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As a change manager how do I improve my company’s agilityAs a change manager how do I improve my company’s agility

As a change manager how do I improve my company’s agility

It is 2022 and at the beginning of the year, we reflect on the previous year that has been.  A year ago most of us were praying for the end of Covid so that we can move back to ‘normal’.  One year on, here we are again.  Covid disruptions are even more severe and widespread.  Not only are we still amidst continuous business disruptions compared to a year ago, but probably even more severe.  

We see lots of memes around social media of people wanting to forget the past year with the difficulty of life caused by Covid.  And a year ago it was the same.  What we are learning is that change and disruption will not be going away any time soon.  The only thing we can do to support our organisations is to continue to build change agility.  With better change agility, organizations are better able to respond to constant and continuous change.

The big positive for change managers is more than ever, change is now the centre of attention for businesses.  In the past, many would struggle to position management conversations about the importance of managing and leading change.  That is no longer the case.  Even the most backward and change immature businesses are thrust in the midst of constant change.  We no longer need to raise this as a topic of focus.

This means now is the opportune time to utilise the focus on change to gear up the organisation’s readiness and capability to respond to the constant change in the longer term.  More than ever now is the time to pitch to your organisation about the importance of building the right ‘change agility muscles’ so that the organisations can remain competitive and in business.

What are some of the benefits of agile organisations?

We can see quite stark examples of organisations that are agile versus those that are not.  Businesses that jumped on web offerings have benefited versus those that have relied purely on brick-and-mortar channels.  Other businesses have diversified their offering whilst others have reduced their store footprint.

Mckinsey studies have shown that with successful agile transformations, organisations can achieve significant business improvements.  Not just surviving, successful companies have achieved 30% better customer satisfaction, 30% improvement in operational performance, 5-10 times speed in driving change and decision making and ranking higher in innovation compared to peers.  These organisations are also 30% better at engaging employees and 30% more efficient in their operations through fewer handovers, reduced overhead with clear focus areas.

However, as a change manager, how can I move the dial on improving my organisation’s agility for change? As a solitary individual how does one person influence an organisation?  This is especially when you may not have the decision making authority nor the power?  As a change manager you have your project work defined.  How can you do this without boiling the ocean which may not be part of your bread-and-butter role?

These are 5 ways to improve your organisation’s agility as a change manager:

1. Influence your project sponsor and business owner to lead agility.

A part of the change manager’s role is to help influence and to equip stakeholders with the right skills to drive the change.  This starts with your own project.  As a project, assess the skills of your project sponsor and business owner.  Do they have the experience and skills to lead agility practices as a part of overall change leadership?

These may include:

  • Ability to spot changing and emerging trends that may impact the organisation’s business
  • Balance the oversight of immediate daily operational trends and insights, against longer-term and more strategic patterns and trends that may emerge
  • Ability to work across disciplines in influencing change
  • Promotion and advocacy of constant experimentation and testing of new ideas and concepts, supporting experimental failures as they arise
  • Lead behaviours that support organisational learning, whether its learning from within the industry outside the industry, using historical data, or through innovation incubation teams
  • Savviness with shifting technological trends and use cases that could implicate the business

Work with your sponsor and business owner and help to identify key required agility leadership behaviours. Partner with them and coach as necessary to support these behaviours. Collaborate and come up with a skills development plan if necessary.

2. Embed agility practices within the implementation design of your project.

To support business agility the first step from a project perspective is to ask how the project benefits can be protected and sustained even in times of constant disruption and uncertainty.  Asking this question is the first step to take.  Simply asking this may help you re-shape the project’s approach in its implementation and the work involved.

Some of the ways in which you can design agility into your project include:

  • Designing flexible role and team structures where appropriate to ensure that any workload or role changes can be easily flexed and catered for in case of future changes
  • Designing the right skills and competency requirements into business roles as a part of role requirements, including agile leadership, experimentation, work approach flexibility, and reporting/data fluency
  • Building agile business rhythms and routines into business readiness and future end-state designs.  These may include stand-ups, business scanning and review practices, and agile iteration practices
  • Work closely with your business representatives and subject matter experts within your project and leverage them as anchors for agility practices into the business
  • Leverage your pilots as agility experiments in designing agility components into your change implementation.  For example, use the pilot as a test from which to build agility components so as to further change agility in the rest of the project roll out

3. Proactively participate in change centre of excellence, or if this does not exist, built a change network with other change managers and interested business representatives

Leverage the power of other change practitioners in other projects and across the business to collaborate and build a common approach to further change agility in the business.  Work with others to come up with ways to influence the business and build practices that will help the business strive in times of disruption and change.  Don’t underestimate the power of like-minded representatives across the business.  Each representative acts as an influencing node from which powerful tactics and practices can be driven into the business.  

Work across projects to build one view of change impacts.  By building this integrated view of change impacts across multiple projects, you are also helping the business connect the dots and build an integrated way of getting ready for all changes, not just yours.  An integrated view of change can help you:

  • See a holistic picture of what is going to change
  • Prepare the business for what is going to change across the board, and this is made easier by knowing what will be changing
  • Utilise the changes in the roadmap to design a series of agility tests to prepare the business for challenges further down the track in the roadmap

4. Liberalising data and support swift decision making

Historically, in hierarchical companies data is usually restricted to select managers.  With digitisation there is an opportunity to give power to a much larger number of employees to access data and through this be more aware of the changing needs of the company.  Liberalising data to make faster and better decisions is one of the key trends of digitisation.  This is also a key enabler for change agility.  With easier data access for a greater number of employees, decisions can be made by those who are most familiar with the work context, on a timely fashion.  This ease of data access means that someone does not need to wait for rounds of approvals to make decisions.

This also applies to change data.  Rather than restricting the access of change impact data to a select few managers, liberalising this across a larger number of managers and team leaders can help to paint a clearer picture of change and help equip the business’ readiness for change. 

The ease of acess to data does not just mean the raw data itself, but ease also implies the ease of understanding the format of the data.  Pre-configured data visualisation and charts are valuable since the user will not need to go through long training sessions in order to use the data.  By making the data easily understood and make sense, the business can then balance forecasted change against impending change disruptions that may not be forecasted.

5. Change scenario planning

Scenario planning is an exercise where a facilitated team reviews the existing operations and the external business environment to try and forecast differing business scenarios.  Scenarios are then used to build the right tracking signals.  The business may have already built safeguards toward this scenario, or a clear set of next steps in which to deal with the progress toward this scenario.   

Not a lot of projects conduct scenario planning, as scenario planning is typically conducted by strategy and planning functions.  However, undertaking scenario planning can help build in the right rail guards to safeguard against different scenarios before they emerge.  

Work with your project team and business stakeholders to undergo an annual scenario planning exercise in which to prepare the business for various environmental disruptions and challenges.  Scenario planning does not need to be a long, formal, drawn-out process.  It could be as simple as spending a day exploring what the future holds, having done the homework to prepare for what the data could be telling us.  After identifying various scenarios, ensure you name each scenario, with a meaningful analogy if needed so that it’s more meaningful and easier to remember for the team.  

You can also put in practice scenario planning on a smaller scale.  Within certain junctures of the project you can build in mini-scenarios of the various change outcomes that may occur, and build in the right tracking metrics and reporting to see which scenario is emerging.  

You can also use scenario planning to work through multiple changes across the projects and change landscape.  Use similar concepts to work-through options in sequencing and prioritisation and what this means to change implementation timelines and tactics.  For example, are there ways in which implementation may be combined across projects?  Or can releases be broken down into smaller change bites to aid adoption and cater for limited business capacity?

There are many ways in which you as a singular change manager can influence and drive significant agility changes within your organisation.  Here we outline 5 major ways in which you can do this.  Since disruption and ongoing change is not going away, this is the opportune time for change practitioners to grab this window of opportunity and work with the business to develop and design change agile organisations.  Not only will your project have a significant better chance of realising its targeted benefits, so will other projects in the pipeline.

How to implement change process when your business is not change matureHow to implement change process when your business is not change mature

How to implement change process when your business is not change mature

Often we hear change practitioners call out the challenges of working with organisations that are not change mature.  Yes it is easier for change practitioners to work within organisations that are more mature in managing change.  This means that the change concepts and approaches are easily understood and adopted.  This also means that you don’t need to spend a lot of time covering the foundational approaches of change before driving project results.

When organisations are less change mature, change practitioners need to do a lot more level setting work to explain their role, and foundational change management concepts.  For example, the importance of engagement and authenticity, and getting feedback from stakeholder groups prior to change implementation.

Structured communication and learning channels may need to be setup.  Without these being established, messages may not be flowing between the targeted stakeholder groups.  

However, every organisation is in a different continuum in their development of their change maturity.  How do we work with organisations that simply do not have in place a lot of the foundational capabilities of managing change?

Frame everything as a part of general business management

15 years ago when I was at Intel there was no change management function per se.  There were also no dedicated change management professionals.  What we know now as change management was covered under the work of Project Managers and the Human Resources Organizational Development function.  Most managers were not familiar with change management concepts or applications. 

However, from a learning and development perspective what Intel did well was to integrate managing change concepts within general management skills.  All levels of management development included a component of managing change.  After all, this is an organisation in a fast-changing hi-tech environment where change is a normal part of how the industry evolves.

In particular, first-line manager, second-line manager as well as senior manager development programs all had general management components.  Everything ranging from setting clear goals and expectations, communicating clearly, asking for and receiving feedback, driving for results, supporting and developing the team, were all foundational parts of managerial development.  As a result, the organisation is quite used to ongoing changes either operational, structural or strategic ones.

The point here is that in order to drive successful change, it may not be necessary to have a dedicated change function nor formalised change management development programs.  Change management is a part of general management, just like human resources or operations management.  

The challenge for the change practitioner is to diagnose which parts of the fabric of the organisation is not change mature, and therefore could become potential obstacles for successful change process implementation.  These may include:

  • The ability of targeted leaders in leading change successfully (judging by previous change history)
  • The ability of impacted stakeholder groups including employees in trusting leaders in undergoing the change process
  • The existence of various learning and engagement platforms and processes from which change implementation may leverage throughout the initiative
  • Experience in undergoing change initiatives that follow a structured rigour where stakeholder consultation, ongoing tracking of results, and discipline in execution are adhered to
  • Planning capability in engaging stakeholders using clear fact-based visualisation of impact activities and using this to balance and sequence overall business capacity

After identifying those elements that could potentially impede the successful execution and adoption of change, the next task is to ‘frame’ your work around improving business processes and capabilities to support initiative success.  And the trick of doing this well in change immature organisations is to frame it without using change concepts or jargon.

As hard as it may seem, some of the terms you may want to avoid include:

  • change leadership capability
  • burning platform
  • change champions
  • change vision
  • change approach/strategy
  • change readiness

I know! This sounds like an impossible feat not to use standard change jargon and concepts.  However, this is the key to engaging with organisations that are less change mature.  Instead of change-specific language, try using general business terms instead.  These are some examples:

  • Instead of change leadership capability, leader behaviours required
  • Instead of burning platform, articulating the clear reasons for the change
  • Instead of change champions, business unit initiative reps
  • Instead of change vision, initiative end-state
  • Instead of change approach/strategy, leading our people through the initiative
  • Instead of change readiness, implementation or initiative readiness

In framing your change approach and plan and ‘translating’ this into business-speak.  There are 2 key levels to focus on.

1. Strategic

This is about cutting through to the core of why we are changing and how the change helps to meet a particular strategic goal.  For low change mature stakeholders, this needs to be as basic as possible.  So, none of the lofty elevator pitches that your corporate communications person has carefully crafted.  But, a lay-man wording of why the change is needed and how this helps the organisation.

2. Operational

This is one of the most critical parts of dissecting the change.  It is about breaking down your change approach into the various elements that impact the operations of the business.  It is laying out the operational activities that are being planned to drive stakeholders through the change process.  For example,

  • What process changes will mean for the frontline consultant, in terms of work steps, bandwidth, reporting, collaboration, work focus areas, etc.
  • What technology changes will team for team work in terms of who does work, the frequency of exchanges, the speed and process of decision making, audit tracing, 

Frame change activities as a part of project steps

Another challenge in working with less change mature organisations is positioning project change implementation activities in a way that resonates and make sense.  To make things simple for the business, try and use as least jargon as possible and explain the ‘why’ and purpose of each activity.

Here are some examples.

Change impact assessment -> Why is this needed?  

  • The assessment defines in detail what is changing and how this affects different parts of the organisation, whether is people, process, customer, technology, etc.
  • How to use it? After understanding in detail what is changing, this then helps us plan out how to engage the impacted groups of people, and it also helps us to determine how to give them the right skills and support

Stakeholder matrix -> Why is this needed?  

  • This breaks down which groups of people by business unit, function, team, role, in terms of how we plan to engage with them, using what engagement channels, and how critical or influential they are to the success of the project.
  • How to use it? The information on the groups of people impacted by this project determines those we engage with and how we engage with them.  It also determines those we need to support with the right skills and know-how.  Having the right information of those impacted means that we don’t miss groups of people that we should be engaging with. 

It starts with one – finding the first sponsor/champion

Even if less mature organisations there will be managers who ‘get’ what you are trying to do in driving change.  They may not know the terminology, the concepts nor the ways to measure change effectiveness.  However, experienced managers should intuitively understand the importance of engagement, measurement, setting clear goals and expectations, skills, and capabilities.

When you start to work your way around the organisations you should come across them.  They can help to either ‘sponsor’ your project if they are in the right position and their role has the influencing power over your project.  He/She may not be the ‘project sponsor’, instead, a political sponsor who is influential enough to create clout to drive movement in the change process.

You may also come across various potential ‘champions’ who are passionate, positive about the change, and diligent enough that you can work with to channel change energy into the various stakeholder groups.  These champions may be frontline level, first-line manager, or senior managers.  

Remember, any change starts with one person.  One by one, the change takes shape and the influence takes place through each interaction and each engagement.  Even if you can only have a small number of champions, you will be amazed at the results you can achieve through the dedication of the few.

Use data to tell stories

Even in less change mature organisations, managers use manage to manage the business.  This means, if you can gather the right change data to tell the story of how the initiative may pan out across the business, you can easily communicate and influence the business.  Especially in less change mature businesses, data is absolutely key.  

What are some of the ways in which change data can help to crystalise the importance of change tactics and approaches?

Change impact data can tell a visual and influential story of what is going to happen to the organisation.  For example:

  1. Which parts of the organisation are more impacted?  What roles? What are the relative sizes of impact?
  2. How much time is required for particular roles as part of change implementation activities throughout the implementation phase?
  3. What’s the timing of implementation activities and how do these overlap with other project activities or operational priorities?
  4. Scenarios of implementation roadmap including potential risks and benefits of alternative scenarios 

Other data can be used to tell stories of the progress of the project include, change readiness assessment results, training completion rates, training session satisfaction feedback, stakeholder readership of knowledge article pages, and attendance and engagement level at briefing or town hall sessions.

To read more about measuring change visit our Ultimate Guide to Measuring Change.

The Ultimate Guide to Data (vs. methodology) Driven Change ApproachThe Ultimate Guide to Data (vs. methodology) Driven Change Approach

The Ultimate Guide to Data (vs. methodology) Driven Change Approach

Most change practitioners follow a standard change approach.  For the past 20 years popular change management content have focused mainly on one part of the discipline – change methodology.  As a new-ish discipline there has been a big demand for the ‘how to’ in change management.  These include how to follow a sequence of steps in executing a project, and step-by-step path to becoming a better change leader.  Clear easy-to-follow steps with associated acronyms have dominated our discipline. A data-driven change approach has not been on the horizon for most organisations.

Is following a methodology bad?  Well, not necessarily.  A methodology helps to instil critical steps that may ensure that a minimum set of outcomes be achieved in implementing a change initiative.  The assumption is that by following these steps, a set of basic work is done that it would be harder to fail.  Especially for less experienced change practitioners, following a methodology is highly beneficial.  

After while, many also tend to rely on their ‘experience’ and tend to apply similar approaches for most change initiatives.  This may be OK if the stakeholders and change initiatives are all similar.  However, as stakeholders evolve with changes and new changes take place that are more ‘transformational’ or require different attitudes and skills, then what has worked in the past may not work in the future.

We know that the most popular Google keyword searches in Change Management are mostly related to methodology.  For example, some of the most popular keywords include change management process, prosci change management, adkar, etc.

The most popular Google searches on change management are mostly do with change methodology

However, the bigger question is should we continue to follow a methodology-driven approach in designing our change approach?  In a nutshell, for more experienced change practitioners …. No.  For the rest of the article let’s explore why this is the case.

What are the benefits of a data-driven change approach?

  • The design of the change approach is supported by data and therefore less biased by personal preferences and unsupported opinions, and as a result when you present the change approach you are less likely to face objections and disagreements
  • With the right data, you’re able to articulate the risk of not using a particular change approach
  • Ability to take a ‘whole picture’ view of the change landscape in making the right change implementation decisions
  • Match the right change approach to the sponsor and executive leadership styles so that the initiative is leveraging those leadership facets, with any supplemented tactics as needed

What is a data-driven change approach?

A data-driven change approach is a change approach that is informed by data.  What does this look like?

Business case 

With a data driven change approach, historical data of change and business performance informs the business case.  Possible data that could be used for business case may include:

  • Historical data on business improvement performance results, especially targets vs actual results
  • Current operational indicator performance and any previous change and business improvement interventions
  • Change maturity of impacted business units including operational maturity in supporting change implementation

Scoping

During initial scoping of the initiative, the following critical data elements may be taken into account:

  • Use historical change initiative outcomes to rate potential sizes of impact on business units
  • Use easily available data in the areas of people, business operations, and process/systems to assess spread of the impact

Planning

This is traditionally one of the most important parts of change approach design and the phase where all facets of the determined change approach is documented and agreed by stakeholders.  Taking a data-driven approach means:

  • Using only demonstrable data and evidence to derive an fact-driven change approach
  • If there are elements of the change where there has not been previous data available, then early experiments may be designed to test the selected change approach
  • Stakeholder engagement approaches are determined based on what has worked in the past, e.g. survey responses from town hall sessions, leader feedback,  
  • Communications channel and content design are designed based on previous demonstrable methods, e.g. communications hit rate, ‘like’ rate, article viewership, etc.
  • Project priority ratings across initiatives to ensure clear alignment for stakeholders
  • Portfolio level change impact information from other projects to assist in change release sequencing and capacity planning

Examples of portfolio-level change data visualization from The Change Compass

BCG has come up with a simple 2 by 2 grid for determining change strategies.  The 2 axes are ‘clarity of ends and ‘clarity of means’.   Clarity of ends refers to what the end state looks like, and clarity of means refer to how clear the path is to getting to the end state.  

Using this grid there are 5 major different types of change strategies:

  1. River crossing
  2. Escaping the swamp
  3. Souting and wandering
  4. Planned itinerary
  5. Hill climbing

It is important to note that whilst this may be a good general reference in determining the change approach, leveraging evidence and data in other aspects of change can greatly determine the right change strategy to be adopted.  

In fact if you’re driving a large multi-year transformation, it is likely that you may need to adopt different change approaches during different phases of the program.  It also depends how your stakeholders are responding and what approach best suit the situation.

For example, a ‘hill climbing’ approach could be appropriate if it is clear from your stakeholder feedback that upcoming milestones are not super clear.  On the other hand, the change is complex and requires persistence and unwielding push from the senior management to continue.  Whereas, in the beginning of the transformation journey it maybe that a lot of exploration and discover is required to figure out what the change looks like. In this earlier phase, a ‘escape the swamp’ may be the change approach.

Implementation

This is one of the most critical parts of initiative roll out as this is when the rubber hits the road and change starts to take place.  Some of the data-driven aspects of the change approach involves:

  • Continuous pulsing and checking of stakeholder readiness
  • Regular surveys and dip-stick checks on adoption behaviours and change sentiments from impacted stakeholders
  • Monitor business operations performance related indicators that track movements in change adoption
  • Social media sentiment analysis of impacted stakeholder groups, and types and amount of questions asked at appointed communication channels, and other potential indicators on people capability in adopting the change
  • Training attendance rates, and participant test scores

Ascertaining what the change environment looks like for impacted stakeholders is a key linchpin for a data-driven change approach during the implementation phase.  When the ‘rubber hits the road’ as execution starts to take place, you may find that things are not going exactly as planned.  It could be that stakeholders completely did not understand the positioning or that change tactics in imparting the value of the initiative did not resonate.

On the other hand, it could be that there is a myriad of other initiatives that the impacted business units are experiencing.  Therefore, it is difficult for employees to focus on one set of changes, when there are several types of changes happening concurrently.  With lack of focus, coordination and clear priority set by leaders, it often happens that none of the changes land successfully due to saturation and lack of focus.

With the right portfolio level data, it is possible to identify these risks and avoid them altogether.  Even if you don’t have easy access to portfolio level change impact data, at least have the conversation with your business stakeholders to understand what else is happening and how are things landing from an employee perspective.

Post release

Even after go-live it is important to keep tracking the change adoption to ensure that there is sufficient continual focus to reach full benefits.  In fact this is one of the key reasons why a lot of projects fail.  It is because the whole project has been wrapped up too quickly post release and there is not enough accountability and focus placed on continually achieving the benefits targeted.

What are some of the data points to focus on?  This depends on the nature of the change.  Typical metrics to focus on include:

  • System usage rates
  • Cost reduction
  • Revenue increase
  • Transaction speed
  • Process efficiency
  • Speed of decision making
  • Customer satisfaction rate
  • Employee productivity rate
  • Incidents of process violation

For a comprehensive article on how to measure change visit The Ultimate Guide to Measuring Change.

What does a data-driven change environment look like?

In the previous section we focused on all the various data points that can be leveraged throughout a project to make data-driven change decisions to move the initiative forward toward the right trajectory.

In an organisation where data drives how change is designed, orchestrated and implemented … what would this look like?

Let’s approach this in 5 different themes in order to describe core practices that should take place to support an environment that thrives on data-driven change. 

1. Democratisation of data/Openness to share data

Data democratisation has been an emerging them in the IT and analytics world.  What it means is basically that everyone has access to a range of data and that there aren’t unnecessary gatekeepers that control the data and stopping the data being shared.  The data can be used to run the business, understand what is happening, conduct rootcause analysis and overall make better business decisions.

The overall goal is to have as many people as possible access data with little barriers in accessing the data and knowing how to read and understand the data.

Imagine an organisation where employees and managers have access to change data and have the ability to understand what is happening, how each other are responding to change, their concerns and how this is supporting or impeding change.  There is significant power in harnessing the greater understanding for the change that is being driven, to garner involvement, engagement and connection.

2. Investing in capturing and publishing data

An assumption in the previous theme is that the organisation has the focus on collecting and harvesting the data.  This includes change data.  Without the investment in gathering change data there will be nothing to work with.

There is no doubt that most progressive organisations understand the importance of investing in data collection and analysis.  There are many ways to determine the value of the data.  These include opportunity cost, regulatory fines or settlement value.  In terms of the value of change data, the best way to understand it is in terms of opportunity cost, where without the right data there could be significant cost in making the wrong change tactic decisions.

Further more, there is significant benefit in monitizing the company’s historical change data.  Some examples of this include the ability to use historical change data to determine seasonal workloads on particular stakeholder groups and roles.  Change data may also be linked to other business performance data to track overall change adoption and benefit realisation.  Let’s say one project is aiming for $2 million in benefits, and across the project portfolio the total benefits targeted is $15 million.  Even if change data supports just 20% of the achievement of full benefits, this equates to $3 million just in terms of tangible financial benefits.  There are also non-tangible benefits that can be tracked as well.

3. Incorporating data governance

Data governance is about defining who within the company has control over data assets and how these data assets might be used.  This includes people, process, and technology required to manage and protect the data assets.

For IT, Marketing and HR departments the concept of data governance is part of the expected parts of managing the function.  There are often dedicated roles, teams and committees in undertaking data governance processes and systems.

For change data, there is also a need to ensure that there is some level of data governance.  This does not necessary mean building a complex function if there is no need for such.  What it does mean is to have concerted focus and effort to ensure that the change data is managed in a way to ensure that the data is achieving the value that the organisation is looking for.

Some elements of data governance here may include:

Data storage and operations: Ensuring that the data is stored in a safe, and easily accessible location

Data security:  Ensuring that the right privacy and access level is provided, however without so much control that user access is inhibited

Data integration and interoperability:  The change data should be easily extracted, shared, replicated and utilised across systems if required

Documents and content:  There are different types of change data, and the trick is to ensure all these different types of files and data are easily accessible

Data quality:  Ensuring that the data is updated sufficiently and can be trusted is key.  “Rubbish in, rubbish out” is a common phrase that is true nonetheless.  Data that is not constantly refreshed is also one that will not deliver value to the organisation.

4. Leadership support

Like everything with managing change, leadership support is critical.  Some go as far as saying that without leadership support no change will fly.  This may not be true since there are lots of examples of grassroots-driven changes that are not initially driven by leaders.  The same goes with driving a data-driven change environment.

Getting the blessings from your senior leaders will go a long way to driving a ‘data is king’ change environment.  However, even if your leaders do not start out being your champions, there are ways to nourish and develop their support.  

In business, leaders naturally look to data to make various decisions.  Traditionally in change management tangible and visual data has not always been plentiful to support decision making.  As a result, leaders may not know how to read, interpret and utilise change data.  You will need to educate and support leaders to understand how to utilise change data and guide them through examples and scenarios.

5. Collaboration across initiatives

Teams are effective for various reasons.  When you’re in a team you are able to form strong personal relationships and receive that support that you need.  Through ongoing work with your team you can focus on a set of outcomes that you can contribute together with the team.

However, the nature of teams is that you will by design see other teams as ‘outsiders’ and have less intimate relationship with them.  Those you are less familiar with you also develop less trust.  

And as a result, project teams tend to stick within their own teams and focus on working with their particular set of stakeholders.  However, to design a better employee or customer experience in planning for change, initiatives need to work together.  There will be plenty of situations where changes in releases, planned activities will be better shifted to achieve a better employee outcome.  

In situations where there is multiple releases impacting the same stakeholder group, most will leave it to the project management office to make the priority call.  However, the process of escalating the issue for decisions to be made takes time and may sometimes create unnecessary anxiety across concerned project teams.  A better way to approach this with the right change data is that project teams can proactively work together as a part of release and stakeholder readiness planning.

What is the overall opportunity in taking a data-driven vs. methodology driven change approach?  Hopefully this article has convinced you some of the advantages and how to go about applying it.  “Data is the new oil for the digital economy”.  With Covid the reliance of business on data has been a wakeup call.  This will continue to intensity in the years to come.  For change practitioners we also need to adopt a data-centric approach in our work with the organisation.  The alternative could be that we lose our influence, trust and relevance for the business in this digital world where data is embedded within all facets of our lives.  

What will your next step be in taking a more data-driven change approach?

To learn more about building change analytics capability click here.

Data-driven change environment (infographic)Data-driven change environment (infographic)

Data-driven change environment (infographic)

Data is king. This is especially in current times of uncertainty. With data comes power, influence and outcomes. Lots of disciplines have leveraged the power of data to drive better outcomes. Marketers would not dream of doing any part of their job without data. Operations is driven by data in all aspects of managing the business. Even Human Resources is heavily focused on numbers, pay and benefits, employee sizes and structures, cultural measurements and employee sentiment trends.

For change management data must also be the core pillar that drives our work.

Unfortunately for a lot of practitioners the only data used tends to be sizing number of people impacted, counting the number of people being trained, training evaluation scores or change readiness sentiment surveys.

Surely, there is more we can do to adopt a more data-driven change approach?

Absolutely! Stay tuned for our upcoming article on how to do this.

In the meantime, here is an infographic on painting a picture of what a data-driven change environment looks like.

There are 8 core components:

  1. Focus on capturing initiative and portoflio-wide data
  2. Data-driven change approach throughout project phases
  3. Take user/business centric versus project centric view
  4. Investing in data insight capability building
  5. Leader sponsorhip in data-led investment and focus
  6. Collaboration/Openness to share data
  7. Using data in routine business/project meetings
  8. Incorporate data governance within roles and responsibilities

To download the infographic, click here.

The one approach every initiative should incorporate post-CovidThe one approach every initiative should incorporate post-Covid

The one approach every initiative should incorporate post-Covid

The past 1.5 years has been super challenging for most organisations.  The constant stop and start interruptions of Covid has taken a toll on most employees.  One minute we are going back to work the next minute we are not.  One minute we have Covid cases under control, the next minute infection rates are out of control.  

However, corporate initiatives are not in any way slowed down by Covid.  If anything there is more organisational change resulting from Covid.  Covid has not only resulted in ways of working changes, but also deep industry, economy, consumer and technology changes.

Now that most economies are starting to come out of lockdowns and opening up, what does this mean for initiatives?  Well, amidst the atmosphere of the emotional and psycho-social turmoil that has been the journey for most employees as a result of COVID, the most important change approach can be summarised by one word ….

OPTIMISM

 Why is it important to incorporate a sense of optimism within every change initiative?

After more than a year of being isolated and experiencing the various disruptions of not being able to have a normal life of shopping, visiting friends and travelling, we need to acknowledge and reset the mood.  How we approach work is indeed affected by the overall mood around us.  Resetting the mood and instilling a sense of positivity and optimism is absolutely critical.  

Without optimism, employees may still be harbouring the lingering mood of dealing with Covid.  Negativity will never help to transition people during the change process.  It is hope and optimism that will carry energy and excitement which will then drive action.

Think of the last time you were feeling down and weary.  What were some of your behaviours?  Typical behaviours when you’re feeling down in the dumps include not connecting with family and friends, being socially withdrawn, disruptions in sleep, being less physically active, etc.  You were also more likely to think negatively, such as “things won’t get better”, “there’s no point trying”, “might as well not try”.  These are definitely not the thoughts and behaviours that will help people transition during the change process.

So how do we instil a sense of optimism within our change initiatives?

1. Celebrate the ‘return to normal’ (whatever normal looks like!).  As companies start to gradually have employees return to work, initiatives must also support this by creating a sense of excitement and positivity.  Think of approaches such as:

  • Uplifting speeches by leaders
  • Gift objects such as cupcakes and drinks as a part of the celebration theme
  • Online events promoting positive discussions and sharing
  • Social events fostering activity and excitement

2. Highlight new ideas and approaches to the initiative.  To demonstrate that things are no longer just ‘ho-hum’ as was the case during Covid, adopt new engagement and communication approaches to liven up the initiative.  Even better, ask impacted stakeholders to come up with bright ideas of how to generate a renewed sense of optimism

3. Leverage the power of communication to impart excitement and positivity.  Incorporate bright and colourful images, quotes and graphic themes to instil positive energy.  

4. Display consistent behaviour.  There is nothing worse than having positive themes throughout, only to have initiative leads speak with monotone voice supplemented by lethargic behaviour.  We are social animals.  We can ‘smell’ low energy.    You may need to proactive coach your leaders to ensure that they are displaying the right behaviours across all modalities …. The tone of voice, gestures, responses, reactions, etc.  All aspects of behaviour can impart mood.  And your job is to design and shape them to be one that is more positive.

Behavioural science approach to managing changeBehavioural science approach to managing change

Behavioural science approach to managing change

Adopting a behavioural science approach to managing change means leveraging scientific research about human behaviours and using this to better manage change. A lot of the common practices in change management are not always based on scientific research. What is assumed as common change approaches may in fact not be substantiated by research and data.

We talk to an industry veteran of behavioural science, Tony Salvador. Tony has 30+ years of research background behind him and a long-time ex-Inteller and Senior Fellow. At Intel, Tony travelled around the globe researching human factors and how people behave with technology.

There are many valuable takeaways for the change practitioner.

Some of these include:

  • Engineering psychology and human centric design
  • Analogy of pickaxe and the change approach
  • Principle of aversion to loss
  • People involvement and transactional change
  • Determining the nature of leadership relationship with employees
  • Story telling and insight into change culture
  • Example of Brazilian translator and people’s stories
  • Power of observation and listening
  • The nature of relationships and how they determine change 
  • Change rationale in weaving in multiple changes
  • Involving people in reporting to achieve authenticity
  • Building the case and involving employees to derive case for change

Learn how The Change Compass deliver results in managing complex, multiple changes.

 See how The Change Compass helps you achieve insights, improve stakeholder ownership, through data visualization

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