The work we do here at Results involves transformational change. In fact, you might call us change agents. Our clients want to improve their strategic thinking, succession plans, innovation portfolios, talent management processes, and a variety of other systems to unleash the potential of their organizations.  These all require some type of fundamental change in their businesses, and in all cases once a decision is made and a direction set, they must implement the next phase – execution. 

Some change projects follow established processes.  In my years with a multi-national telecommunications manufacturer, I followed a well-established and documented process for introducing new products.  The product concept would move through ‘gates’ passing from marketing to product line management, and then to engineering, design and finally manufacturing.  Typically this involved hundreds of people and aligned all communication, training and dependent systems prior to launch. And if a product idea didn’t meet all the criteria to pass a gate, more work would need to be done or the project was cancelled. 

This is an example of a change process with a lot of certainty and few surprises.  But most changes in organizations are not as certain; they involve something that’s never been done before with no established process to follow.   

What do we do when we want to implement a change, and we don’t have a process to follow? 

The Influencer Model

In 2013, Joseph Grenny and his colleagues at VitalSmarts released the book, Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change. With a strong focus on the people aspects of change, it introduces a 6-part model for helping to successfully execute changes in organizations. 

The Influencer approach begins by first defining the vital behaviors ; those things we’d like to see people doing differently after the change.  For any change project, leaders must begin with crystal clarity of the desired behaviors after the project. 

From there, the model poses the question, “OK, so if we want people to behave that way, what inputs are required?”  The simple answer is that people need both motivation and ability, and within each of these categories there are three elements or action sets that can be put in place as follows: 


  • Creating Motivation
    1. Make the Undesirable Desirable – paint a picture of the ‘why’.  Define why the change is necessary and how things will be better for the organization AND for individuals personally in the future.
    2. Harness Peer Pressure – look for ways to make visible how others in the organization are embracing the new realities, or at least progressing towards it.  No one wants to be left behind.
    3. Design Rewards and Demand Accountability – find creative ways to design rewards as people adopt new behaviors and learn, while at the same time keeping score and holding individuals accountable to their own progress.
  • Creating Ability
    1. Surpass your Limits – over invest in learning to ensure everyone has the knowledge and skills to operate in the new way. 
    2. Find Strength in Numbers – create a support system for people to learn and grow.  Make it OK to fail if failure is a step towards developing the new behavior. 
    3. Change the Environment – add resources, tools, and job aids that remind, direct and support people to operate in the new way. 

Examples are instructive here, and there is no better example than the one portrayed in this Youtube video by Grenny’s son Hyrum.

For any change project, if you can use four or more of these action sets the chances of having a successful implementation is much higher. 

Case Study: Our Experience here at Results

In the spring of 2019 we chose to change our CRM and Digital Marketing platforms from Salesforce (and various other tools) to Hubspot.  This was a major project involving data migration from several disparate systems into one, new ways of doing things (process design), user training and adoption tracking. 

Our goal was that following implementation, these would be the vital behaviors that would exist in the organization: 

  • Every team member logging all communication with customers in Hubspot – calls, meetings, emails 
  • Every team member using Hubspot to schedule future activities:
    • Who to invite to events
    • What next steps do we have (and when) with leads, prospects and opportunities (deals) in the sales pipeline to advance them
  • Managers using reporting from Hubspot to assess performance and to hold people accountable

Armed with this prework, we were then able to create a change project with the following elements using the Influencer Model:

Was this a perfectly executed change project? Of course not, but I’m certain that if we had not used this model to plan and implement the change, we would have had far less success and be much further behind than we are now. Today, 9 months later, we are seeing the vital behaviors demonstrated consistently and beginning to further utilize the feature set of our new technology platform. 

Comment below: What are your experiences with change projects, both successes and failures? 

Article by Tim O’Connor