The 3 Audiences of Change

Bob Schultek Author of
The Gauntlet

Change tends to happen slowly because it impacts three audiences, two of which have the power, inertia, and communications to support or defeat the change initiative.

Your ‘advocate’ audience perceives a change initiative as an opportunity to make a difference that also increases their visibility, while helping the company improve its means of creating value. They care about the change, believe that they’ll benefit from it, and so organize to support it.

Your ‘resistance’ audience values the stability of the status quo. They believe that the target of the change has consistently delivered efficiency and reduced risk, and they benefit from this, so see no reason to change. Their strategic bandwidth may be narrow, or perhaps they can’t fully assess how they might be impacted if the change is implemented. They’re intractable, not interested in reconsidering anything, at any time, and so organize to oppose the change. There’s no sense in debating them.

Your third audience is undecided about the change. These ‘fence-sitters’ need more information so they can determine if they win or lose from its implementation, and they are not yet prepared to risk investing effort in the change. They’ll engage in a limited, risk-averse way until they can determine which of the first two audiences is gaining momentum. Because they are not a cohesive group, their power may seem to be minimal, but in fact, they are the most powerful audience because their decision determines the success of the change initiative.

Change happens when you create the conditions for this third audience to care, causing them to join with the first audience in ramping up the urgency for implementing the change.

How have you caused this third audience to support change?

Leave a Comment