If change were easy, we would have new marketing that is interesting, new topics at conferences and events, and plenty of new ideas and novel executions to feed on. We would also have little room for echo chambers. The truth is that change is easier to talk about than it is to do. Execution is vital, and willingness is crucial.
A few years ago, Fast Company was undergoing a lot of change. In many ways it and plenty of other publications still are. Change was one of the topics they chronicled. There was a whole series of articles and conversations dedicated to change. Yet, when change became necessary it was hard to implement. Remember Alan Deutschman's book Change or Die?
The client tells you that they'd like to see something very different. "We've been doing the same old thing for years," they tell you, "why don't you show us something else?" The trouble with that is often something else is quite vague. It means anywhere from "I'll know it when I see it," to "it does not look like something we'd do and say." Or, in the best of circumstances, the answer has been staring them in the face for years. They just need you, a third party, to tell them it will work. Be prepared to fight them on it, it will look and sound too easy. It's not. Execution matters.
All leadership comes down to this: changing people's behavior. Why is that so damn hard? Writes Deutschman. What happens when it is the leader who does not want to change? When he is hiding behind the idea of wanting to make a clean breast of things while he is paying lip service to giving the example. That is tricky territory. Change is not a prescription you give to others.
Choice gives us the illusion of change. I cannot recall when was the last time that an agency could propose only one recommendation. Richard Huntington at Adliterate puts it so well: we are spoiled by choice. Having lots of options only means delaying the moment of truth, when we will need to make a decision on direction. Would you much rather be exactly wrong or be surprising and interesting? Your choice.