Stages of Change #2: Planning and Preparing for Change
Please enjoy the second installment in our four-part Q&A; series with software solution architect Kayla Lamoreaux. Lamoreaux specializes in user adoption and change management, working directly with clients to understand their business practices and customize a Workfront implementation.
1. Is there usually one person within the organization who recognizes the need to make a change and starts driving that change? Or is it often more of a collective drive and decision?
Lamoreaux: We see both happen. Many times executives will create an organizational goal to consolidate work management solutions, and that will drive the change.
Conversely, I’ve worked with individual champions who see the possibility of everything the technology can do and work to promote that change on a grassroots level. I’ve worked with one Workfront champion in an organization who started as an individual project manager and is now the head of a group of PM’s working to improve work management at their organization.
2. If there’s just one person who recognizes the need for a change, what kinds of steps do they have to go through to convince others in their company to be open to change?
Lamoreaux: It’s important to understand organizational objectives and where that need for change can help. Organizations often have multiple areas that need change. We find the most successful change agents look at leadership goals for their team, their department, or even the company and start small—choosing something that is within their sphere of influence to help change.
It’s also important to consider the readiness for the particular change you want to create. It’s like turning around a cruise ship. Even if we know our long-term strategy is to get the ship turned around, there’s only so much change the ship can handle at once.
Once you know what change you want to create, it’s really about creating a plan for that change to happen and getting people to want to jump on board. Your plan should include communication strategy, executive sponsorship, education, training, and support throughout the change effort.
Perhaps even more important is working to continue the change. Even when we launch something new, a big part of a successful change effort is continuing to support the change until it becomes part of the cultural fabric of an organization.
3. When systems are dysfunctional and processes need a major overhaul, do you find that gradual change or revolutionary change is more effective?
Lamoreaux: We see both efforts often. It really depends on the culture of the organization and how ready they are to change. If a majority of the stakeholders and people affected by the change catch the vision, there can be revolutionary change.
Some organizations have a culture where they start with a small group and create success, then grow to the next group, and on until they have all groups on board. Both options are effective. I also think it’s worth noting that revolutionary change most likely will or should be followed up with gradual change to continue to improve business process.
Organizations that do revolutionary change efforts year after year can create change fatigue within their organization, which can lead to resistance and failure for future change efforts. Change fatigue is often diagnosed in a change effort organization readiness assessment.
4. How long does it typically take for someone to go from “we’ve got to change something around here” to investigating work management options to making the decision to onboard a solution like Workfront?
Lamoreaux: I’ve seen organizations go from wanting to change to being fully onboard ready to go within a few weeks. I’ve also worked with larger organizational initiatives that can take up to a year.
5. Do you recommend any books that can help teams plan and prepare for change?
Lamoreaux: Switch by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. There are so many great stories in this book. It really helps you understand the people side of change and why we can be resistant. My favorite takeaway from this book is the idea of looking for bright spots (where people are successful) and then copying them to create change.
My favorite book on communication and leadership is Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Executive Sponsors and Change Leaders are key to any change initiative. Start With Why is a great book on leadership and communicating to the people you are leading in a way that helps them understand and support your initiatives.