(Broadly our ‘Engagement’ segment)
Anyone who has been involved in leading or implementing change will know how integral commitment is to the overall success of the organizational transformation process. Alongside the early adopters keen to embrace new technology, there are usually some who are actively resistant to the proposed change.
Having led change initiatives for ten years, I have witnessed both extremes time and time again. Luckily, I have also used a number of tools and techniques that have helped bring the two extremes together. Since committed and engaged end-users are characteristics of a successful change initiative, it is essential for organizations to learn to build awareness that builds commitment to the changes they intend to realize. I have outlined a few of the most beneficial, if not the most obvious, ways organizations can consider doing this when embarking on organizational change management programs.
‘Why are we changing again?’
This is a question I hear frequently. For some, change is an opportunity to learn and improve not just their own skills, but also recognize that the change will contribute to the delivery of organizational objectives. Others, however, are more cautious or resistant for a range of reasons: from potential changes to their daily routines to concern over their ability to continue delivering against objectives, or simply the fear of the unknown.
Vision and purpose are critical for everyone across the spectrum. It is critical to provide details at an early stage of what the future change will look like. It is also important that super users of processes are involved in defining the look and feel of the future state of things. These representatives can then be important influencers who can effectively evangelize the future that they have helped to create for other everyday users.
Taking time to identify effective influencers and creating clarity will pay off dividends in the long run. This exercise will link the executives with senior and operational leadership and lead to a wider commitment-building tendency that any successful transformation requires and will, in the end, act as an accelerant. Engaging influencers to advocate for the new change will also help to propel the organization's ability to deliver on the strategic objectives set by the leadership. Additionally, it would help to excel against competitors and overcome internal barriers to organizational change initiatives.
How to achieve end-user adoption as quickly as possible?
Knowing your capacity, capability, and propensity to embrace change in a meaningful way will establish which levers will be most impactful to achieving high levels of end-user adoption.
Our experience has shown that using a diagnostic tool at an early stage to assess the current user readiness means that time and effort are invested on the most impactful levers. In some organizations, focusing on optimizing start-to-end processes and associated documentation is the primary driver for adoption. Therefore, knowing that the processes are piloted and optimized by trusted members will be important for the broader community of end-users as well. This will also help others to embrace and pave the way for adopting new ways of working. In other organizations, it is about understanding the interdependence between different departments – not just in terms of process but, more importantly, in terms of behavior and knowledge – that will lead to the realization of the benefits. In such cases, a different framework is required, such as focusing on the multiplication of value resulting from collaboration and also knowledge sharing leading to a successful organizational transformation.
Understanding the importance of time and place is equally important for sustaining change. The context of any organizational change will be influenced by internal and external factors – both of which are continuously evolving. Incorporating this into the initial diagnostic will add further insight, and provide informed decisions, such as which tools to use to enhance preparation activities, and the timing for any future changes.
Design with the end in mind
A good architect is aware that an excellent construction design takes into account the continuous maintenance and use of a building at the beginning stages of the design, thereby ensuring that the best materials are used. When considering organizational change management, we should take into account some of these principles – such as, how the organizational change will be embedded and sustained going forward. Frequently, there is a huge amount of effort invested prior to the launch of a given change; for most end users though, the ‘go live’ date is the starting point for them to engage seriously with the new transformation. Sustained change is achieved where organizations have redesigned an infrastructure that ties understanding, role modeling, and reward and recognition together.
Based on our experience, spending time to develop a clear picture of the future state for each end-user group – and to connect it with specific organizational outcomes – provides the basis for successful end-user adoption. Underpinning this with a detailed evaluation of the current capacity, capability, and propensity to adopt change will identify how to best accelerate user adoption at this point in time for any organization.