Change is hard. When an organization decides to embark on a digital transformation, it asks its employees to adopt and trust an unfamiliar new technology. While the “technology side of change” gets most of the attention, executives often underestimate, and fail to properly account for, the “people side of change”. At MSS Business Transformation Advisory, we understand large technology initiatives do not typically fail for technical reasons; instead, they often fail because the people side of change is not managed well. We call this “people side of change” Enterprise Change Management.
What is Change Management?
ProSci defines Change Management as the discipline that guides how organizations prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change to drive organizational success and outcomes.
An important aspect of this definition is the focus on the individual. This is because the barriers to change are experienced and overcome at the individual level. This key point of understanding helps inform the most successful approach to effectively managing “the people side of change”.
What are some common misconceptions?
When we start talking to our clients about Change Management, we often hear some misconceptions about what it is and what it is not. We hear things like:
- “We are doing Change Management. We have a communication plan.”
- “We are doing Change Management. We have a training plan.”
If you take nothing else away from reading this, we hope you will understand Change Management goes well beyond having communications and training plans. While we fully agree these are certainly important things to employ, we would encourage you to develop a deeper understanding of a Change Management Model that will deliver on a goal of 100% user adoption.
What is the best Change Management Model?
Although several Change Management Models exist, the most important and prevalent model is ProSci’s ADKAR. The ADKAR model theorizes that individuals experience and must overcome barriers to change in a sequential manner. These barriers are:
- Awareness of the need for change
- Desire to participate in and support the change
- Knowledge on how to change
- Ability to implement new skills and behaviors
- Reinforcement to sustain the change
The model is sequential; so, for example, an individual must become Aware of the need for change, prior to experiencing a Desire to participate in and support the change.
An Organization’s Competency for Change
As you look to apply the model at the organizational level, it becomes apparent that you must also look at the organization’s change leadership to understand the overall organizational competency for change. Organizational change leadership is a factor of subject matter expertise, capacity, and competency. Where there is a shortfall in any of these factors, the organization’s competency for change is negatively impacted.
What is the Change Management Process?
If change happens at the individual level, the question becomes: “How do you systematically employ Change Management at the enterprise level?” At MSSBTA, we understand each organization and digital transformation is unique, and there are no “cookie cutter” solutions or “silver bullets” in Change Management. Instead, we approach Enterprise Change Management as a series of process steps with each process tailored to the organization and technology initiative. We group these processes in phases: 1) Assess, 2) Plan, 3) Engage, and 4) Support.
- ASSESS. In the ASSESS phase, we encourage our clients to better understand their overall change readiness. Does the organization have a good understanding of WHO is impacted? and HOW are they impacted? Some typical activities we recommend during this phase include: 1) Develop High-Level Change Management Timeline, 2) Assess Organizational Hierarchy, 3) Assess Current State, 4) Define Future Vision, 5) Assess Experience and Risk, 6) Gap Assessment, and 7) Develop Roadmap Strategy.
- PLAN. In the PLAN phase, you will want to define: WHAT are you going to do to get people ready? Some typical activities include: 1) Define Detailed Audience and Change Impacts, 2) Develop Detailed Change Plans, 3) Develop Readiness Scorecards, 4) Identify Core Change Team, and 5) Plan the Change Agent and Super User Network.
- ENGAGE. In the ENGAGE phase, you will be executing against your Change Management plans. Some typical activities include: 1) Engage the Change Agent and Super User Network, 2) Develop the Engagement Tracker, 3) Execute and monitor Change Management plans, 4) Business Readiness Assessments, and 5) Training Evaluations and Assessment.
- SUPPORT. In the SUPPORT phase, you will want to provide for user adoption support and design for program sustainability. Some typical activities include: 1) Monitor and Measure Adoption and Usage, 2) Conduct Ad-hoc Coaching Sessions and Workshops, 3) Conduct Program Effectiveness Evaluation (minimum 30-days after go-live), and 4) Knowledge Transfer.
Depending on the organization and the specific initiative, sometimes Training and Communication fall under the broad umbrella of Enterprise Change Management and sometimes they do not. We approach Training as a separate, but necessary and complementary, discipline to Enterprise Change Management with activities occurring in close collaboration. For Communication activities we leverage Enterprise Change Management resources as the manager and quarterback of communications – not the developer. As a result, Enterprise Change Management teams typically work directly with Subject Matter Experts to facilitate the development and coordinate the transmission of critical project communications.
What are the potential negative impacts of poor Change Management?
Failure to adequately manage the “people side of change” can quickly lead to your own employees undermining the business changes you are seeking. We have seen these “people issues” range from low knowledge levels and incorrect usage of the new technology, to reversion to old processes, poor accountability and ownership, all the way to active resistance of the technology itself. What is the net impact to the organization? It can be devastating! Think about the costs of implementation delays, expensive re-work and change orders, and even having to cancel the project mid-stream.
What are some top recommendations for Executive Sponsors?
The time to think about Change Management is during the initial planning phases of a major technology initiative. Our top recommendations include:
- Active and Visible Executive Sponsorship. There is substantial data pointing to the most important critical success factor for any major technology initiative: active and visible executive sponsorship. We recommend building a Sponsor Roadmap to help keep the Sponsor active and visible throughout.
- Allocate Budget. We often see some budget for training, but rarely see budget for Change Management. Change Management is often an afterthought as opposed to an integrated discipline. We strongly recommend planning for dedicated resources when creating the project budget.
- Employ a Structured Approach. A structured, time-proven approach is always preferrable to “shooting from the hip”. Although this seems obvious, we constantly come across organizations that do not have an integrated plan and have disjointed resources operating in silos. The Change Management Team should work closely with Project Management, and these activities should be integrated in the overall project plan.
- Develop Change Metrics. User adoption rate should be one of the primary measures used to judge the success of the technology initiative. Other transitional metrics such as those captured during employee surveys and training can help drive visibility of how well the organization is receiving the change.
- Build a Change Agent Network. Especially in large organizations, spread out across many locations, it is essential to understand who the change agents are and how they will support one another. We recommend you build and empower a Change Agent Network to help foster broad adoption.
Can we help?
It is often impractical (or not cost effective) for an organization to rapidly build or scale its own internal Change Management resources when preparing for a digital transformation. Instead, the best option is to bring in an expert consultant to help guide and facilitate the efforts of the internal team.
If we can help, please send us a note and we will get back to you shortly! Advisory@mssbta.com
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