that I think is really fascinating is you had some of the strategy elements. I do strategy projects with clients as well, but you provide some a very interesting piece that is a big problem, which is the communication of those elements.
In companies, it's often mysterious to them why they can't send the executives off site to some wonderful resort, decide on things by themselves, write a beautiful one-page document and e-mail it out and mention it in a meeting, then they have people say, “Well I don't even understand the strategy,” or not follow it or not be engaged with or feel strongly about it. And it's a mystery to them because people should just listen and obey. That's not quite how it works.
It doesn't work like that, not at all. It's not. If we have the values hanging on the wall, it's not going to do anything. We have a simple strategy. That has a couple of steps, which is, well. First, you have to make people part of that strategy, part of those values of those principles, of those rules. If they don't have a part of that, it's difficult to adopt it.
But our strategy it's about, first, empowering leaders. And have them say, well, yes, I want to be part of this and I'm going to give myself in the service of all these projects, whatever it is. If it is a training initiative, if it is a new mission, vision, values, if it is agile methodologies or employee branding or whatever it is.
If you haven't got this, you need endorsement from the leaders and then if we have that then we do the awareness phase. I mean everyone has to do, has to know that this is going on, that this is important to the company. I mean this is what I'm saying now is mostly how we measure if internal communication projects work or don't work. If we have leaders endorsing this, if we have leaders, people say, well, I heard about this, this is the awareness face and we’ve got everyone to understand that this is important and that it is. That it is having a place on the agenda of the organization.
And then we have the understanding phase, which is, well, I have to know that this is going on in the awareness space, but now I need to know how this impacts myself, how this change is going to impact the way I work. The way I relate to my boss and how I relate to my team. The way this industry is going to develop and how am I going to do things differently now that this is in the company. For example, let's say if there's someone or something I don't know and a new system to digitalize everything we do. Change must happen.
So then we move to the adoption phase, which is well, what am I going to do as an employee to nurture this is to put something of myself, let's say suggestions. This is a more interactive phase where we may do contests to challenge people, co-creating stuff about these subjects and then we measure what we did. And in the middle we are measuring all the time. Do people know about this? Yes.
OK, let's move to understanding do people understand what they have to do in this. What part do they take? How important is it that their position is there? And then? How many people are involved in this? How many people participated in in the contest, in the challenge, in whatever we do? And that is how we measure if this is a successful project and I mean if we don't, we can't measure that, it's pointless. It's going to be like it usually is without an investment in someone like you.
So if not, somewhere along the way the leaders haven't all gotten on the same page and said we are together and we're going to take a new course, slightly at least, with these elements that are fairly traditional and strategy. And then, if the people that actually are doing the work don't really understand it or even know about it, that's a problem in awareness. And if no one’s doing it, obviously it's been a just a big, gigantic waste of time.
You know some of the examples that you have and whatever you're comfortable sharing, I would love you to share those examples to the audience, any of them. For example, what you mentioned if you take the leaders somewhere to create a new process or whatever, and then they don't cascade it to the team, their teams. It doesn't work. So what do we do?
We first encourage them to do so and we give them tools to be able to. Because sometimes they say, well, I don't know how to do this, which is perfectly normal. So we have two internal communication departments help to teach them how to do that and help them do it.
And then we give them stuff, something material to have in their hands. So this, this is a really pushy part because you have a kit to deploy this with your team and this is burning, you know? You have to use it and you have to sit them and make communication matter in this meeting. And start a conversation with your team about it and then you have to upload the picture of that meeting and you have to show it to everybody. And this is contagious, you know.
You see, well this person is doing this, other colleagues of mine are doing it. Well, I have to do it because they have done it this week. So to deploy this with my people, I cannot be left behind.
So we put different strategies to help them do it. And when they do it, they say well, it was great doing it. I wasn't going to do it because I was not used to doing that. But once I did it, I said, well that's great, I'm going to do this a lot more often now.
Just sit with your people, listen to them, see what they think about it, what they understand, what you're saying, and see a different mindsets. Because when you say something, the other person might understand something completely different. We are not empty, clean canvas. So we compare whatever it is everybody is saying to us with what we have in our minds. So it's a great exercise to do that, to say: Oh, what did you get from what we talked about? What's the important key from what we discussed?
I think one of the clear examples that you have is sometimes financial leaders feel like everyone should understand the financials. Sometimes they hide them, which is even worse. But you know the next option is to present them in a way that people start to doze off in a minute and if they're part of a 3 1/2 hour meeting. There's a lot of people that are mentally fading.
So I love, I love this example you have. Could you share a little bit about that financial example?
Well, this is something that happens in many companies. Normally CFO's speak in a certain language that regular people don't understand. They talk about IBITDA or other technical spreadsheets that most don't know what they are. I mean I'm not a number person, but I started learning that the rest of the people in the organization, they're usually not that familiar with these things. And sometimes in internal meetings, town halls, and presentations, some people in the financial world speak in that manner. So that means we don't get to understanding and there's somewhere we need to understand, which is: are we doing good or are we doing bad in this area? In this company? In this region?
In one example of Absecon, we transformed in the town hall meeting the CFO into the weatherman, a moment which we made like a sketch. We presented an idea of a town hall meeting which was like Saturday Night Live, so like the show in the US. And one of the sketches was: let's present a CFO as the weatherman.
So we could understand very, very easily how the numbers are doing and also doing joining in a way where there's a lot of fun. So when you present the numbers and we also made a speech like very simple. And there's a sunshine in there. Well, we're doing great. And then if there is a storm, then we're not doing so well. And then he would explain why, but they would understand and pay attention. This was a great way for people to understand and we did that in many other forms, in other companies too. Let people get in the business. To get their minds in, well, we need to work harder or we should celebrate to really get inside what is going on.
So on that particular example it seems like the key element was there are various ways that individuals and maybe even the information or roles are creating a communication that's not as effective as it could be and you are asking what would the most effective way for that information to grab attention is?
That person interacts with the others, the other people they're trying to communicate with and so kind of flip it, flip the natural way that it has been happening on its head and put it in a skit. That is the antithesis, the exact opposite of that broken CFO way that they're communicating in. That's a fun way to kind of make them transition and change and morph into a better way.
Is that what you were doing in that case?
Well, something we always say about change in change agency is that we need “the punch in the eye,” you know? (Maybe sounds differently in the US). What we want, we mentioned, what we mean by that is the punch in the eye is let's call your attention to this. Because attention is what we are competing with right now because we can't always hold the attention of the people. So in order to get them aware of something, or understanding something or adopting something? We need to catch their attention. This way of using “extreme creativity” or doing something disruptive in a campaign catches your attention. And then maybe you like what you see and you get involved and you get amused with what the company is doing and really feel identified with it. So this is how we start communicating. It’s something we try to do all the time. That's why we have so many people on the team from the advertisement world, not only from the communication world.
What other types of categories of communication within a company aren't doing so great?
Before the employer, branding was something that was done as an external communication and now the walls between the external and the internal are very thin and very transparent. So because people are looking for authentic communication and the most authentic thing is people from within the company saying what it is like to work here (publicly). So if you are thinking about, well, which company do you want to be, do we want to apply to? Well, I'm going to go to this company which I like. What the people in there are doing or saying and not an advertisement, which says, “We're great! We're the best employers!” or whatever they say well. So I'm going to listen to the people inside.
You're not going to say any lies if you know the person or not going to be fanatic for no reason. So we are working with them to say, well you're proud of this company. Say it out loud. We encourage you to say out loud, and maybe this is something that is not happening and we are helping people.
Well, I and sometimes they say, well, I never thought about that, never thought about saying that out loud on LinkedIn for example. And now I'm starting to do it. Anything you have to. Tell people how does it work? Why is it so good for them? What are the benefits so that they can see? You're aware, understanding and adopting.
What are the challenging moments that you face?
Well, sometimes when we start projects that are like huge, many people say in the in the listening part of the project, well, we are now going to be able to do this. That happens a lot.
“Now we are such a huge company, we won't be, we are not going to be able to deploy all these to transform like that. This is for small companies, For more agile companies, we're huge. There's too many people that it's not going to have the mindset.”
And what we do there is try to be empathetic to those people and to show them. Data you know to show them this is, this is something we did for example for a company that was um, having a new method of doing things in in the agile movement and they said that they said we're not going to be able to transform in that way.
So what we did with was we took a character, we put a disguise. In one of the directors, board directors, we made him dress as V from Vendetta and this is someone who's just like everything is wrong, this is not going to work. And so we in the middle of a presentation, we cut the transmission. And it was like a virus, like in your computer. Something appeared and it was this person dressed and it was his director with this speech that we made for him and he was saying, do you think this is going to work? This is not going to work because of this, because of that, and we are not going to be able to do it and it was like very shocking.
And then when the transmission finished. Someone from the board of directors said, do you think this is not going to work? I'm going to prove you wrong. This is the numbers of all the things we are doing right now, the projects, the people involved, the teams involved, the results that we're getting. And so you start. You stop your mind, which is in a way, from saying this is not going to work. This is going to sell me this, but this is not going to work. You stop it because someone wasn't pathetic and told you, well someone is hearing me. Someone is in my mind and knowing what I think and is proving me with facts and with people involved that this is working. Of course, this is starting in a small part, but this is growing. They're showing me this. So this is the way we started to get more people involved.
And how did we realize that some people were thinking this in a project with many countries, we sent a challenge to do and not too many people were responding. So we said, well, something's wrong. Not so many people are hearing this, are not embracing this. So let's hear people so we can know what you're thinking about it. So we started hearing people, we knew what they were thinking and we did this initiative. So then things started to change. But sometimes you have to make a stop in your project because sometimes it doesn't go the way you want it to go sometimes. You have to stop, recalculate and redo what you had planned and improvise sometimes and make it happen.
Well, when you have a communication with a client that the first time it just doesn't quite take, as much as you wanted. It doesn't get as much attention or acknowledgement as you hoped. What we do is rethink what we did. In this case, for example, we realized that it doesn't work because we measured. Many times people do campaigns, do initiatives of communication and they never realize if it worked or not. If you start measuring, you understand that well, this is not working, so we stop and listen to people. We do a focus group, we do a survey, we do whatever to understand what is it that we're dealing with. What are people thinking about this? I mean, like in life you have a plan and then you change it along the way. So sometimes we do that too, if you haven't done surveys or you haven't done a pulse, a quiz or something like that. You at least have to ask for some of the evidence and learn why it really is. And it's not just a perception.
Yeah, totally. And it does require talking and listening to new people.
It did in my personal life. I mean, in my search for what I wanted to do, I started listening to people and when I had no job I said, what am I going to do? And one, dear colleague of mine said give me a great advice and she said well you have to meet people, well most of what you do. And you have to meet people and talk about them and about what you do and what they do and what they see of you. And she set me up with someone in with someone in the human resources in Turner just to talk. And she set me up with someone else, and this person set me up with someone else. And in that journey, I learned a lot of what I wanted to do. I started shaping my company. I discovered things about myself that I wasn't seeing and also I met my business partner, I met Juan which is one of my business partners and in these interviews.
So it was funny because I was saying when I told him I at that moment I already had some pretty robust idea of what I wanted. And he said, well, all of that does sound good. He said, she said, you do, I have no idea how to do that, but I know how to do everything else that you say you don't. You don't know how to do it? So we said, well, it's just something together. So then we started change and then we added another business partner who is also named Carolina and that's the three of us, so.
What were what were your strengths that he didn't have?
Mostly in the creative department. Mostly. Thinking very drastic and he comes from, he was a former director of J Walter Thompson. The ad agency and so he knows he's great at what he does. He does kybosh rules and find great ideas, disruptive ideas. In our mind that is not internal communication. I had a mind really set up internal communications, so when we got that together my mind of internal communication and his in in something disruptive for communication that we could create something different, which is what I wanted to do, make a better level of creativity for internal communication. Because I knew that things in the conventional way of doing internal communication where not working as well as they could.
Because you didn't have that punch in the eye, you didn't have that attention. Now more than ever, you need to pull people's attention. You don't have people's attention. Embrace that creativity and to do it for purpose, not only for being disruptive. It's not that we want to be disruptive, we want to do it for a reason. We want to do it because we need to be effective to get a goal. You should get that you're trying to get a new idea into people's minds, not that I just have a bunch of fun and distract people from work. You're trying to direct them to the new idea.
What are some of the most important things, steps that that you would recommend.
Well, the first thing is to listen and also share the vision that you have. I mean, if you're the owner of a company and you want to make it greater, you want, you have to share and the image of this company in the future and the role of the people now.
In this future picture, you have to share it with people once or normally because normally you don't share it well. Normally, you give it to yourself and then you argue about how do they think about this and do I think about that. I mean you have to share that and then listen to them when you listen to people and when you understand what you are thinking and you get answering to them, you create more confidence in the group. And if you create confidence in in your work group, that's the best thing to get more effective, I mean to get more productive and to be happier at. Work, I mean we're all the time at work, all the time that we are aware that we are at work. We have to be in a happy place, should be. If we can get that vision and gets us an aim to point at and pursuit becomes exciting rather than drudgery and just a paycheck, I think it's excellent.
So on the second step when you're measuring awareness. How do you measure people are aware of those ideas? I usually would walk around the companies and talk to people. Then with the pandemic was more complicated. I mean, I was in the car, in my car going to a company to another like three or four hours a day. Now we usually use surveys and we use focus groups, but we use a lot some internal communication platforms. There are many. You have Interact, which is very well known in in the US. You have Slack, you have workplace, you have Intellectual, there are many. It works like a social media but for work and in this way we can measure a lot, not only because we can have pulse survey there, but also because, for example, we were talking about it.
For example, if we were talking about the importance of compliance in a company and we started on values and being honest and being right about the way you behave in the company. So we started that with a picture of someone. You're going to think it's very weird this, but in Argentina it makes a lot of sense. Someone that dropped the wallet and someone found it, What would you do? It was the question. So people started. So people started saying, well, that happened to me and no one said it gave me anything back or someone gave me it but without the money and someone gave it. But I would give it without touching it. I would do that. I would do this. So that started a whole conversation. So that's a way for us to measure, well, this is something people are interested in.
Or maybe in the way that we put it? They are interested in and then there was that was a warm up for starting to talk about the manual for conduct and the well-being in the well conduct in the company and the compliance and everything so. That was the start of the campaign. So very, very simple, practical example to kind of start things off and see if there's an engagement. If there's no engagement, no one cares, then maybe it's not the right value to pick. This worked a lot. As you get the people to do some of these things.
What are some of the most effective ways you've been able to aid? Yeah, actually do it? Which what the change is.
What we did was get to the people and what they think. Where invited to say, what do we need to incorporate in our code of conduct? Why do you think it's important that we all do that? We all take care. Sometimes we do like a trick and we send you like an e-mail.
Sending an email like that is a trick, but it's made by the company to see if you get hooked there or not and then you have the learnings of that and work on that person.
And then maybe your adoption is a different task for you to let other people know how they did think one doesn't have to do this but now sees why. If maybe it's the same employee in selfie mode, recording themselves saying, well, I have a tip for you not to fall in these traps. And it is that when you receive something like this, you may think you don't have to do this or you don't have to do that then we nominate them to ask: Who am I going to nominate as someone else in the company to do this and nominates someone else to deliver another tip. So that starts a chain of people, the same employees. It's not the company communicating to them in it’s voice, it's the employees communicating between themselves and getting each other wiser about this subject. And we can apply that to many other projects.
That's terrific. So you referred to some of those things earlier I think as “challenges” that you find challenges to send out and see if people do these creative things and you get to see if there is adoption and application in doing is that is that how you talk about it?
Yeah, totally. There's those who are, “Yeah, those are challenges like the ice bucket challenge or stuff like that.” So people get involved and actually do things. It's really great. When a leader is an entrepreneur or a very professional CEO and they get excited about the purpose and have time to think about it. Often they're bright people and they think about it quite often.
Other times, they don't transmit the message to the rest of the team. And sometimes that team can be hundreds of thousands of people. Sometimes, even if it's just 300 people, it's difficult to gain action.
Tell me a little bit generally about how you might disseminate what you really do as a company if you're talking to clients, and how you make that cascade.
Well, if you have a leader with a clear strategy and a clear vision in his or her mind. Where is it? In this case, it’s in his or her mind. You have to really get it out of there and into other minds. When you put something out, it's not that there's a white canvas in other people's minds. There's always a lot of noise and stuff there.
So you start feeling it out with whatever you can to connect with what the other person is saying. It's really important to work on the narrative of what you want to accomplish. And it's the same as with us people, with what we do, what do we care about? You can know what I care about. When you say, well, where do you put your money? Where do you put your resources? Where do you put your time? Let’s say I put a lot of time on any project, I put money and I put all the best people that I want and I keep on talking about that. The message is this is something I really care about. So you have to dedicate time, resources, money to whatever is that is important for you and they, too, have to put their narritive out there. And well, we have a strategy for transmitting, for communicating with people, important projects, important visions, mission purpose in a company, in a company, in a family. I mean we usually work with big companies (like you) with many, many employees, but it applies to an ordinary couple also. You have to first call the attention of those people to get it out. We like punched them in the eye (in a friendly way) with a great idea, so that the idea could call their attention to the priority and because this is what we're competing now with people for—attention. It's really hard to get people’s focus in a substantial way. So we need to get this attention to say: well this is something that you could care about. This is something that's coming up for the company that is a breakthrough idea that we want to accomplish, that we want to do.
And when you do that?
You have to start hearing also: what did you get of what we said? Now what? Even in a conversation, what did you understand what were wev talking about? And you would be surprised with the answers because sometimes people understand something very different. It's not wrong. It's not good or bad. I mean it has to do with what they already have in their minds about that subject.
So the first step for us, what we do, how we help companies, is to develop a [communication] strategy. First, we need people like you to help them [upgrade business strategy]. And we need people to endorse it [both]. We need people to say, OK let's go with this idea. Let's go for it and we are going to support you then this punch in the eye (playfully get their vision) of the awareness moment where we get people to have such attention and once you get people's attention then you need the people to understand what we are talking about and that demands time.
If this is a breakthrough idea, if this is something that's going to change the company, then you need to talk about it and put it in the agenda for a lot of time. That's the way in which you're going to say, well this is something important for the company because they are talking about it, they are hearing us talk about it. They are making an event. They are asking me. I am talking with my boss about it. And then they are trying to make sure that I understand. What is in it for me?
Yes, this is the third step that you understand that you understand how is this going to change our reality? How can we pass from the vision to the action? Then the last time, the last step, has to do with adoption. We need people to adopt this new reality. How do we do that? We make them [in a sense, we get bold]. We get them involved in activities in the way that they could nurture what we are talking about. This vision that they can participate in something, put something out from themselves, and so that they stop hearing and being understanding. And start acting on it.
If we at the end of the road, if we can say, well, we had people backing us up for that. We have people saying, well, we heard about this, we heard a lot about this thing. And we understood what was there for us, how this is going to change the company. Obviously, it's going to change the market. How it’s going to change the relationship in my team and many more things. And then, well, I got involved because I put something of myself in there. I made this bigger with something [from me]. Well, if we could do that, then we had a good strategy that worked.
Let's talk about the biggest one like five years out, we go away as a leadership team. We create a vision of how we're going to upgrade or change for the better how we serve customers. When you are talking about things that big, what are some of the ways that you would gain inception for all? You know, get the lower level and the broad set of employees to understand that vision the leadership has seen in their own mind.
You have to get the emotion in the mix because how do people buy things, buy ideas, buy anything? You make decisions with the part of the brain that manages the emotions. So you have to get the emotion there so people can have a match with what they feel with this purpose. So what we always get in the plan is someone that you care about, to talk to you about that, to have a conversation, not only talk because when you say talk, it's when one direction on this. It has to be a two-way communication. So we always put some dynamics some games something to play. And to talk about while you play with your team so you can understand at the same time what is it that your boss or the people on your team think about this? And you hear what everyone has to say and you can build a new image together.
Let's say for example, you have a new mission, ambition and new values for the company. So you can say, one of the values is to be natural or to be on time, for example. Well, to be on time, it's not the same for everybody. To be on time could be I am going to go across the door of the building at 8:00 in the morning. And some other people could be, well, I I'm already on my computer working with my coffee done. And for other people it doesn't matter the time. I am delivering to my client, to my inner client, inside the company, outside the company, whatever. On time, it doesn't matter where I see it, what time, what time I cross the entrance of the company. I mean there are different ways of understanding it. So this conversation is really valuable.
So bigger, we can all get together at the same mission with practical and simple examples that we all understand how important it is. And it's not the same. What maybe I had in mind, is nurtured. What I had in my mind and I made it bigger. And fired the reward centers [of my mind] and enjoy what we're doing to understand and tell you.
It’s not enough to say, wow, that's really attractive to me as an individual employee. I think I'm going to be part of this team emotionally now, Is that right?
Yeah, exactly. And so exactly what you said about flexibility also because. Everything that you do with human beings has to be flexible with all the plans that we have, the strategies. They're never done, finished the same way they were planned. We have measurement moments all the time, and we are all the time trying to see, this is working now, this is not working well. We're going to do this other thing to make this part work and well, this is going really well. Maybe this could be enhanced with something else and we're all the time seeing this because we have an idea of how the how the project is going to be developed, but sometimes we have surprises, good surprises, bad surprises. I mean it, all the time. It's the way it is and it's really great and it's always a nice surprise to see how people are evolving with the project and making this project once you got it, once you understood it.
The part when you want to be part of it, it's really nice to see that part and, of course, it’s a transformational moment. A project when we're talking about culture, when we are talking about communication or digital transformation. And there are some people that don't want to follow, I mean or they are the lazy adopters and on the contrary of the early adopters. And well, we have to know that this is part of the equation.
We have to help the stubborn a little more to get it, I mean. We don't have to be, we don't have to think, this is not working because some groups are not contemplating the project the way we are thinking of it.
You have to find ways to tease it out of those laggards and people can. But then they nominate themselves and sometimes say, well, I'm really fond of this, I want to participate. And these people we are going to cherish them. And we are going to give them the prime news of what we're doing so they can help us be enthusiastic with other teams. They can help us communicate in bigger teams because when we are talking about 10,000 people in a company, you really need many, many people to help you get the message there. There is no team in HR or communications that is big enough.
We always need people that will spread the ideas besides what they do every day. Maybe they're a lawyer or they're in finance, or they're in administration, or whatever they are, they also have a part of themselves that say, well, I really like communication. I really like culture. I really like technology. I want to help and sometimes even they help other teammates to adopt a new technology or they help them participate in something because they don't know how or they are afraid or whatever. And then they get enthusiastic together. What are you doing in Agile that you're communicating? Going agile in a company is transforming your mindset.
For example, Agile is transforming your culture. So we what we do is we help the company to communicate better so. You can get this transition from a non-agile mindset to an agile mindset. So the transition you're usually focusing on is transitioning. That and sometimes, I mean the agility world is very big and you can pick things from that to enhance your company's performance.
And let's say for example, one company that we work with, they said, well, we want short-term meetings 25-minute meetings only. We want only five slides. PowerPoint presentations only, no more than five slides. We want many things. They had like 10-point agile changes that they wanted to accomplish in the first stage. They were like really simple, but simple to say and difficult to implement. And if so, if you are doing something, you don't have to wait until it is completely done. So you can deliver. You have to show it, for them to see the “minimal valuable product” (MVP).
So then you go making enhancements to that, focused on exactly what you want to get done and then you make enhancements and it makes you rethink things in a completely different way. And so you're in the business of trying to change those minds and get them to grasp the new paradigm and gain indication for that. There's no way you can just say it once and have it magically happen. When you started the next day, you started doing these things exactly the same, as you should do, unless…you keep on talking about it in the understanding phase where you say, well, you could do this PowerPoint 85 slides, but not anymore. Cut it off. I mean, you have to have five slides. If you can't explain it in five slides, you cannot explain it.
So if you cannot achieve what you need in a 25-minute meeting, you cannot achieve it. So when you start doing that and you start showing it with examples from leaders, from the champions, from say the agility champions and you start seeing the results, the same people are going to be able to achieve more and should deliver more, to add more value to the customer.
What made you get into this business? It's a very unusual sort of business.
I started this without really, at that moment, knowing why I was getting in this. And now with the years gone by, now, I started realizing why I got here. All the people in my family…that. You can say this could totally be fixed with communication, with better communication and now looking backwards, I understand that maybe this is why I got into communication.
Yeah, well, you're not alone. I mean, every family deals with it, even the greatest families. But it's a process. You know the most beautiful thing is to work a lifetime and connecting with all of the members of a family and you may barely pull it off or maybe not in this life. But I think it's all about that. And so it's a beautiful thing. It's a great challenge. There's nothing in life worth doing unless it is a great challenge. Can you think of one or two really exceptional outcomes?
All the time. When they do cultural transformation or agile transformation, I mean you can see people get up here fast, yeah. And they get people getting, achieving things faster and with more quality in less time, then you have more time to think strategy. Maybe those innovation results are, in 3-4 years, the best-selling thing in the company. Communication changes things.
Well, I want to thank you for letting me have you on this. Yeah. Thank you so much.
Carolina Dolan, partner at Change Agency in Buenos Aires, voted one of the top female leaders in all of South America. I love in our episode how you ask and answer: “If you have a leader with a clear strategy and a clear vision in his or her mind, where is it? It's in his or her mind. You have to really get it out and get it into the minds of everyone else, or you're not leading work. Work on the narrative, what you want to accomplish, because communication will change things.”
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