‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What is in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell just as sweet.
–Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II
So says Shakespeare’s Juliet, suggesting that the name of Romeo’s family house, Montague, should not be enough to keep them apart.
Romeo likes her suggestion, and replies:
I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
I wonder if the same argument works for change. Would change by any other name be just as [frightful? hopeful? positive? energizing?].
The Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) Standard for Change sensibly states:
Successful communication of the Case for Change occurs when business rationale communications are sufficient enough that each type and level of stakeholder can clearly articulate what is changing, how the change benefits or affects the organization, and how the change affects him or her individually (often referred to as “What’s In It For Me”). (5.2.1)
Prosci suggests much the same in a Change Communication Checklist:
To be effective, communications must get at what an employee cares about and values. To gain their support, you must provide a compelling case for how they will be better off or what they get out of engaging in the change. Answer WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) early and often in your communications.
Were we to heed these recommendations, we might use the word change less and instead focus more often, or more clearly, on some positive attributes or expected outcomes that an individual, group, or firm might realize such as:
achievement, advancement, benefit, capability, competence, contribution, development, expertise, future, gain, growth, improvement, innovation, insight, involvement, know-how, learning, opportunity, potential, proficiency, profit, skills, success, understanding, value, vision.
Of course, these and any words must be authentic, realistic, truthfully used, communicated with aplomb.
To me, they all smell sweeter than change.
Do we use these words enough?
Rose created by Store Black from the Noun Project. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution license.