Changing Relationships

Change is about more than multiple choices
today. It’s also about how we relate to each other especially in the effort to
add value to life.

If we are in a true paradigm shift–a much over-used word that loses meaning with each over-statement–how does an organization or a corporation formed under older values and management structure adapt to the new realities? This is the real challenge in a paradigm shift. It’s not about superficial change. It’s not about re-structuring only. Sometimes re-structuring is useful, but not without equally basic changes in mission and service, in my opinion.

And the challenge that looms large is to define a mission and offer service in the midst of a greater choice of options. People, at least people in the developed world, have more choices than we can handle. We feel beset with ads that clamor for our attention, so much so that we have developed the skill of selective listening. We tune out the clutter and this has become second nature. We don’t think about it, we just do it.

If you’re trying to get people’s attention, this multitude of choices makes the task harder. In a world of choice, the power shifts to the individual. People can shift loyalties, attention, support or purchases to that offering that is most appealing, when the choices are multiple.

The question many organizations and corporations face today is re-discovering what unique value they add to the lives of those with whom they would have a relationship. And there’s the rub. We’re in a relationship economy.

We are challenged to engage in a relationship that adds some value or quality to the lives of people with whom we would relate. And for communicators this means we can’t simply throw the message out there and hope it sticks. The paradigm has shifted. The idea that “people need to know what I think they ought to know and I’m going to tell them regardless,” is not working. They can go elsewhere.

Moreover, relationships today can’t be faked, at least not for long. People catch on very quickly when they’ve been had. The whole quest for authenticity has made us much more keen to identify the false and misleading from the authentic.

The research I’ve been reading about communication with church audiences leaves me thinking of these challenges and considering how to add value, enter into purposeful relationships and offer deeper service at a time when it’s harder to get their attention. There’s the challenge.

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