Who are you seeking to change?

As soon as you understand the change you seek to make, it becomes quite clear that you’re not going to change everyone (and nor will you likely want to).

But you need to change somebody. And likely groups of somebodies.

Who are your stakeholders?

We do care that they don’t all look the same, but it would also really useful if you had some way to group them together. Do they share a belief? An attitude? An interest, or, more likely, a similar salience?

Can you pick them out from a crowd? What makes them different from everyone else and similar to each other?

Throughout the change, we need to stick to the essential question: “Who’s it for?” It has subtle magic power, the ability to shape the product you build, the story you tell and how you tell it. Once you’re clear on “who it’s for” the pathway begins to open up for you.

Here’s a simple story. Both Boland Bank and Capitec are in the business of retail banking. But for the first decade of its existence, Capitec didn’t try to attract people who banked at Boland Bank, and vice versa.

While there are external factors influencing the two banks (in Stellenbosch you would find more low-income clients banking at Capitec than you would at Boland) the real distinction wasn’t external but internal. Capitec set out to serve simple, affordable and transparent products that could be easily be understood by their customer, as well as employing specialists to service the switching of clients—and by focusing on this group of somebodies Capitec built the ‘Best Bank on Earth’ and the ‘Cheapest in South Africa’.

(And Boland Bank closed its doors at 3:30 p.m. one afternoon, never to reopen them.)