Try This: Walk the halls to drive change

Marketing Week columnist Thomas Barta offers quick, practical tips to help marketers solve perennial problems and become better leaders.

Thomas Barta Try This

You are in the business of change. In fact, we are all in the business of change. We try to get customers to accept our offer. We try to get colleagues to support our cause. We try to get friends to join our Saturday dinner. Making change happen is what most of us do, most of the time.

But change doesn’t come easy. Change takes people from the familiar to the unknown. And perhaps the familiar isn’t that bad. So why take the risk?

Getting people to change takes effort. You can’t make important change happen by email. Instead, you have to pack your bags, walk the halls, talk to people, gather feedback and build support.

In Japan, there is a term called nemawashi, which means “going around the roots”. The original meaning stems from agriculture. To move a tree, you take some dirt from the new land and sprinkle it onto the tree’s roots, so the tree gets used to the new land. In Japanese firms, people call the informal process of building consensus nemawashi. It isn’t easy. It isn’t fast. But a bit of nemawashi goes a long way.

Try This >>

For your change project, go around the roots a bit. Meet the key people one-on-one. Share the idea (if you can, use a story of hope). Get feedback. Don’t promise things you can’t keep; you can always promise to take note of their ideas. Build the feedback into your final plan. After all, 70% of your idea is accepted, is much better than 100% not accepted. Once you’ve made your decision, go back and explain it. Walking the halls won’t make you run faster – but further.

Thomas Barta is a marketing leadership expert, speaker and the co-author of ‘The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader’. He has teamed up with Marketing Week to launch the Marketing Leadership Masterclass, a new CPD-accredited online course designed to equip marketers with everything they need to become a better leader. To find out more and book your place visit

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