Looking Forward to Change
If there is anything I have learned in life, it is that change is a constant thing. I have had a dozen jobs, three careers, lived in six states, and been a part of countless organizations. The only thing that was the same at each stop was that there was some degree of change involved for me or others. For many, change can be a scary thing, and the management of change often falls to the bottom of the priority list for many projects.
I want to stand up from the rooftops and shout, “Change is exciting!” every time I see someone roll their eyes at the idea of a change management plan. That’s because effective change management is usually the key to a successful project. Manage your change (read: the reactions to that change) well, and the odds are much greater that your stakeholders will deliver for you.
But how do you do it? How do you even start?
At Kenway, we have three main buckets in our change methodology: Analyze, Plan & Execute, Implement and Transition. Sounds simple, right?
Start with your analysis. First, ask yourself three questions: what am I changing, why am I making the change, and finally, who is impacted? You have probably seen “The Rogers Curve” before, but it is as relevant today as it was in 1962.
As a leader of change, you need to know the people you are looking to impact. If you treat an early adopter the same way you treat a laggard, you are going to have issues. Early adopters are on your side. Laggards are going to need a little more push. Know who is who, who falls in between, and what their motivations are. Think about how this change will impact your users, and how it will help them. If it doesn’t help them, understand why not.
Next, get down to brass tacks. You know who you are impacting, you know why, and you know how. Now you need to start thinking about how to communicate with these users. Will it be in writing? Webinars? In person? How much does each user need to know about the change? How frequently? You only get one shot to make a first impression, so plan out your communication strategy well and be thoughtful. If you do not plan well, there is a strong likelihood that you will be fighting an uphill battle for support that could take far longer than your original plan. I worked with a client on a rollout of a major tool, and they did not fully believe in change management. The tool was great, but the communication was poor. The client then spent two years trying to get people to use the tool. It was a waste of resources that could have been avoided if they were more dedicated to change management.
Finally, implement your plan and transition. Not everything can be a special project forever. A good change management plan takes into account the long-term effects of your change and prepares people for these shifts.
I can’t tell you enough how much I love change, even with all its uncertainty. Change at your organization doesn’t have to hurt, or be something your colleagues dread. If done well, it can be something to which they look forward.
If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask. Kenway is always here to help. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.