Great Change Communications

Photography for Change Communications

Change Communications has become a discipline in its own right as organisations attempt to change with ever greater frequency and speed. It is the very nature of these change programmes, that require change communications to be simple, surgically accurate and quick to comprehend, that means photography has an important role to play.

I recently read that there are over 57,000 photos taken every second, that’s 1.8 trillion per year. The same report also stated: Users share the most images on WhatsApp: 6.9 billion per day. 3.8 billion images are shared on Snapchat daily and 1.3 billion images are shared on Instagram.

That surprised me, but it suggests that people prefer using and sharing photos to tell stories to their friends and family, as opposed to broadcasting them to a greater number of unknown ‘followers’. This also supports an article I read last year which claimed that we find sharing photos with friends to be a more enjoyable experience than sharing with an audience who we don’t have a relationship with.

Change Communications at GLH Hotels Thistle Brand. Waiter serving wine.

Photographs as a shorthand for communications

It also demonstrates that visual storytelling is embedded into everyday life for billions of people globally and that we are using photography to build and strengthen relationships by sharing experiences and using photographs as a shorthand.

As an article in the Oxford University Press stated: ‘Experiences are also widely shared with others, not only through written and verbal communication, but increasingly through photos.’

Perhaps it is a subconscious motive but we also appear to share this shorthand as a kind of proof. A proof of where we are and what we are doing, or what someone else did.

I have a friend who shares photos of meals with their partner as if it is not enough to say that the meal was delicious. I have another friend who sends me photos of glorious mornings or evenings in the part of the world he lives in. And so we see there is:

  • A desire to share and involve others.
  • A need to offer some sort of proof.

Isn’t this the same for Change Programmes?

Isn’t it a core objective to share progress and involve others through the change experience? And isn’t it also true that people are persuaded of progress, and then get on-board, when they see evidence of change in action?

Using photography to deliver Kotter’s Change Model

If organisations aren’t using Kotter’s model of change, then they are probably using a variation of it.

John Kotter, Harvard Professor and author of Leading Change, states there are eight steps to successful change within organisations:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build and guiding coalition of people
  3. Form a strategic vision
  4. Enlist a volunteer army – change champions
  5. Remove barriers
  6. Generate short term wins – progress
  7. Build momentum – communication
  8. Embed into culture and BAU

Photography can help organisations to achieve points 4, 6, 7 and 8.

Enlist Change Champions

Once a business has formed its strategic vision the next step is to communicate it, which is storytelling. This is a story that needs to be told to the whole organisation but specifically to the ‘volunteer army’, which most of my clients tend to call change champions or change agents.

Celebrate Short Term Wins

Short-term wins demonstrate to the organisation that progress is being made. For those who might be apathetic to change it’s important to shift perceptions and here visual evidence of change is more effective than words that can easily be dismissed.

Build Momentum with Stories

Through visual storytelling and regular updates about activity – workshops, launches, meetings, presentations, testing, new equipment, new surroundings – you can create the storyboard of the change, track the journey and help everyone to see their place in the vision.

Illustrate Change through all touchpoints

As the drumbeat of change communications builds, the change objectives start to embed into ways of working, culture and daily operations. This might mean that existing touchpoints, such as induction, training and other forms of communication need to be updated to reflect the changes that have been made.

Read more about photography as a business tool here.