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Many believe that organizations have to continually reinvent themselves in order to keep up with all that is changing around them. They point to the fact that those who cling to the status quo eventually die or are acquired by those who don’t, and they often – quite proudly – point to themselves as the poster child of what effective organizational change looks like.
All is not what it seems, however.
The truth is that whether organizations …

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Home » Change Leadership, Strategic Communications, Research & Studies

Why Won’t They Listen?!

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Just Because You’ve Communicated Doesn’t Mean They’ve Heard You

It’s not uncommon for project teams and executive sponsors to suffer from what’s known as the “curse of knowledge,” a term coined in the book Made to Stick. In a nutshell, the curse of knowledge is the psychological phenomenon where once you know something well, it’s difficult to remember what it is like to NOT know that. For project teams charged with implementing a new business initiative, this happens when they try to build awareness for their new initiative but are so familiar with the details that it’s difficult for them to put themselves in the position of uninitiated stakeholders. Solution: test and refine your messages on a small subset of stakeholders.

Individuals forget about 90 percent of what they see and hear within two weeks. Why is this so? In the United States, we are exposed to more than 1,600 advertising, public relations, marketing messages, and internal communications every day. Of them, we “see” only 80. And we really recall and take action on just 12. Most people need to hear new information multiple times before it registers in their minds for immediate recollection – before it “sticks.” This is why saying aloud a new name three times consciously can help you remember it. Solution: repeat your message. Repeat your message. Repeat your message.

However, some people will never learn new information by hearing it, and must instead see it (visual learners). Others learn through doing it themselves (action learners). This is why it’s important to employ a range of communications channels and methods. Solution: use a wide variety of communications channels. To help get you started, here is a partial list:

  1. Hallway conversations
  2. Posters
  3. Screensavers
  4. Town hall / all-hands meetings
  5. Instant messenger
  6. Voice mails
  7. Streaming videos
  8. Internal company publications
  9. Newsletters
  10. E-mail
  11. Focus groups
  12. Twitter
  13. LinkedIn
  14. Facebook
  15. Team meetings
  16. One-on-one meetings
  17. Company intranet / portal
  18. Bulletin boards
  19. Press releases
  20. Industry publications
  21. Home mailers

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Jesse Jacoby
The Editor of Emergent Journal and founder of Emergent, Jesse is a recognized expert in business transformation. He and his team partner with Fortune 500 and mid-market companies to deliver successful people and change strategies. Jesse is the creator of the Accelerating Change & Transformation (ACT) model and developer of Change Accelerator and Savvy Transition. Contact Jesse at 303-883-5941 or


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