The business case for change management.

We are in times of change. Especially with COVID-19 forcing many companies to consider different operating models, business transformation has taken a front-seat in the way in which companies do business. Businesses are moving their operations from bricks and mortar buildings to digital working environments by putting in place their business continuity plans (BCPs). We at LaNubia think that many companies will see the value in the remote working arrangements in their BCPs and move to make their BCPs their business as usual (BAU).

So, as you work to move your BCPs to BAU, here are some of the pitfalls that our experienced change management advisors at LaNubia have seen in the past, along with some advice to consider as you transform the way of working in your business.

In many organizations, change management is often just a bullet point in the project plan and change agents (internal and/or external) become active only in the last stages of business transformation initiatives. The last-minute entry of change agents does more damage than close out the project on a successful note. The main reason is that the change agents are not aligned with the project from the get-go and are expected to steer the ship once the architects, designers, developers, and SMEs have been offloaded. Indeed, this does not work, and the projects starts to bring in negative returns.

Our Solution: Bring in change specialists at project kick-off and regularly include them throughout the business transformation journey. They should be fully aware of the project goals, business outcomes, scope change, go-live impediments, project risks, and be included in decisions.

Often, change management is targeted only at a higher level (the decision makers) without considering the impact a change could have on all the stakeholders involved. When a large-scale enterprise is thinking to transform the organization by moving its legacy platforms and systems to the cloud, the scope spans the entire work value chain. The nature of the impact for the recruitment function is entirely different than that for the payroll function. When the change management efforts are directed only toward the CEO and 1-2 levels below that, the outcomes are not going to be achieved.

Our Solution: Decompose the change management strategy and communication into smaller chunks that are segmented for each of the stakeholder group and speaks to their language. Consider making use of a stakeholder map. According to Miro, stakeholder mapping is the visual process of laying out all the stakeholders of a product, project, or idea on one map. The main benefit of a stakeholder map is to get a visual representation of all the people who can influence your project and how they are connected.

Another pitfall is when change is introduced all at once. The business is caught off guard and causes disruption, thereby resulting in exactly the opposite outcomes. This is commonly visible in organizations that operate in the traditional waterfall way of working. In a waterfall setup, deliverables are defined up front and then shipped at once. When it comes to managing change, the same waterfall approach is taken to deliver the change in its entirety in one shot. This is overwhelming for the business users as they find it extremely difficult to transition and adopt.

Our Solution: Adapt agile way of working by introducing and managing incremental change that brings incremental value to your business. If agile is not something your organization is comfortable with, try to break the project down in to smaller set of deliverables and prioritize those by business value. Next, use the stakeholder map to engage and manage the stakeholders impacted by each of the deliverables and initiate change management activities from the beginning.

Whose change is it anyway? Companies make the mistake of not appointing someone to lead the change or often choose the wrong leader to lead the change. Just because a project might be a technology change, does not mean that the technology project leader should be the change leader. A lack of clear ownership within the business units means that each party waits on the other one to initiate change and ultimately creates chaos and trust issues.

Our Solution: Identify a change leader who is the business leader of the impacted parties, not just the business leader of the project team. As seen often in technology transformations, the change leader is not only the technology leader as technology employees are impacted but also a leader in the client side of your business who will use the new system and implement in their work environments.

Many changes fail because they do not have the right level of sponsorship. By sponsorship, we mean, an individual who has the power and resources to be able to bring this change to life. Companies believe that the owner of the project or change (see above) should be the sponsor of the project as well however encounter issues when the project is not supported throughout the organization by their peers.

Our Solution: Choose an individual in the organization who has the resources (financial, people) and is high enough in the organization to use their legitimate power to move the change forward. Ultimately this person should be the individual that most of the individuals who will experience the change will report to and often is the CEO or COO of the company in company-wide change initiatives.

All said and done, you can have all the right processes and leadership in place, but let’s face it, human beings are resistant to change. There are many reasons for this and include our innate need for control things within our working environments and the fact that humans are creatures of habit – we get used to a way of working and see it easier to just keep doing what we’re doing than to adopt a new way of working, even if in the long run that new way of working is actually easier for us.

Our Solution: Ensure that you are engaging your people in the change and create a sense of autonomy in the change for your employees. Embed this philosophy in the way that you message the change to your company and encourage your staff to own the change in the way that they can. Lastly, highlight successful implementations of the change as you see them happen within your company to inspire others to embrace the change.

Change is inevitable in any business environment and your organization’s change management methodology will determine the longevity of your business. By avoiding these six pitfalls, you can improve the likelihood of successfully managing any kind of change and ensure that your business continues to achieve outcomes and your people continue to stay engaged.

If you are facing challenges in dealing with change within your business transformation, please do reach out to us. Our trusted advisors can guide you to manage change without disrupting your business.