Anyone who has led a major change in their organization knows that change is painful, complicated and messy. What if there was a way to make it simpler, easier and less painful? (Note that I am using relative adjectives because NOTHING will totally eliminate these aspects of change.)
There is a widely used acronym called KISS…
Keep It Simple Silly
(insert any other “s” word here)
Here are 4 things you can do to keep things simple when it comes to implementing major change…
1. Be real and realistic
Tell people what is really happening. No corporate speak or spun messages. They can tell. That’s the being real part.
Be realistic and do not expect miracles. Get to know what can be done with the budget, talent and timelines you have available. Set expectations that can be met.
2. Adjust and adapt
This project is not going to happen the way you think it will – even with a lot of careful planning. Plan on your plan getting revamped, recast and re-everythinged as you go through the journey. Have contingencies built in to allow for the unexpected… it is expected.
3. Measure what matters
Don’t go Gantt chart and variance report crazy. Find the 2 or 3 (okay maybe 4) key metrics for defining the success of your project and keep your eyes on that prize. Make sure the people doing the work are doing the work and not distracted by tedious project report update meetings. Short, sweet and to the point is always better. Here’s a simple dashboard we use to measure how many people are at each stage of adoption.
4. Balance pull and push
Help people through the change with the right balance of compliance and commitment. Each person needs to process and accept the change in their own ay in their own time. Accept that and help them – not push them – through it. Major change will not stick until enough people have embraced the change. Understand where people are and what they need to get them through it.
Keep these four things in mind as you embark on a major change with your organization and it will help you “KISS” away a lot unnecessary disruption and stress.
Measuring the progress of people through the journey of change is a challenge for many projects. Any well run project will assume measuring “the big three” – time, tasks and budget. But what about the metric that really matters, the people dimension?
A project can be on time and on budget with all tasks completed but if there is no measure of adoption of the change how can we label it successful?
Here are 3 things to consider when measuring the people side of a project.
1/ Measure What Matters
What is adoption or buy in? Just training people on a new procedure or way of doing things does not equate to using those skills or behaviours back on the job. In the world of training and development there is a widely used notion of “levels” of training measurement. These are:
- Did they like it? – Was the training experience one that was conducive to learning i.e. materials were useful, instructor was effective, flow was easy to follow etc.
- Did they learn it? – Can you observe the person using the tool, software, skill or demonstrating a behaviour without assistance? (Usuually conducted during the learning session)
- Did they use it? – Here is the critical level of measure for this discussion. Can you observe the person using what was taught back on the job in their day to day work environment? Are they choosing to use what they learned back on the job?
It is the 3rd measure that demonstrates buy in or adoption. Make sure you’re measuring what counts.
2/ Measure the journey not just the destination
Measurement is about knowing when you have succeeded but it is also about knowing where you are on the road to getting getting to success. So having a roadmap with critical stops along the way give you information about how to adapt our support for those on the journey. Educating people about those stops also gives them a heads up on what to expect and make it easier for them to travel the journey a little easier.
3/ Keep it visual and simple
Remember that any measurement system or scorecard is a tool for the project. Sometimes maintaining and explaining the measurement system takes up almost as much time as doing the work of the project! I remember being on a project that took me one full day of updates and producing reports. The tail was wagging the dog!
Here are two simple and effective scorecards that we use to measure both the individual and organizational journey of change and each takes only minutes to produce.
Each of these provides quick insights into who is where on the journey to adoption and helps shape course corrections, extra support etc.
What gets measured gets managed is a cliche that rings true when it comes large change projects. Considering the three points above when creating your scorecard will help you keep things on track and headed towards success.
If you are a change leader, chances are you’ve heard this phrase “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” What does this mean exactly? While your strategy may be fully functional on paper, without understanding the culture (and cultures) of the workplace, that strategy may fall short in making change stick.
You’d better have a clear understanding of your company’s work culture (and cultures) before you ever embark on a change initiative.
Here are 4 things to consider regarding culture change in order to ensure a successful change.
1/ Cultures vs culture
A large scale major change will necessitate a shift in culture in order for the change to stick. In other words, a big change requires a change in cultures. Organizations are made up of many micro-cultures that come together to make up the overall company culture. Therefore, it is the changes in the micro-cultures change leaders should be focusing on. Start by identifying the micro-cultures in all key stakeholder groups that are impacted by the changes.
2/ Map culture shift by stakeholder group
Certain stakeholder groups will require a bigger culture shift than others. Mapping this by stakeholder group will give you a perspective on which change strategies and tactics you’ll need. It will also give you a chance to determine the priority level and effort needed. This will ensure you’re addressing the real effort required.
3/ Culture shift happens at Rock Bottom
Change happens as a process at various changes. The “real” cultures are tested and revealed at Rock Bottom and during the “Danger Zone” when people are most challenged. Focus your efforts especially during these stages of change for the greatest impact.
4/ Measure the journey
Keep a simple visual dashboard of the individuals and teams through the various stages of change so you know when to implement your culture shift strategies.
Use these ideas and tools and you’ll be able to make your change stick because you will be effectively dealing with the toughest aspect of change: cultures.