The #1 Change Technique


Rowing technique

 

Are you leading change in an environment with significant resistance? Are you placing the blame for the resistance on “them”? Do “they not get it”?

 

Of all the change techniques available to us, the most fundamental and pragmatic approach is to bring the impacted stakeholders of the change into the problem space.

 

How many times have you seen a large change or transformation get strategized, designed, built, and then deployed with little to no impacted stakeholder involvement? These approaches are often sold with rationalizations like…

 

1) We don’t have the talent to deal with this complex a problem.
2) We need outside perspective, not the same old way of doing things that our current employees built over the last several years.
3) If we acknowledge this change now by engaging our employees, we’ll lose control of the messaging and people will resist.
4) Its a competitive advantage to not let people know yet. We’ll include them when we are ready.

 

Secrets kill change.

 

You can mitigate resistance by…

 

1) Including the appropriate level and number of your impacted stakeholders in the understanding of the problem.
2) Designing the change solution based on some but not necessarily all the input of the impacted stakeholders.
3) Making champions out of the star impacted stakeholders who demonstrate a passion for change and “the new way”.

 

Bring your impacted stakeholders into the problem. Define “change success requirements” and you will lower the resistance.

 

 

Gamification of Change: 4 Principles


20130119-151135.jpgImagine one day you walk into your bosses office, and she tells you that she needs you to lead the newest and biggest change initiative in the company. It’s brand new, it’s sponsored by the CEO, the board is behind it, and there is no one better than you in the company to lead the team. All the opportunity you could hope for, along with all the risk!

Where would you start? Clearly this opportunity has many challenges including the validity of the strategy / initiative, funding, schedule, scope, politics, and adoption by the stakeholders. In this post, let’s focus on that last piece adoption.

In this new role, how will you win the hearts and minds of the employees so that they embrace the change and become devout evangelists not energy-sucking vampires? Let’s consider the use of gamification to increase adoption of the change. I propose that your change management efforts are ripe for Gamification.

Wikipedia defines gamification as “the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts in order to engage users and solve problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness, and learning.”

Gamification has several attributes that make it perfect for your change management efforts.

It’s social. Change management efforts require thorough stakeholder analysis and comprehensive communication plans with well designed messages to address the stakeholders. All of these are required to make your initiative “become social” within your enterprise. With the advent of social media, you get a simplification of this work. Leverage social media capabilities in your change management efforts, and you are one step closer to gamifying your change.

It’s competitive. In social games there is a degree of winners and losers. A little healthy competition is frequently a good thing. However, within this context, the competition is less about “I win, you lose” and more about “We all are making progress against the goals of the initiative and racking up some points along the way!” Are you providing the opportunity for everyone to win a badge through your change? Does everyone get to accumulate points, extra rounds, extended time?

It’s rewarding. Everyone likes to win, why not give everyone a chance to cross the finish line a champion? When everyone wins a badge, a round, a race, or trophy they are a champion for a moment. After all, leading change, is not about everyone crossing the finish line at precisely the same time, it’s about building and sustaining momentum thereby moving your stakeholders closer and closer to the finish line. Reward them along the way! If it’s not clicking yet, give Foursquare a try to see if you can become the mayor of somewhere!

It’s fun! When is the last time you said to a colleague in work “Wow, that change project was a blast!! What an expereince!” Why not? Why don’t we aspire to the same experience you have playing Temple Run or Angry Birds. How might you and the team you are leading feel if their change project was just a little more like Temple Run? Let’s make it more fun for our stakeholders!

Maybe you are leading a large change initiative now as a change / project manager or sponsor. Take a bold step and consider “how can I gamify my change project?” Get on your favorite mobile device and play a game, see how you feel about it and imagine that feeling in your stakeholders. Then, try it and let me know how it goes!

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Organizational Capability for Transformation


Navy File Photo - President of the U.S. Naval ...
Image via Wikipedia

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” – Admiral John Stockdale, USN.

How do you align the business with IT? How do you confront the reality of a business strategy when it represents a threat to the status quo? How do you align that direction with a portfolio of projects that incrementally deliver on the desired change? In order to transformation a business, company, division, or team, you need to assemble many disciplines and techniques including but not limited to: business strategy, enterprise architecture, project management, personal development, communication, and training.

There are many books, white papers, and commentary on business strategy, project management, change management, IT governance, and organizational design. However, I rarely see any transformational thought leadership that describes these concepts as organizational capabilities, or services that work together in unison. When teams have raised their capability to deliver multiple skills like this, they position themselves better for success.

In order to transform an organization, the organization needs to position itself for success by building the capability to change, or transform. Too frequently, leaders assemble only one or maybe two of the disciplines listed above to deliver significant change. Calling on Admiral Stockdale’s profound leadership, transformational leaders should have confidence in the 1 or 2 skills they have brought together to drive change, but they should also confront the reality that most transformations fail. Have you assembled all the skills and capabilities you need to be successful with your change? What additional capabilities does your team need to better position you for success? Confront your reality and adjust  your team to bring more transformational capabilities to the table.

New Website is Launched!!


3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept
Image by lumaxart via Flickr

As of this afternoon, a new website is up and running at www.businesschangeleader.com that represents all the best of a collection of Business Change Leaders. This new site represents a new firm, Business Change Leadership, that will offer business transformation, change management, leadership development, and additional services for companies that are looking for more from their business and technology teams. To learn more, please visit the site.

Most importantly, to kick-off our new company, we invite you to attend our workshop on Integrating Change and Project Management, scheduled for May 1, 2011 in Orlando, Florida in conjunction with the Association for Change Management Global Conference, as advertised in a previous post. This workshop will be co-hosted by a colleague of mine, Bill Synnot of Synnot & Associates. Bill has amassed a tremendous background of global experience over 30 years in the change management space. You can find the latest information on the workshop at www.businesschangeleader.com as well as the ability to register for the workshop using your Paypal account or credit cards.

We will continue to post blog entries here, but please be sure to visit the new website for updates and to stay in touch.

So, what have YOU transformed?


Looking south from Top of the Rock, New York City
Image via Wikipedia

At a recent networking event, a colleague of mine challenged me with a question that seems very appropriate to share at this time of year. “So tell me, what you have transformed?” Truthfully, it is a great question that makes one stop and think for a minute.

As we head into 2011, the employment headlines, American automobile sales results, and just about every other alert I get is telling me that 2011 is already going to be a better year than 2010. But let’s not leave anything up to chance.

If 2011 is going to be better than 2010, it will be because of what we do to make it that way. For those of us who are engaged in change management endeavors, business transformation activities, or just making things better in the future than they are in the past, ask yourself “What have you transformed?” And might I suggest that you be critical of yourself in the past and aim high in 2011.

Chief Change Officer (CCO) according to BusinessWeek…circa 2008!?


Peter de Reijke docent Implementation & Change...
Image by Hans on Experience via Flickr

Human Resources: The Big Issues – BusinessWeek.

I recently came across this BusinessWeek article thanks to an online acquaintance of mine at the Lead Change Group. The BusinessWeek article is dated from 2008 and states:

“First, one-third of U.S. companies anticipate installing a head of change-management, with authority and standing similar to that of a chief financial officer, by 2015. The position did not even exist a few years ago, and today only 11% of executives say their companies have such a position. That [anticipated] growth suggests the importance of managing change at corporations.”

This article leaves me with questions…

  • Are we on track to achieve this metric as a change management / business transformation discipline?
  • Do we care about this metric or do we care about the change results?
  • Given the business environment is there an argument FOR or AGAINST this formally defined role?
  • Is this a separate and distinct role from all the other “chief” roles?
  • Why can’t someone perform this role in the existing CxO structure?

While I suspect that many of us can extol the benefits of a role like this (from an academic business value perspective), I would argue that a business case for this type of role needs to be made. Put your CEO hat on, why would you dedicate this level of funding at this time in business outside of an existing role? I see the role of CIO morphing into the CCO as described by the quote from above, and I would argue strongly that your company needs these kind of skills, just not as an additional CxO at the table. Challenge your CIO to drive change. They need to have the business and technology insight to lead your company to greater achievements. Your CIO needs to understand the business, they need to then translate the business challenges into technology solutions that return value to your company. Adding a new role is tantamount to covering up the “flat areas” of your existing CxO team, which might be the best approach in the short term, but also forces you to take on a new set of challenges. Introducing a new CxO to the board meetings sounds like a change management need to me!

IT Governance Rule #2 of 3 – Make sure you are doing things right


In article 2 of a 3 part series on IT Governance, if you have a capability to make sure you are doing the right things (article 1), you need to make sure you are doing them right. With this entry, lets assume you or your organization know what matters most, and your focus is  in determining how to make sure your team delivers.

What matters more, an excellent strategy or excellent execution? If you had to pick one, which would you pick? In Making Strategy Work (2005 Wharton School Publishing – Amazon link here) Lawrence Hrebinak argues that execution of strategy is the key, not strategy definition itself. I concur and this means that this second rule is more important than rule #1, and my experience across multiple industries, countries, and economies suggest the same. It is amazing how delivery of solutions or eliminating problems “takes the noise out of the system”. In my consulting days, I was thrust into many troubled situations. In these situations my clients consistently said “if you can’t deliver on what I have already contracted to you, why do you think I would give you anything else?” Makes sense to me!

So, how do you make sure you are doing things right? Some considerations (in no particular order):

  • Project Management
    • How many projects are active? Is it easy to determine the answer? If not, you have an issue.
    • For each project, what are you delivering, when will you be finished, and how much will it cost?
  • People, Process, Technology
    • Do you have the right people in the right roles (as I type this the 2010 NFL Draft is on my TV in the background)?
    • Do you have the right delivery system or processes?
    • Do you have the right technical capabilities, architectures, platforms?
  • Relationships
    • How do the business and IT relate to each other at the enterprise, project and operational levels?
    • What does the business say about IT? What are the 10 adjectives that the business would use to describe IT?
    • What does IT say about the business? What are the 10 adjectives that IT uses to describe the business?
    • What is working well?
    • What would you change if you were King for a day?

To make sure you are doing things right, it doesn’t take a PhD. It’s really more about the basics. And, what is more basic, better said – universal, than a traffic light? Red, yellow or green? English, Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Japanese, or Australian we all understand the basics of red, yellow and green. Use these universal icons to determine if you are doing things right. With this vernacular in place, manage by exception. Be hard on the red items. Watch the yellow items. And, most importantly, determine which green activities are really yellow, and which yellow activities are really red and you will stay 5 steps ahead of your changes.