In a survey by McKinsey and Company, more than 1500 executives were asked, if they considered the change initiatives in their companies completely successful and only 30% agreed.

One of the reasons is there is only a 30% success in change initiatives is because of lack of a compelling story. Alternatively, as Simon Sinek would put it ‘finding the why.’

Here are two mistakes change leaders make while communicating the ‘why’:


When the story focuses only on companies perspective of assets, market share, cost, industry leadership the ‘why’ doesn’t impact more than 20% of the employees (as per research by social scientists such as Danah Zohar and Chris Cowen).

Rationality is not a prime motivator for change.

In fact, research shows that to create energy to mobilize 80% of the employees’ stories should be of social and personal significance rather than being only ‘company’ focused or using ‘rationality focused arguments.’

Examples of compelling stories focusing on such social and personal significance would be:

Building communitiesImpact on ‘me.’Sense of achievement as a teamImpact of customers Environmentally contributions


Another way to fail at communicating change is to create a burning platform.

Constant and only focus on what is wrong creates a culture of blame, fatigue, and resistance.

The best approach is to change using the path of experimentation. Experimenting through discovery and designing creates a focus on the positive future. However, some amount of anxiety is good as it balances out an over emphasis on how positive an impact of change can be.

Balance with communicating positive and negatives of the story (focus on success and mistakes) helps teams outperform those who focus only on positive outcomes or adverse outcomes.

A compelling story to communicate the need for change helps teams be more committed to the change.

‘Start with a why’ and communicate it well!


Simon Sinek

John Kotter

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