Skilled journalists and news reporters have the fantastic gift to ask the right questions the right time. Those questions that make you silent as you did not expect them on the spot… Questions can irritate though, as many of these are based on ideas that “if anything could go wrong, it definitely will”. Skilled reporters ask about the risks, the unforeseen aspects in a crisis or change, and they expect you to answer them right away. If not, they will insist until they get at least a nonverbal answer from your side. And they live from antagonisms: doing something will lead to problems, doing nothing instead also is a problem…
I must admit, i had sometimes enough of these questions when I was listening to the morning radio these last months. Some questions seemed to make people worry more than to give them insights in the actual situation of the crisis we went through. Remarkably, many people take things for granted whenever they come from those kind of messengers. The impact of news reporters and media cannot be overrated.
In companies we also have our news reporters, those who are skilled as well to ask critical questions on the change you are implementing. Many managers use to avoid contact with these people, as they will only create negative energy. Those people who ask critical questions however have their value in a change process. It is only a pity they appear to ask the questions so late in the process. We may overlook and even miss the opportunity involving critical thinkers in our change process at an early stage. Are we afraid they will kill the positive vibes of excitement for the new ideas? Perhaps….
Involving critical thinkers in an early stage, let’s say the brainstorming stage where nothing is decided yet, can help us avoid bad surprises afterwards. Critical questions will be asked anyway, so we’d better be prepared for them. Think of a recent change in your company: which questions were asked and caught you by surprise? Which of these could have been expected? Which of these were you not able to answer properly?
Preparation is the breakfast of champions. Involving people who can help you be better prepared for your decision is a fully legitimate way of managing your business. Instead of running away from the critics, have them work for you. Your change project may benefit of it. Get some news reporters aboard and let them do what they’re good at: asking the questions no one would like to hear…. but also: have them help you to find answers to their questions that would satisfy them. This way your change project will be so much stronger when it takes off!