Whether you are adopting best practices or new technology, the odds of your project being successful without your staff and your customer changing their behaviors are about 30%. Even if your initiative has a strong start with the value proposition understood, senior leadership support, and a fully defined organizational change plan in place, your project isn’t out of the woods.
With our dependence on technology and the rapidly changing environment, the IT staff and customers are inundated with change. It is overwhelming. It is critical to understand that your communications about the project are just noise when there is so much change in the environment. In today’s workplace, on average you have to convey the same message at least six times before it has an impact.
When you stop to consider the amount of change taking place in your environment, is it any surprise that the IT staff and their customers are experiencing change fatigue? Is it surprising that your standard email, intranet posting, or newsletter article is no longer effective? Is it any surprise that many projects which have notable returns never achieve the intended value? Probably not but this doesn’t alleviate the frustration experienced by IT leadership and the customer.
But you had a strong start….What went wrong?
In today’s world, the environment you are working in changes on a daily basis. The business may have a new product they need to develop. IT may have a new security related project. You may experience a restructure. Critical resources may no longer be available.
The changing environment you work in will impact whether your project is successful. You can choose to slog through it. You just want to implement this project and move on but this is one of many scenarios that causes a failure to reach the intended return. If your goal is to implement at all costs, your project will become another statistic.
What steps should you take to effectively manage organizational change throughout the lifecycle of your best practice or new technology adoption initiative?
1) Start strong – Be sure to understand the value proposition for each stakeholder group. Consider the required behavior change and develop your organizational change plan ensuring that you focus on changing attitudes and behaviors.
2) Recognize that communication is important but to be effective you will have to be a “broken record” ensuring that you relay the same message in many different formats and venues.
3) Recalibrate your initiative at routine intervals. Adjust the milestones and timeline to account for other changes in the environment. Revisit your initial goals and objectives to ensure they still apply. Ensure your organizational change plan is adjusted as well.
4) Conduct routine stakeholder analyses throughout the initiative. Are stakeholders resisting change? If so, why? Have their needs changed? Research the root cause of change resistance and take actions to immediately address it.
5) Evaluate unintended consequences of your change. Publicly acknowledge the fallout and take action to minimize the impact.
6) Ask for feedback throughout the life of the initiative. Establish feedback mechanisms and solicit the IT staff and customer views on both successes and challenge areas.
7) Consider how the changes will be sustained once the project is over. A project has a point in time implementation. True adoption requires ensuring the change is embedded in the organization.
Managing change and achieving the intended outcome is difficult. Whether you are adopting the latest best practice in hopes of improving efficiency or implementing technology to support the latest business objective, it requires a structured approach and focus throughout the life of the project.
At AdOPT, we are transformation consultants focused on strategy, innovation, process, and culture to increase effectiveness, improve efficiency, and optimize costs. We wrote the book on organizational change in IT. For more information about our Change Adoption course, vision and strategy development, or other services, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 520-591-2427.
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