How to drive change by focusing on exponential opportunity, not threats


Among the insights that John Hagel shared in our recent conversation on The Virtual Excellence Show was how to frame change for leaders.

From his decades of experience he says that you must focus on opportunity. Emphasizing threats simply increases resistance to change.

What makes this easier today is that fundamental shifts in the economy mean that opportunity can be exponential, generating even more compelling reasons for positive action.

However to seize those opportunities companies need to fundamentally recreate themelves, their old configurations are not adequate, deep change is essential.

See the video for John’s insights on this, or see below for a full transcript of the video.


You know, in my experience, the key to driving change is to focus on opportunity versus threat or challenge. There’s one approach which says, “The world is changing. If you don’t change, you’re going to die.” The burning platform kind of model. I believe that actually in general will increase resistance to change. It builds up fear, fosters fear, and the natural reaction when you’re afraid is to just resist and hold on to what you have.

My belief is, the way to motivate people to change and take more risks is to focus on the big opportunity. One of the ways we have of representing the Big Shift, as we describe it, which is the way the global economy is transforming itself, which has been playing out for decades, is that it’s creating exponential opportunity.

We can create far more value with far less resource, far more quickly than would have ever been imaginable. Really focusing executives on how can we harness this virtual capability to do that, is where the opportunity is. But it requires fundamentally rethinking what we’re doing, because you’re not creating as much value today.