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Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

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Change the Recipe for Success


Have you ever suddenly been confronted by an unexpected change forced on you by the actions of others? How did it feel to have your status quo unexpectedly thrown off kilter? Did you feel shocked? Or was it anger that overwhelmed you? Maybe you wanted to cover your ears, close your eyes and scream "Noooooooo"? Or maybe you just found yourself bemused by what you perceived by the stupidity or selfishness of the actions of others?

If you’re one of the 10 million plus fans of the Great British Bake Off, you've probably had rather a sharp reminder this week of exactly what unwelcome change feels like. Even if you’re not a fan, and can’t see what the fuss is all about, we can all learn from the experience...

Change, by its very nature, generates an emotional reaction; we fear it and crave it in almost equal measure. How we feel about a change depends upon how much we value what we perceive will be the outcome of it.

In this instance there will be some people who were very happy with the announcement; those who get something from it: Love Productions (who will get a LOT more money), Channel 4 (the higher their viewing figures, the greater their advertising revenue) and of course all those companies who were looking forward to advertising on “Britain’s favourite TV Show”.

But, and this is a big but, in the excitement, how much thought did Love Productions & Channel 4 place in thinking about how others outside their bubble of excitement would view the change? How much consideration did they give to their feelings? Did they anticipate and plan for how 10 million plus viewers would feel knowing that a third of the show they love would now be taken up with adverts?

My guess is the answer is that they didn’t think too hard about it at all! Why? Because, as it rapidly transpired, they hadn’t even considered the impact of the change on the show’s presenters and judges. Not only had they not been involved in the process, they hadn’t been informed and, crucially, they hadn’t agreed to it.

Or in other words, they didn’t (yet) see the value in the change.

And so it was that, within 24 hours of the announcement, Mel & Sue (viewed by many as an integral part of the show’s charm) declined to “follow the dough” and quit; rumour is that Mary may follow suit. Aside from the reaction of the unhappy viewers, many people were now talking about the fact that Love Productions may have just killed their golden goose. It’s not hard to see why people think this.

As the week draws to a close, those who were ‘craving’ the change might have pause to reflect about their apparent lack of consideration of the impact of the change on others; Channel 4 may just have spent £75m for a tent, Paul Hollywood & a lot less viewers (Top Gear anyone?) Whilst Love Productions will, almost certainly, have seriously damaged their relationship with the BBC (the very organisation who trusted them when no one else would listen).

So what can we learn from this the next time we need to implement a change? What is the recipe for success in implementing change?

Our ingredients:

  • The people who will be impacted by the change.
  • The people whose behaviour will impact the success of the change.


  1. Decide on a strategy for communicating with your stakeholders.
  2. Listen to their views or concerns about the change; give them an opportunity to make suggestions.
  3. Make appropriate adjustments to your plans.
  4. Give them reason(s) to value the change.
  5. Ask for their support in making the change a success.
  6. Keep communicating; don’t take their support for granted.

Implementing change is rarely easy, and few of us will ever be involved in one that has generated as many headlines as Great British Bake Off has this week. But in failing to follow even the most basic recipe, it can be argued that the show’s producers & Channel 4 have failed their Technical Challenge. One can only hope that they learn from it in the coming months so that it doesn’t become a Showstopper too.

Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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