October Business Change Digest

In this edition:

SPOTLIGHT

Starting a business change programme? Avoid the common pitfall.

AFINITI NEWS

Jay Dixon joins the team as Business Change Director.

INSIGHTS ROUNDUP

The latest from the Afiniti insights blog.

 

Spotlight by Anthony Edwards

You’re about to start your business change programme, but where’s your burning platform, and can you fight the fire?

Someone recently asked me ‘what’s the one key thing you would advise leaders embarking on a business change programme?’

This is a really big ask, There are so many elements to discuss and debate – each ‘change’ has different drivers, each industry its own nuances, and each company its own culture and all these elements play vital roles in shaping any programme.

Thinking about the past 15 years’ or so, and my experience helping clients in oil and gas, transport, logistics, pharmaceutical, and finance; There is one stand-out piece of universal wisdom I’d pass on to any client, which is to start at the beginning.  It sounds obvious, but let me explain.

Start at the beginning, and take it step by step

In my experience many organisations find themselves starting their change programme by creating the vision and strategy, before they’ve sufficiently ‘set the stage’.

Planning a business change programme can feel incredibly daunting. Time and again leaders are under pressure and already behind the curve – budget approval came through later than anticipated and the programme is running behind schedule and not completely formed, but there’s pressure to plough-on regardless.  It’s at this point that you need to take a step back and say ‘stop, let’s start from the beginning – together.  Let’s set ourselves up for success.’

So what should you be doing before you start strategising?

Preparation really is the key when it comes to change, so it’s no surprise that there are a number of models and methods for building and leading change programmes – and we can use elements from many of them. One I return to time and again is Kotter’s 8-Step Process which breaks the job down into logical, and most importantly, sequential steps.

 

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model for Successful Transformational Change

Source: Kotter and Cohen, The Heart of Change.

 

Step 1. Create a sense of urgency – Nail the ‘Why?’ and ‘Why now?’

For change to stick it really helps if the whole organisation accepts it and understands the drivers – especially if change has been attempted in the past and already had a number of false starts.

For this reason Kotter encourages us to start the change programme by creating a sense of urgency, so that we are not only focussing on the ‘why’ change, but also the ‘why change now?’

You need to develop a clear and compelling story – a way to articulate the common goal behind which everyone needs to align. The story needs to not only be socialised, but shouted from the rooftops, so everyone can understand why this change is taking place and get behind it. This sense of urgency, communicated by the leadership team, builds, spreads and fuels itself, and there you have what Kotter refers to as your burning platform.

It’s also worth noting that, at this stage it is crucial to sense check that your reason for change will be obviously compelling to everyone involved, not just the leadership team.  It may seem crystal clear to senior leaders, but once you start communicating about the change, and you go two or three steps out into the business, the people may not have a clue what you’re talking about!  A good question to ask is, if the story is not clear, does the responsibility for clarification lie with the reader or story teller?!

It’s equally important that all members of the leadership team can articulate this sense of urgency.  People need to receive the same message whether they ask the project team or their own management hierarchy, It is your senior sponsors’ responsibility to ensure that they’re all aligned.

 

Step 2. Create a guiding coalition from across the organisation

You’ve created the sense of urgency and now you need to shape a team who can continue building the momentum and lead the change programme.

Consider who will be strong and effective at leading the change on a daily basis – you’ll need influential people around the table, from a variety of different backgrounds.  These people will become key to embed the change later on.

Once you’ve formed your guiding coalition you need to check that the common goal is anchored in the benefit outcome  – and that you’ll be able to measure your success against this. Then you’re in a position to start creating the vision and strategy for the change programme.

 

One last thing

So you’ve nailed the ‘why’ and you have your guiding coalition ready to get started on your business change programme.  One final thing to consider:

Is the organisation currently ready and capable of change?

To be in the optimum position to be ready and receptive to change – your key business capabilities such as leadership, culture and competency should be functioning at a certain level.  If any one of these is out of kilter, you’re not giving yourself the best chance for the programme to succeed.

Afiniti’s 6LeverTM change readiness assessment tool measures where you are now against six key capabilities and outlines any gaps which need to be addressed, and what needs to be done to accelerate change and make it sustainable.

 

 

Take the Change Readiness Assessment now and find out if your organisation is ready for change.

 

I’d love to hear any experiences you’ve had with ‘setting the stage’ for business change.  Do you think there are any other pitfalls senior leaders should be mindful of when embarking on a business change programme?

Afiniti news: Jay Dixon joins the team as Business Change Director

Previously a Managing Partner at James and Carmichael Consulting (JCC), Jay has over twelve years’ consulting experience under his belt, as well as a background in operations and supply chain management where he started his career after graduating from Leeds University .

Jay is settling in to working life at Afiniti, so it seemed a good time to sit down with him and have a chat about his career to date, his areas of specialism and what he’s enjoying working on so far at Afiniti.

Read the full article.

Insights roundup: The latest from the Afiniti insights blog

 

If you’re thinking about cyber security, you should be thinking about behaviour change.

 

communications tools that last

 

Four ways to create communications tools that last.

 

 

Afiniti vBlog: Afiniti’s top tips for creating user-generated content.

 

 

What tools do IT managers need to successfully manage change?

As well as routine project management and IT programmes, IT managers are often tasked with the people elements of change – an implementation can’t be seen as successful if there is no user adoption.

So what do they need in order to make sure this goes smoothly?  IT managers need practical tools that will be sustainable for future use. As all change is unique and needs people to truly own it, all guidelines and templates must be flexible and adaptable to help engage people and enable them to put their own stamp on a project.

Here are my top ten products and tools to support IT managers:

1.       Change readiness assessment

There are questions to ask around how ready the business is for a particular change. How likely are the current culture and patterns of working to lend themselves to adoption of the new process or technology? What barriers may appear in the organisation?  Readiness assessments allow us to baseline our change capability within an organisation, or a part of an organisation. Readiness assessments can be repeated at various points up until go-live to measure the effectiveness of the change management we have implemented.

Take our sample organisational change readiness assessment

2.       A change readiness dashboard

The change readiness dashboard will collate the various readiness assessments and report them as a whole.  Through a readiness dashboard we can assess if our change management approach is being successful

3.       Change impact analysis

This is a template that allows us to overlay what the change is, with which user groups it is going to affect.  We can build on this to determine how we best support for those groups.

4.       Stakeholder mapping templates

A means of identifying and classifying key stakeholders according to their influence and relevance to the project. This can feed into a stakeholder management plan.

5.       A process for co-creating a key message framework

As well as the key message framework, you’ll also want to co-create the core story with key stakeholders.

Read our blog on the impact of storytelling on your change programme

6.       An adaptable communications strategy

Your communications strategy will need to be adaptable and flexible enough that it can be applied to different functions/areas to ensure it reaches all corners of your stakeholder matrix.

7.       A guide for line managers to support their teams throughout a project and beyond

You will need a guide for line managers to help them support their teams, and you will also need guides for sponsors and change champions to help them fulfil their roles. This includes ideas for sharing success, communicating at different levels, setting example behaviours, gathering and monitoring feedback, and answering questions. The guides should support the change network to reach the heart of the business, to prepare people and embed a number of changes in behaviour. And, thinking back to sustainability – these guides are inherently reusable.

8.       A sponsor roadmap

The roadmap needs to provide a  framework for the change project, and set out how the sponsor can support the various project teams and stakeholders, as well as how the project manager can use the sponsor to effectively deal with resistance and challenges.

Here’s the Prosci take on the sponsorship roadmap

9.       The creation of sustainable and highly relevant communications materials

Sustainability for any team faced with implementing change, really means three things here: 1 Boosting long term skills. Once a team goes through the process once and has coaching, the process becomes repeatable. 2 Tools should always have a long life-span for example a video should be reusable. This means every item has to be produced with sustainability in mind: ‘where can we use this elsewhere?’ ‘What would need to come out to enable multiple use?’ And 3. Adaptable templates for items such as emails and newsletters can all be used again and again by an IT manager or change team, to create materials for new projects.

10.   The development of a one-stop portal

often developed in SharePoint, the portal will house everything people need to know about the new technology, with individual learning pathways that can be tailored and updated for new projects.

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the ten points above. Are there any more elements you think could be added? Let us know in the comments below.

Effective change networks

During business change initiatives, Change Champions and / or change networks are well established, not controversial, and often of huge value.

Certainly, we’re rarely involved in an initiative without there being Change Champions or equivalent.  Despite that we still observe behaviours that can trip Champions up, rendering them ineffective.  And it’s not all about recruiting the right people.

First, there’s inadequate engagement or equipping.  Champions are recruited casually, receive little in the way of training or toolkits, and feel they’re being ignored.  As a result Champion commitment and activity wither before having any impact – with perhaps a few brave souls pushing on, feeling increasingly unsupported.  There’s a ‘double whammy’ here.  Not only is change endangered by ineffective Champions (not their fault), but influential individuals have experienced first-hand that their organisation cannot be relied on to support its people through change.  Others will watch and draw their own conclusions, even if the Champions say nothing.

Second, we’ve seen a belief that if Champions are in place, nothing else need be done.  At its worst, we’ve seen major disconnects between committed champions and disengaged operational management; business leaders abdicating their responsibility to drive change; and overloaded champions desperately trying to deliver ongoing day-to-day responsibilities and move the change initiative forward.  The results are predictable: burnt-out, disillusioned Champions and change hitting the buffers.  The risk here, too, is a reaction that says Champions don’t work, that it’s all about leaders leading.

The lessons seem obvious, but also seem to need restating.  If people need to be engaged and equipped for a change journey, how much more do those tasked with guiding them on the journey.  And, Champions are simply not an alternative to organisational leaders playing their role – it’s ‘both / and’.

An engaged and well-equipped community of Champions, working in tandem with organisational leadership can be wonderfully powerful.  To deploy ill-equipped and un-supported champions, working in isolation, is to hang some of the organisation’s best people out to dry.

Five tips for reducing the impact of redundancies

Large scale redundancies are all too common in business, especially in the North Sea at the moment. They mean huge uncertainty and massive change for remaining employees. So, how can we make it easier for them and help minimise the impact of redundancies on a business?

Firms facing large personnel losses will need to manage the loss of talent and knowledge. There can also be a risk of low morale and a drop in employee engagement which can have serious consequences for performance and productivity.

But risk can be reduced by change management activities which help prepare the business and its people for the changes ahead.

Here are 5 tips for reducing the negative impact of streamlining on the business:

  • Get under the skin of the challenges facing the business. This is about really knowing the business; its people, its culture and heartbeat. Carrying out an impact analysis, stakeholder mapping and training needs analysis will help you identify where skills and knowledge might be lost when employees leave and where and how to focus your engagement and communication efforts.
  • Give staff a roadmap of change. Large scale change can cause huge uncertainty. Outlining what to expect in a roadmap helps people to see the reasons behind the changes and the vision for the future. Interactive roadshows are ideal for breathing life into the roadmap and creating conversations; ensuring communication is two way. Leadership needs to communicate its vision in a way that inspires and involves people and that means getting in front of them and giving them a chance to air their concerns, be heard and get some answers.
  • Regular, relevant and engaging internal communications. Carry out a channel analysis and provide what the audience want, in the way they want and when they want it.  Rebrand existing collateral where needed and be creative to really showcase the value and pride that staff have in their work and company.
  • Take a pulse check. Are your communications having the reach and impact they need to? Have you implemented measurement? Use a survey or other tools to carry out a ‘pulse check’ and measure against established metrics. This will give valuable insights and feedback but you must act on it. Employees must be meaningfully involved with change and be able to have genuine input.
  • Knowledge sharing. Large scale change can mean a loss of valuable skills, knowledge and talent. It’s important to engage with those going and those staying. Multi-media will bring knowledge transfer and training and learning to life and provide active knowledge share capability. Create ‘pride stories’ and the desire to leave a legacy in the form of great knowledge transfer. For those staying, establish where the gaps in knowledge exist and maximise opportunities for them to ‘be a sponge’ before their colleagues leave. This will help retain the expertise and knowledge of ‘how things are done around here,’ which inevitably are not documented in any process.

Large scale redundancies are challenging for remaining employees and there needs to be careful and consistent change management and a real focus on people. How you know them, involve them, prepare them and deliver to them will affect future profitability.

 

Further resources:

Take our free online Change Readiness Assessment