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.

 

 

Four ways to create communications tools that last

Those of us who work in communications frequently support our organisation through major change. And for change managers, often the most challenging part of delivering change is what happens after the project has finished.  We need to find ways of embedding the new processes or behaviours and making them stick.

This calls for communications tools that last, are repeatable and sustainable, and have a life beyond the project.

During business change, you’re asking colleagues to change the way they work. They’ll need reliable information, clear motivation and moreover, a shared story that connects any current disruptions to how things will be in the future.

It’s a time to invest in ‘sustainable communication tools’ – these are tools that come to life the more they’re used. For example, an online portal sustained by its own user community, or a visual identity that brings impact and character wherever it’s used. A colleague of mine calls them ‘Future-proof tools’.

Done right, these brilliant concepts can pay for themselves quickly. They’ll inspire people to share content and contribute their own; they can create a stronger sense of a collective journey to a common goal.

Based on our extensive client experience, here are four things to focus on to create effective, long-term communications tools:

1. Culture fit. Devise a tool that suits how people interact now

It’s a common mistake to introduce a platform, like an enterprise social network, that’s at odds with an existing culture. Change teams may hope that people will somehow change their ways when they see it. However culture is, by nature, hard to adjust and successful programmes will work within their audience’s current preferences. There’s room to adjust engagement methods later if people start to become more adventurous.  Also, tools cannot be just left to manage themselves.  You will need to maintain them regularly by prompting people for content, asking questions and making suggestions.  While this can be time consuming to begin with – it will become easier over time, if successful.

2. Usability. Strip back and simplify

It can make sense to offer just a little information, if it means the bigger picture is easier to understand.  We’ve been working with a pharma company who found that complex new role descriptions were getting in the way of business change. People were distracted by the terminology and said they switched off when they received emails about it. The client took a fresh stakeholder management approach using an online campaign to simplify who does what. A team member said: “These people are scientists, inquisitiveness is part of workplace culture. Start with something simple and they’ll ask the right questions as and when they need to”.  So if you’ve developed a campaign that needs to run, keep things simple.  People like ‘simple’.  They are faced with complicated jargon every day so would welcome any effort made to make things easier for them to understand and act on.

3. Identity. Give the programme some character

A great identifier can increase the sense of a shared journey for everyone going through change. It could be a name, image or any visual that works with the organisation’s brand. We’d call it a communications tool because it does an important job in connecting activities together. For example, an oil and gas client won awards for its use of a three day change event to support major change. A strong programme identity ran through diverse activities, highlighting the fact that everything’s connected.

4. Involvement. People will only carry ‘their’ communications tool

Regardless of format, a communications tool will grow because people want it to. The more relevant it feels to individuals, the more they’ll invest. For example, companies often appoint ‘change champions’ but unless these individuals feel in control they’ll struggle to truly ‘champion’ change. Recognising this, a client created a guidance document for its new change champions. It provided key facts and pointers. Champions could talk about change in their own words, but with confidence supported by the right facts.

Read our blog for ideas on how to ensure people are onboard for your change journey

 

Overall, the true test of a sustainable communications tool is whether it connects people to the same purpose, and has a life after the project closes.  We like to pop back to clients to see how they are getting on with the sustainable tools left behind.  Given the right support and guidance, we are often surprised at how well they are working.

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.