Learning from roots promotes change and innovation



40871105 - strong foundation concept as the roots of a plant shaped as a butterfly and the leaves of a bush in the shape of flying butterflies as a creative base symbol and the power of freedom and imagination.

It’s all change, in an effort to be lean, competitive, innovative, whatever the reason for change, we often overlook our roots, our history, times when we were at our best and worse, to see what we can learn and apply to our future.

When working on culture change programmes with clients, I find it useful to help them to look back as well as forward –  To ask themselves the question ‘what did we do well when we were at our best?  How did we behave?  What stories did people tell?  What can we learn?

Returning to your roots can be beneficial in 5 fundamental ways;

  1. It helps people with the change process and making the transition by providing assurance that how things were done before are still valuable and relevant.
  1. There are always some real gems hidden in past ways of working, culture and behaviours, which can be refreshed, updated or acknowledged as not fit for purpose. One example which springs to mind are the stories from a transport operator of drivers who would go for a pint before starting duty.   Accepted practise then, unthinkable now.
  1. It highlights that change has been a constant and the journey provides tangible evidence of how far the organisation and people have evolved
  1. It involves and engages your people, sharing stories and anecdotes, it provides a sense of community and shared experience
  1. The people you invite to map out your roots journey will have positive stories to tell back in the workplace, creating natural ambassadors for your change programme

So how can you make this work for you?

Put aside a day and bring together a cross section of people from your organisation.    It’s a great opportunity to involve your front line teams with a range of length of service.  This will make the whole process rich and balanced

Make people feel valued and special by inviting them in a formal way to the event and prepare them for the event with some pre work and a clear outline of the day,

Get away from the office – find an inspiring and unusual space to work in

Make sure you have a good facilitator (we can help you there!) who will engage everyone, provide pace and flow to the day as well as creating a safe environment to work in.

Bring your journey to life, invite a graphic artist along to draw your roots journey – this will become a valuable asset you’ll gets lots of mileage out of throughout the change journey

And finally, view the day as the start of your change process and agree with your colleagues how you will build on your journey with local teams.


We love this stuff, so If you’d like to know more about leading change or learning from your roots, get in touch; steph@smart-working.org

Mobile:  07595431442