Change management program

Axa Tech - 2014-2015

Session #4 - Storytelling techniques

Storytelling is a long-lasting human passion that helps us make sense out of unrelated events.

OUR OBJECTIVE in a corporate environment :

  • engaging our teams in one compelling adventure
  • being able to communicate to the whole company in a simple and impactful way the transformation you are undergoing

What’s a story?

We recognize one when we see one, but it’s not always easy to define

Definition: a speech on a series of causes and consequences that take the world from one stance to another = A WAY TO UNDERSTAND A CHANGING WORLD

Each time you try to explain how we got here and what is going to happen in the future, you tell a story :

- Linda got promoted

- Our competitors are about to buys us

- We didn’t achieve our monthly objectives, but in fact, it isn’t a problem

5 ingredients for a good story

1/ Initial stance = ONCE UPON A TIME

- A world where everything is fine : ex ASTERIX. The story : returning to the harmony

- A world where everything is awful : ex MATRIX, prisoners of a virtual reality. The story : changing the world

- A world with bad and good, like in real life

2/ Trigger = BUT ONE DAY

That’s’ what puts the story into action. Creates a disequilibrium with the initial stance

- Asterix : the Romans have a plan to destroy the Gaul village

- Neo : discovers his whole life is a lie

3/ Development

The hart of the story, the series of actions and reactions

4/ Conclusion

The dragon is dead… The series of actions comes to an end, the story comes to its final destination


The world reach a new equilibrium: we can leave it there and close our book.

How to make a good story great

All stories have the structure we just mentioned, even the most boring ones… Let’s see how we can work on improving them.


Action is at the heart of the story. But it needs to be motivated, not just arrive out of thin air. In a word, we need the characters to be concerned about what is going to happen.

See the difference between those 2 examples from business life:

- Next month, we are changing our accounting software

- We have as many software programs than subsidiaries. To get out of this mess, next month we are changing our accounting software.


In an exciting story, there are always obstacles in the way of achieving the desire. Otherwise there is no story…

Which extract is the most engaging?

- We launched this tablet, it was avant-garde technology. We droped out our competitors and became market leaders after 2 years

- We launched this tablet, it was avant-garde technology, but it wasn’t adapted to our client’s needs. It was a massive fail. We took a step back, rethought totally our offer to make it client-centric. Two years after its launch, we were market leaders.


In good stories, you always have a hero. Sometimes quite ordinary, but he is unique, with is qualities and defaults, and it’s because we learn to know him that we feel sympathy.

Again, two extracts:

- We are an organization of farmers. We are implementing communication actions to promote our products grown through organic farming.

- We are an organization of grumpy farmer from Aveyron, nearly retired, and we have grand-kids that claim we can’t both do organic farming while respecting our traditions. We are annoyed and have decided to prove them wrong.


One ingredient often missing from corporate speeches.

Let’s try and communicate both competence AND passion.

Who is the most motivating?

- I hear you. However it is an important order and we have to be at 200% tonight to be able to achieve our delivery objective. I count on everybody’s professionalism

- We are all stressed and the idea of working tonight tires everybody. But if we hold on tight all together et manage this very big shot, we will be proud of ourselves.


Every story asks a question. It’s the reason why you stay tuned: you want to know how it ends.

What line will have your audience stay awake?

- I am going to present this year’s financial results, the actual preoccupying tendencies and the inevitable but necessary recovery measures we are planning

- Financially, if we don’t do anything, in 2 years we go bankrupt. How do we prevent this scenario?

Now you both have the structure and the ingredients to make a compelling and engaging story out of the finance process you are undergoing. Time to write a story !


- Finish polishing the story you have chosen during the session

  • On a specific project
  • About the finance transformation
  • To explain how you got here
  • To explain where you want to go

Send it to me for some feedback : we will practice live telling the story during our next session. You might want to put it into a ppt if it is useful (communication purposes)

- Adjust your personal training scope:

  • one objective
  • one timed description of what you are planning to do

session #3 - Best practices and feedback around what occured in light of the tools


  • we are still facing a lot of passiveness and/ or opposition : we need to be more active in building a community of advocates
  • we need to dig out the concrete examples we have, even on "small topics", to give proof points to the teams of the benefits of the transformation process
  • we need to work on "Finance for everybody" communication tools to get all the organization on board of the finance transformation project


Sylvain : gather concrete examples to convince opponents through proof-points + focus on what people are really doing not what you think they are thinking

Joerg : identify individual motivation sources to get everybody aligned on the 2015 objectives and

Shibi : create a community of supporters and helps them relay the transformation project

Eric : work on giving your team a vision of the finance transformation process at a right level regarding their maturity and impulse engagement

Mark : leverage the postive experience from the modules to bring proof-points of benefits and give show you have tools/ stakeholders to overcome the obstacles (Switzerland)

Nicola : build a program to actively encourage relays

Valérie : help migrate more "passives" to relays

MY FEEDBACK : overall, you are not training enough ! You need to actively practice 'on the field" to see change happen and to develop your set of soft skills. Training needs to be on your agenda to leverage our monthly sessions.


- define a training plan with specific and timed actions

- plan a feedback sessions with your partner

Work-pairs :

Eric + Shibi

Sylvain + Adelia

Joerg + Nicola

Mark + Sylvie

Valérie + Pauline

Session #2 - Identify your team worker’s state of mind and act on it

We started with some learnings from the marshmallow challenge !

Here's the debrief from Tom Wujec, the inventor of the challenge.

(embedded below if you have no access to Youtube...)

Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team

1. What is my motivation to lead change ?


Big image

Good-to-remember :

To impulse change I need to be convinced. I need to find my own source of motivation to undergo a transformation project and lead change.

Exercize :

take one minute to introspect and find one reason in which you really believe to try and convince the group:

- to go scuba-diving

- to write a poem to Valérie

Learnings :

it takes energy and acceptance to scan through a problem/ a situation and identify different ways of looking at it and finding one that is compelling to you.

the most convincing speeches link an objective criteria with an emotional experience (fear, pleasure, challenge, idleness, etc) :

  • diving meters under the sea with / the thrill of danger
  • sunny beach and a luxurious boat under the tropics / the pleasure to lay back confortably
  • a unknow universe / the excitement to discover

2. How can I manage my team's engagement


Big image

Good-to-remember :

  • the mapping pictures the state of the team at time T and should be seen as dynamic : people move on the map, your objective is to grow the supporter community
  • time allocation should be 1/3 to prevent opponents from spreading and 2/3 helping advocates support your project
  • a project does not die because it has opponents, but because it has no supporters
  • opponents regroup naturally, but not advocates : you need to help supporters create a coomunity AND make sure they talk with passives/ undecisives

3. How can I adapt my message to someone


Big image

Good-to-remember : one person doesn't show only one color. According to the situation, the stake, the other people, stress, everybody navigates among the 4 colors. However we often have one dominant color.

This model focusses on the present situation not on defining generally a person (people are complex : every model that tends to classify people should be looked at cautiously)

Role play

- selling cats on Amazon


- practice Profiler tool and try and identify the color of your co-workers

- practice the Ally strategy : map out your team today as for the transformation process + define actions

- write down your vision of the Graal today

Bonus track (in French, English version coming soon...)

  • Discover more about Carl Jung's model on personality archetypes over HERE
  • A couple of exercizes to train Profiling skills HERE and HERE

Session #1 - About the Adventure Strategy (27/01/2015)

Why do people all over the world love stories?

Because life is short, because death is scary and because so many things need understanding. People need stories because they give meaning to our lives.

One of the best ways to get people to engage is to tell them a good story.

In business terms :

  • I feel I am part of an exciting evolution

  • I can tell what I am experiencing

  • I identify how it changed me / my job

And the good surprise is that all over the world it’s basically the same story…

Some interest readings on stories :

The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell (1949)

The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler (2007)

What is this story ???

Let’s take the example of King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table.

The short version…

King Arthur has a problem : the Saxons are about to invade Brittany. They are many and determined. King Arthur knows the best way to fight them off is to unify the Britton Barons against the Saxons. But the Barons have their own interests, do not want to accept a lower place.

LEARNING : it is not because you have a rational efficient solution to your problem that you will be able to solve your problem. It sometimes isn’t enough, or even isn’t the right way to go.

So how do I engage my people into doing something obviously insane? (insane to them, but not regarding the objective)

King Arthur thinks of one thing that will lead all the people to put in common their energy, their resources, to pursue a goal that they long for : the Holy Graal.

Arthur does not call for union among the Barons, he invites them to the quest of the Holy Graal. And de facto they unite. The Graal is a long-lasting quest : it is inspiring, each Knight has his own motivation into the quest, it is unreachable, but the quest and getting closer to the objectif is in itself full of learnings.

LEARNING : how do I ensure that my project benefits to the people in my team? what interest do they have in the project? how do I translate my business objectives in desires?

For example, if my objective is “triple revenue within 3 years”, my team will translate “3 times more work in the coming years”.

Good-to-have in mind : very few people refuse to do something that makes them smarter, that moves them. And somebody who goes back home proud to tell his family what he is doing at work is somebody motivated. How can yo leverage the positive pulsion of people? Have people tell themselves stories.

And then ? Well the Knights go about with their quest… On their way :

  • they fight DRAGONS : a dangerous and challenging obstacle that they are proud to overcome… because it is difficult. Being proud is not correlated to the result but to how difficult it was for a person to achieve.

  • they are helped by a MAGICIAN : a person that gives the Knight the right weapon to succeed. He does not minimize the dragon ( // the problem to solve), he reinforces the Knight ( // he gives people the resources to succeed)

LEARNING : people are proud when they aim at something and when they are able to overcome obstacles they would not have thought they could overcome.

The Adventure Strategy reminds us of what motivates people, what gives them a sense of achievement : it’s good leadership material!

And because the Graal is far away, the story has many episodes ! Move step-by-step...

3 common mistakes about the Adventure Strategy :

  • confuse the objective with the Graal. If it has an end, it probably is a Dragon to overcome, rather than the Graal itself

  • weaken the Dragons. You should rather strengthen the Knight.

  • as a Magician, act the part of the Knight : he must solve the problem. The Magician does not act, he helps out.

A first brainstorm around your Graal

what came up during the session

AXA TECH is a finance-driven organization.

AXA TECH is about technology, not tools.

AXA TECH, your best friend for…

Doing something that has never been done successfully before : THE GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION

AXA TECH, the trusted business enabler

AXA TECH, the trusted partner to make commercial decision

AXA TECH, the most-respected & indispensible for it’s value add

AXA TECH, the preferred support-function team

Finance is a high-skilled regionless business

AXA TECH is AXA’s best friend (always more value provided to the organization)


to do for next session - 12/02/2015

Continue to think about what could be an inspiring Graal for AXA TECH today :

  • review the existing propositions and push them further

  • write one or two new propositions

  • try and write a short pitch (3 lines) to describe your Graal

Review your Graal and its description : what are the 3 things that really motivate you personally ? Attention : NO bullshit…!

1st part - 5th sept 2014 - Experiment and understand the changing process

Impro / games:

- Assertive walking

- pair up

- form letters

- Collective photos

- Impro platform: two characters meet without any link between them: what's going on?

- Fairy tales

- Card games with different rules

The gist of what we learned:

=> To reach pleasure and performance, I must ignore the fear of failure ("It's fun to fail" is the Impro motto).

=> If my motivation to improvise comes from outside (Do it because the others do, Do it to because otherwise you'll be seen as rebel, etc), I cannot improvise properly. My motivation has to come from inside (Do it to challenge yourself, Do it because it is fun, Do it because it is useful to me or to the team, etc).

Leadership = deal with the motivational/emotional part of management.

A team worker with an inside motivation is far more productive and easy to manage than a team worker fed by an outside motivation.

We also saw:

1/ That explaining why change is meaningful is overdue but not sufficient because of emotional brakes

2/ That human beings tend to fear about unknown future pain rather than possible opportunities. Rational approach (e.g. 'You'll see it's gonna be great") is not understandable for our emotional chemistry.

3/ That the motivation to change MUST come from inside (free choice), even if the nature of the change comes from outside.

4/ That a manager could help each member of his team to find his own motivation or "free choice" => This what we call leadership

5/ That sometimes it is not appropriate to dig too far. Deal with emotions is different from being a therapist!

Tools/ useful notions:

  • Engagement theory: human beings tend to stick to one's choice, even if the choice becomes reckless (remember the experiment with the ball at the beach).


  • The Dilts pyramid: concept of "alignment" (see below)
La notion d'alignement en PNL - Charisme durable
It's in french... sorry!