To make change happen: “Listen, Decide, Communicate”

Thomas Barta TryThisBlog
By Thomas Barta
Last updated: November 11, 2017

How to mobilize colleagues for large-scale change—especially if that change might be seen as unpopular?  Use your secret weapon: “Listen, Decide, Communicate” or “LDC”.Let’s examine each step of LDC separately.


First, seek out the key people who’ll be affected by the change and briefly summarize—not your project’s details—but its overall goal. Then be quiet and listen closely to their views.

Listening is much more than catching every word. It’s about understanding what’s going on in the room. Mark Addicks, long- standing former CMO of General Mills, said, when speaking about the best advice he was ever given: “Be humble and be a good listener. When it was given to me the word listen meant really observe. A person I worked with said, ‘Watch people. Watch their body language. Watch their level of commitment.’

In particular, try to understand four things when you’re listening:

  • Facts (What is this person’s understanding of the facts?)
  • Feelings (How do they feel about the issue?)
  • Beliefs (What do they think is the proper course of action?)
  • Assumptions (What do they think will actually happen?)

To help you remember your key learnings, take notes.

Close the meeting by recapping what you’ve heard. Tell them what you intend to do next and when you’ll get back to them.


Once you’ve gathered all the facts and views, decide on a course of action to take. In some organizations that means bringing together the leaders who need to make a formal decision. However you do it, get it done.


Once again, meet all the people from your first round. Tell them the decision that’s been reached. Show how you’ve done your best to address their concerns. If you didn’t choose their preferred option, explain why you didn’t. It’s crucial that they know they were genuinely listened to and their ideas considered. Close the meeting by thanking them for their contributions and asking for their support for the action plan.

Say’s David James, former CMO of British Telecoms, about one his most successful change project: “Rather than telling people what to do, we presented an idea, let them shape it, and shared the success.”

LDC is simply one of your most powerful techniques in mobilizing colleagues.

Source: The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader, Barta/Barwise