The Heart of Change (201)

The Head and Heart

by John Kotter

Source:  Kotter International

People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking, than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings.
When changing behavior, both thinking and feeling are essential. Highly successful organizations know how to overcome antibodies that reject anything new. But first, a process of change must happen that uses both the head and the heart.

The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people, and behavior change happens in highly successful situations, mostly by speaking to people’s feelings. This is true even in organizations that are very focused on analysis and quantitative measurement, even among people who think of  themselves as smart in an M.B.A. sense.

In highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thought. Feelings then alter behavior sufficiently to overcome all the many barriers to sensible large-scale change. Conversely, in less successful cases, this seeing-feeling-changing pattern is found less often, if at all.

Thinking vs. Feeling

To change successfully, people need to be able to both think and feel positively about what they need to do. Without addressing both sides, change is less likely to occur.

THINKING differently can help change behavior and lead to better results.

  • Collect data, analyze it
  • Present the information logically to change people’s thinking
  • Changed thinking, in turn, can change behavior

 FEELING differently can change behavior MORE and lead to even better results.

  • Create surprising, compelling, and, if possible, visual experiences
  • The experiences change how people feel about a situation
  • A change in feelings can lead to significant change in behavior

Checklist for Speaking to the Head and Heart

  • Make a compelling story
  • Use of metaphors, analogies and imagery
  • Use simple language and avoid jargon and acronyms
  • Communicate with what you DO not just what you Say
  • Frequent, consistent and aligned communication
  • Energy and enthusiasm are infused throughout
  • Careful use of data – don’t overuse
  • Do your homework to understand what people are feeling
  • Rid the channels of communication from junk so that important messages come through
  • High level of visibility
  • Bring the outside in


“Do the Math” from Leading Change without Losing It: Five Strategies That Can Revolutionize How You Lead Change When Facing Opposition by Carey Nieuwhof

How to Turn ANY Disagreement into a Nasty Fight in Your Congregation by Ian Evison

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