Many of us have faced circumstances in which we’re struggling to engage key stakeholders – where messages, outreach, or conversations don’t seem to be working. We wish there was a way to awaken them and to viscerally shift how stakeholders see what we’re trying to achieve.
While we’ve studied ways that broadly engage people emotionally, we’ve homed in on an especially effective strategy for activating others around changes we’re guiding. We call it simply: Immersion.
Essentially, Immersion uses specific approaches like unexpected, direct exposure to others, rich immersion in key experiences, or vividly bringing things to life, and applies them to change activation.
To apply Immersion to your change, you can ask several key questions:
- Whose voice do we most need to hear from directly?
- How could we orchestrate a true immersive experience?
- Is there a way to create direct, unfiltered exposure that could powerfully support our change?
- Are there true cross-functional conversations that could be “game-changers?”
A meaningful example of Immersion was exemplified by a utility client that was in the midst of making a huge business pivot to embrace smart grids. They knew they needed to engage their people, at a broad scale, in ways that would bring this future to life.
In addition to classic communication efforts, a team of passionate volunteers outfitted a truck to create a fully immersive experience, like an Expo booth or museum, showing workers across the organization what the actual equipment, technology, new solutions, and contexts in people’s homes actually looked like.
They called the effort “Pop Up Power,” and these volunteers got permission to go on a series of road shows across all their jurisdictions to bring this immersive experience to every location.
This served to further build a movement, where employees across the utility embraced broader change efforts aligned with this future, as well as other changes that were inspired by the emotional power of “experiencing” their future firsthand.
While this can be seen as a grand-scale example of Immersion, you can apply Immersion to your change in smaller, concrete ways by:
- Asking key voices to create short videos to help shape a moment for others
- Putting together demos or walk-throughs instead of a slide deck
- Inviting especially compelling, outside-in stakeholders to join live conversations
- Curating multi-sensory site visits
- Leveraging the “power of place” by staging events in symbolic or awe-inspiring locations
Most stakeholders won’t be inspired to align to a change or help if you appeal to logic alone. You must also consider how people feel and what kind of experience or message will immerse them in your cause. And Immersive experiences will give them even more reason to believe in a future they can see.
You can take a deeper dive into this principle and learn more by registering for Kotter’s seminal certification course, Foundations of Change: https://www.kotterinc.com/learning-development/change-certification-program/foundations-of-change/.