Assume there is a group of people wanting to travel from Point-A to Point-B. The leader of the group has spent a lot of time deciding that Point-B is the best place for the group and it is where the future lies. He is excited about the trip and has also designed a detailed travel plan to reach Point-B.
So far, so good. He then makes an extensive communication plan to cascade the travel plan to all the group members. And the journey starts.
It is only after some time that the leader realizes that the travel is not going as per initial plan. Looks like people are moving in random direction. Everybody is doing his/her own thing. There is lack of enthusiasm and energy in the group.
“The group members are not Motivated!” concludes the leader. So he organizes a fun team-building detour from the original plan, only to realize that the energy generated in the detour evaporated sooner than the time it took to make the detour.
Does the scenario sound familiar! Well it happens in almost all organisation for most change initiative.
The problem is simpler than it sounds. Before making a travel plan to move to Point-B, leader assumed that everyone is at Point-A. And that is a big assumption to make.
Most people, even though they are at the same physical place, mentally they are at very different places. These mental location is a function of their thoughts and emotions, which are based on their subjective experiences; their unique expectations and aspirations; etc. Hence the way they see the world is very subjective – their own subjective reality.
Same is true for every member of the group. Consequently, there are Multiple realities at play in an organisation. And these multiple realities are not just different from each other, at times they even contradict. So for the same “objective” reality (maybe as seen by the leader), there are multiple realities that exist.
And in the language of the metaphor of travel, people are at Point-A1, Point-A2, Point -A3 and so on.
So for any change initiative to succeed, these multiple realities need to be uncovered, understood and acknowledged. (Usually these multiple realities are a part of the organisational Unspeakables).
Another assumption the leader made in his travel plan is that the team members are all as excited as him to travel to Point-B. Most likely they don’t event understand what Point-B is, let alone be excited by it. Hearing people out on their thoughts, views and emotions about Point-B is then the next step before making the travel plan. Only then can the change initiative be planned to succeed.