How to create positive change in your business

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If you really want to make a difference, you’ll need to be flexible, persistent and know your purpose, writes Peter Gilheany, director, Forster Communications.

Decide on your mission

Business might be good, but are you a good business? If you want to create positive change, you need to start with your own purpose as an organisation; develop and articulate the difference you want to make and ensure that mission is part of what you do as a business. That mission might be linked into the sector you work in, or the service or products you provide, but it doesn’t have to be. The most important thing is that it is something you believe in and you can discern a role for your business in achieving.

Think ‘goal’, but plan the journey

If positive change was easy, we’d all be at it. Achieving your mission might seem incredibly remote which is why it’s so important to sketch out some significant milestones on the journey there. These mini victories are wonderful for motivation, as well as being important opportunities to sit up and evaluate your approach.

Work out who needs to be involved and what they need to do

Positive change comes in many forms, from the modest and local such as increasing levels of wellbeing amongst your own staff, through to tackling societal issues such as poverty and climate change. What unites these is the need to involve and inspire others. If you want to create change, you need to understand who needs to be engaged and what you want them to do as a result. That needs to start from the inside out, with your staff, suppliers and other stakeholders, through to clients and other audiences.

Each needs to be sold on the mission, understand the difference they can make and feel ownership for that change and the campaign built around it. If you want to create positive change, you must be ready to cede ownership of any campaign around it. People will only take positive action if they feel empowered by the opportunity to do so. People being people, you need to present the opportunity in a way that piques their personal interests or passions, which won’t be exactly the same as yours.

In many cases, this goes beyond the individual and requires the support and action of organisations. The same approach needs to apply – make sure they see the role they can play, the difference they can make, and how they can feel ownership for it, so they can play an active role in the development of a movement or a campaign. A movement needs to be inclusive and generous otherwise it risks never inspiring beyond the footprint of your own organisation and networks. If the positive change you want to make is ambitious, you will need the help and support of people and organisations beyond your immediate influence.

Change direction when needed

The road to positive change is rarely smooth – stuff happens, things go wrong and as soon as you involve more than one person, it is subject to the vagaries of human nature and subjectivity. Don’t be pig-headed about what you are trying to do, change your approach if it isn’t working or has run out of steam. Listen to the advice of others, particularly those who have the same passionate commitment to the mission as you, and change tack.

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Photo credit: Vince Alongi from Flickr

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