King Louis the XIV: Change Management Strategies From A King

King Louis the XIV (Sun King) accomplished many things during his long reign as King of France, but did you know that he was also an agent of change and advocate of transformation?

In this collaboration paper between Lauren Wischerath a corporate media influencer intern and Abraham M. Gutsioglou, Ph.D. a business transformation agent, we highlight how we apply some of the Sun King strategies to our projects. We explain how we use multidisciplinary (and in this case, historical) thinking to create #transformations.

In part 1, Abraham M. Gutsioglou, Ph.D. points out the synergy between the Sun King’sinfluence during his reign and how his concepts relate to change management. In part 2, Lauren Wischerath describes how she takes the framework and applies modern media influencer skills to generate moments of transformation.

Part 1: By Abraham M. Gutsioglou, Ph.D.

The Sun King had an immense influence over many things - such as - fashion, art, literature, etiquette, and architecture (e.g., Versailles). In each of these areas he was very specific on what, how, when, and why these things were important for his reign and the country.

Lesson #1 from the King: Let’s start with fashion, before he came to full power, France was not the place one looked for trends or style. Historians say that the Sun King, realized that images are powerful ways to promote thought and morph perception. The Sun King,did what any change agent would do. He put a strategy in place. He focused his efforts on creating campaigns to tell stories of his court and luxury. A story narrated to put France at the center of the universe.

Change management tip #1: The Sun King teaches us here to use social media to help convey the story of your project. Obviously, you have to be mindful of the channels of distribution you use and how your audience consumes material, but the idea is the same. Create a meaningful story + produce content +push your message = perception created. It helps to have brand ambassadors. In the workplace, these tend to be executive sponsors, power users, or stakeholders – think of them as your corporate celebrities. I can see it now…. “Keeping up with the executives.”

Lesson #2 from the King: The rules of etiquette. There was a rule for pretty much everything. There were rules on how to walk, talk, eat, gamble, what to wear, when to wear it, who to be associated with, and even a rule on where to live based on your status and influence. At face value this seems a bit much, but beneath the surface it was a way of modifying behavior and creating uniformity for a greater good of the people.

Change management tip #2: We are not saying you need to force your people to live in the workplace – although, some might already do that for other reasons 😊. However, we are saying that you should have a strategy that allows everyone to understand what the rules of the new world will be. I can’t imagine you are creating a transformation strategy that does not include a new set of expected behaviors. Take the time to blueprint how the organization will be different when you implement your strategy. After all, you are investing time, effort, energy, and money to reach a destination. Help your audience know what they need to do when they get there. Provide them a checklist – A.K.A “rules of etiquette.” 

Part Two: By Lauren Wischerath

What’s a corporate media influencer?

Like any good strategist, whether we are talking the late 17th century or the modern-day business world, my role is to create content and remind people of the interesting things we have going on with our projects. It is easy for people to be distracted, so I help them focus on what’s important. We do this by being as transparent as possible and by documenting and communicating information as it happens in real time. As for any transformation, our goal is to create awareness and spark interest; once the ball is rolling, we shift to increasing user engagement and overall adoption. Throughout it all, the most important part of being an agent of transformation is generating feedback and applying that feedback to keep getting better. Continuing to improve is clearly something the longest reigning King of France had to have known a little bit about. 

What We Did, What We Saw: Show Me The Numbers

Moments of transformation are best measured by numbers. Let’s take a look at a strategy we implemented and what the numbers revealed.

I was given the challenge to create content for an existing project, generate exposure and engagement. I took the baseline audience of 1824 users of a technology and streamlined content from locations all over the globe into one, made it an accessible forum to ask questions, communicated key messages, encouraged/provided feedback, and exposed the community of users to the progress our team was making.  

We focused our attention on just a handful of campaigns. We pushed daily interesting content and made it directly relevant and meaningful to users. The results here are for only one channel of distribution. We doubled our reach and increased engagement. The base number of 1824 jumped to an audience number of 3809 (doubling in size and counting) across 6 countries.   

Result: Increased user engagement in our community of 3809+ users.

  • Increase in “Active Users” up 128%

  • Increase in “Published Messages” up 27%

  • Increase in “Read Messages” up 63%

  • Increase in “Liked Messages” up 122%

To sum things up, we mapped the vision of our project, then we focused heavily on creating content (promotional videos, user friendly tips/tricks, infographics), and we pushed content using our corporate celebrities (executives or power users). The outcome = engagement.

Thanks for reading. 😊

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