As a business consultant and author of 12 books on leadership, I was asked to explain how a model for change offered valuable insights on how we might change minds on Brexit. The Gleicher formula offers a model for thinking about change. You can find a full treatment of the model and my modification in my 2016 book for Bloomsbury “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise“.
When applied to our strategy for change, some observations may be made:
A – CREATIVE TENSION Whereas there is massive creative tension (dissatisfaction) with the present situation re Brexit, it is by no means shared. Our fieldwork on the ground shows that many people who previously described themselves as remainers no longer believe that Brexit can or should be reversed. This is what I called “Learned Helplessness” in the book “Let’s Talk About Brex it“. For example many young people at the Reading Festival last week think that Brexit is irreversible. Some were surprised to learn that we are still attempting to renegotiate the Brexit deal as it has been airbrushed out of the media by all political parties.
ACTION : We must work on awareness that Brexit is not done, with individuals, communities and of course political parties. See communications strategies below.
B – SHARED VISION This is the area where Remainers struggle the most. There are multiple diagnoses of the routes to rejoin. Some think it can never be done, others think it will take 20-30 years, others much shorter timescales. Some think it can only be done by working on politicians, others on voting systems, others on the ground, and so on. A lack of leadership and shared vision is a hardy perennial in the Remain movement and our work on Scenarios to Rejoin could be used to help focus people on the more viable pathways to Rejoin.
ACTION : This is the most urgent area for attention. It requires leadership, strategy and structure. It is itself a major obstacle to progress. In the first instance, please join us every Monday to help refine our Scenarios for Rejoin. Longer term we must convert these into strategies and persuade leaders and opinion formers of the value of having a shared vision of the routes to Rejoin.
C – ACTIONABLE FIRST STEPS In the absence of a shared vision, we have a scattergun approach to C. Some say we cannot wait for strategy and we must do something, almost anything to change the situation. Others say we must wait for the needed clarity, yet it has not been forthcoming in the last five years. Purposeful action arises when there is clarity on item B. In the meantime our four objectives at Re-Boot Britain are a useful interim set of goals. Others have similar ambitions, expressed differently but there is good coherence amongst grassroots groups about what needs to be done. It is a case of gathering, harvesting and multiplying that work. Interim goals such as the Customs Union and Single Market may be stepping stones on the journey, but one must also be minded of the fact that such things will radically reduce the pool of people and interest groups that want Brexit stopped. For example, once industry is satisfied about the way things are, reclaiming the rights of 68 million people may be much more difficult. The goal of “logical incrementalism” versus an “all or nothing” strategy must be thought deeply about. Our Government understand this, hence attempts to buy off sectors with inducements, in order to reduce the pool of people who remain unhappy about Brexit. Play this forward five years and it is not clear that a Rejoin movement of any size would exist at all. The time is now in terms of working on all elements of the change model, even if some of the actions are preparatory.
ACTION : We can all act to call Brexit to account, by continuing the conversation about Brexit Carnage and the lack of benefits coming through. What are your top five daily actions as an individual? What can you do with others in your local area?
D – COST OF CHANGE Undoing something is always harder than doing it. As we diverge further from EU alignment, it becomes more and more difficult to Rejoin. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the Brexit ultras wish to do this. Never forget that Brexit was won on emotion and not a plethora of facts. Rejoiners need to think more about how we can talk Leave voters down from the mountain. At an individual level, the book Let’s Talk About Brex it is a how-to guide on changing beliefs and even identities on the Brexit debate. We plan a series of masterclasses on the processes of change. Join us every Monday via ZOOM to find out more.
ACTIONS : Your call
Please write to me to flesh this short piece out. I am happy to expand upon this article with your views.