From ‘Done to Them’ to ‘Driven by Them’ – Discover the psychology behind successful change initiatives. Learn how involving your team in the driver’s seat, fostering trust, and embracing a cultural approach can lead to transformational success.

Last week I had a question from a project leader who is working with a new team on a change initiative. The project leader described the team as “prickly”.

This got me thinking about why the team felt like this, who should feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, and who should take the “glory” of strategy success.

My tip for this week:

People impacted by the change should feel as if they are driving the change, not having change “done to them”. This applies to all levels of an organization. Based on psychological principles and neurological reactions, this best suits our ego, and the need we have to feel a sense of status in relation to others, and control over our own destiny.

Here’s an example.

I was once introduced to a client business team who was initially very defensive and unfriendly. I was foisted upon them by their manager’s boss to improve the performance of the business. They saw this as an outsider being sent to improve their performance … and they resented the intrusion. 3 teams of consultants had already been and gone, all producing reports with similar recommendations. I know…. I read them all. No wonder they were dismayed at another group of consultants.

By the end of the project, my team, the client business team and I had delivered all the projects successfully, delivered the commercial outcomes that the executive wanted, and had friendly and respectful relationships with the client team.

What we did that worked in driving change:

  • Asked the business team (the business owners) to rollup their sleeves and co-design the approach.
  • Earned trust by supporting the client business team to be successful by generously teaching them new skills.
  • When we presented progress, we got the business team on the train together to go up to head office to present the progress to the Divisional Exec, their manager’s manager. Some of the team were in clerical roles and not used to going to head office. The Divisional Exec was slightly surprised that I’d invited the whole junior team to the meeting. The team were very nervous to do this. Yet you should have seen them afterwards, how proud they were, how they were beaming from ear to ear after receiving the accolades directly from their Divisional Executive.

This reflects my view that the business team are the ones who are rightly the “face” of the change. Email me and let me know your views, I’d love to hear from you.

It is time to transform TRANSFORMATION.

It is possible to combine a commercial, business perspective


a disciplined project perspective


a change management, people-oriented perspective


an approach aligned to the culture. For more, see this video

In the Turbocharge Your Transformation membership next month, our topic is Turbocharging with AI for innovators, project leaders, change makers and transformation specialists. I can’t wait to share how I use ChatGPT and other AI tools to improve productivity and communications.


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About Lisa Carlin

As a strategy execution specialist and scaleup mentor, Lisa works with ambitious digital leaders to turbocharge their transformation and business planning. Lisa’s clients have an independent sounding board and expert advice so they have absolute confidence they WILL ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. Lisa is Co-Founder and Director of FutureBuilders Group of organisational development specialists, and volunteers as Chair of the University of Cape Town Australia Trust. Her early career was with Accenture (South Africa) and McKinsey (USA).

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