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Change Management

Four Drastic Executive Behavior Changes Required in the Time of COVID-19

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As a talent development professional, and self-declared talent trend geek, I have read countless books, white papers, articles, and research summaries on the art and science of leadership and employee engagement. But even my favorite podcast pearls and TedEx titans can’t keep up with what we are seeing in the world of work today.

In this era of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, what it means to live, work, lead and contribute as part of the business community has been fundamentally, perhaps permanently altered. Since March 2020, businesses, large and small, have been closed or limited in their operations, and even the remaining essential workers have had to radically adjust to new protocols.

“…what does returning to work [in this new environment] mean for executives, managers and their teams learning to function in a dramatically changed environment? If they are like many leaders …they are exploring and experimenting…blending creative imagination with technical know-how.”

 

Now, as each state cautiously rolls out a phased return to public life, businesses are spending countless hours figuring out how to implement what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls a National Return to Work Plan. They, along with local governments are exploring the major implications of returning to work in this environment. They are grappling with workplace safety, employee rights and wellbeing, liability concerns, and continued revenue disruptions, just to name a few.

What does this mean for executives, managers and their teams learning to function in a dramatically changed environment? If they are like the many leaders I have been speaking with, they are deeply entrenched in what Walt Disney called Imagineering. They are exploring and experimenting…blending creative imagination with technical know-how.

On the technical front, an abundance of resources is emerging to help business owners/stakeholders untangle the web of considerations. It’s a little like looking at a computer motherboard. Every decision affects another circuit in the system. I, for instance, read the CDC’s May 2020 Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease. While it only took me 30 minutes to read the online page itself, it contained 77 hyperlinks and 1500 reference documents. All this before leading me to the CDC’s Resuming Business Toolkit – another 86-bulleted checklist.

Given the likelihood that leaders are referencing equivalent online guidelines from other national and industry sources, I think there is no doubt, the first drastic behavior change for leaders is: Redefining Control.

Just as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health aims to control hazards to protect workers, leaders may need to redefine their own hierarchies of control from a management perspective.

I can imagine re-defining some of the CDC controls in these ways

  • Elimination: Remove everything but the priority focus areas.
  • Substitution: Replace old management habits that don’t work anymore.
  • Engineering: Reimagine systems for the new normal.
  • Administrative: Change people processes.
  • Personal: Learn to Influence in new and different ways.

With all the variables in play for leaders and employees, the whole idea of Resiliency will take on a new meaning. Clearly it is resiliency to manage the business framework, as Ernst & Young suggests. But it’s also resiliency with people. What are teams experiencing in this new era?

Just one of many examples is the impact current and future remote work has on employees. A recent Bloomberg study showed that U.S. remote workers have logged on for an additional three hours per day compared to patterns seen before March 11 — a 40% jump. Everyone reacts differently to this kind of workplace upheaval. We respond based on our work styles, available social support, financial situation, health, living environment, and many other factors. This is where Disney’s call for creative imagination comes into play. How managers model and build resiliency into the new cadences of work will determine their success in creating a viable, post Covid19 workplace.

Along those same lines is the manner in which leaders show up as crisis managers. New variables such as health checks, social distancing, confidentiality, or even stigma, are all driving leaders to revisit their principles in a world where, as Korn Ferry puts it, “perform” becomes “survive”. The way in which leaders address concerns around personal comfort, information and procedural implementation is not just a matter of preference. It is a choice that stands to drive what their business culture looks and feels like in a pandemic-changed world.

As with most calls for leader behavior change, once principles and processes are in place, it all comes back to communication. This time requires all leaders to take a radical look at their presence, language, transparency in thought and practice. Never has it been more important to show up “the right way, at the right time, with the right information”, as a Bain & Company article puts it. Reflecting on the book Leadership in Turbulent Times, by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Bain brief suggests that communicating with a combination of deep-seated purpose and authenticity will give managers the ability to lead through times of fracture and fear.

In the frenzy of policies, procedures, toolkits and checklists, I’m rooting for every leader to find the space to develop the human outreachplan that will make all the difference for themselves and the teams they lead.

 

Sources:

  1. Image: How are organizations around the world responding to COVID-19?: People Matters: May 2020: https://www.peoplemattersglobal.com/article/c-suite/how-are-organizations-around-the-world-responding-to-covid-19-25072
  2. US Chamber of Commerce: Implementing a National Return to Work Plan; Memo from Suzanne Clark, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, April 13, 2020; https://www.uschamber.com/coronavirus/implementing-national-return-to-work-plan
  3. Quotetab: Walt Disney http://quotetab.com/quote/by-walt-disney/theres-really-no-secret-about-our-approach-we-keep-moving-forward-opening-up?source=opening-up
  4. CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020; https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
  5. CDC: Resuming Business Toolkit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/resuming-business-toolkit.html
  6. NIOSH: Hierarchy of Control https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hierarchy/default.html
  7. EY COVID-19 Enterprise Resilience Framework: https://www.ey.com/en_us/covid-19
  8. Bloomberg: Working From Home Means Working Longer Hours for Many https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-23/working-from-home-means-working-longer-hours-for-many-chart
  9. Korn Ferry: Leading in a Crisis: https://www.kornferry.com/content/dam/kornferry/docs/pdfs/covid_leading-in-a-crisis.pdf
  10. Bain & Company: Coronavirus: How to Be the Leader Your People Need Right Now https://www.bain.com/insights/coronavirus-how-to-be-the-leader-your-people-need-right-now
  11. The Stark Solution, Radical Behavior Change in the Era of Covid19., June 2020

Consulting Skills for the Workforce of the Future

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I have been recruiting for over 20 years in the F500 Learning and Development industry, and I have seen a great deal. From rapid skill shifts, to elevated client demands, to erratic market swings, consulting is not for the faint of heart. Working with the F500 has a very slim margin for error and expectations are high when a consultant walks through the physical or virtual door.

So, what does it take to be an exceptional CONSULTANT?

F500 Clients are demanding, so while you need to possess solid skills to perform and deliver results (hard skills), these are table stakes and not the only skills you need to bring to the proverbial table. You will need to quickly adapt into a client organization, communicate concisely and empathetically, make sound decisions, think outside the box, manage deadlines . . . You must also be chameleon-like and be able to adapt to change quickly, all while managing client expectations and delivering results!

“..attributes such as executive influence, strategic agility, political savvy, and the ability to coach/provide feedback will be expected. They are the differentiators or game changers and that is what a client requires.”

 

A wise man once told me that the best Consultants are curious and customer-focused… they listen, investigate, ask the right questions, and quickly absorb an understanding of the clients’ business. He also said …. “Consulting is a lot like dating” and while this analogy is a bit tongue in cheek, it has some validity. In consulting, connecting is so important and relationship building is critical.


There are times when consulting feels like being caught between a rock and a hard place – a delicate balance between knowing when to align/conform and when to push back. As projects become more complex, the stakes become much higher. Therefore, attributes such as executive influence, strategic agility, political savvy, and the ability to coach/provide feedback will be expected. They are the differentiators or game changers and that is what a client requires. Possessing these skills will allow you to solidify and expand relationships which, in turn, usually earns you the right to be involved with follow-on initiatives. After all, isn’t that really what it is about . . . becoming extraordinarily valued by the client that he/she continues to partner with you and provides more opportunity for CARA and you!

You may be asking yourself, “Is consulting right for me?”

As you may have gathered by now, consulting is far more than just building an excellent work product!

I know this career path is not “a walk in the park”! I have hired hundreds of consultants in my tenure and not every engagement is without error. Typically, the hard skills of the consultant have rarely been the reason for an unsuccessful engagement. It usually comes down to one or more of the softer skills I have been referencing. You will need these skills to build and further your consulting career – and in our current climate, they are absolutely critical!

While consulting will never be shy of challenges, pressure, and uncertainty; it will always be brimming with big rewards –working on multi-faceted engagements within a variety of industries, growth opportunities, and the opportunity to create so many meaningful relationships.

To all of CARA’s Consultant Team Members, I’d like to dedicate this blog to you. Thank you for your partnership and focus!

S4HANA Primer: Change Considerations Supporting Migration

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This blog will define SAP and highlight the technical and change management considerations from the perspective of a CARA consultant on a CARA engagement.

Who is SAP?

SAP SE is a German multinational software corporation that makes enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. The company is especially known for its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. SAP is an acronym for Systems, Applications, and Products.

Companies use SAP to integrate different business processes across various functions, such as purchasing goods and services, fulfilling customer orders and collecting payments, importing and exporting goods, manufacturing and distributing products, financial reporting, and maintaining Master Data, which is core to their operations.

SAP’s Journey to S/4HANA

SAP introduced R/1 enterprise software in 1972 and released R/2 for the mainframe in 1979. The next generation was R/3 for the client/server that was released in 1992. SAP introduced mySAP for the world wide web in 2000. It was an e-business software integration tool that delivers content to the user based on his or her role in an enterprise. SAP introduced HANA in 2011. It is optimized for SAP’s in-memory database known as SAP HANA. SAP has continued to enhance this suite of products with real-time analysis and computing, workflow approvals, self-service tasks, and cloud offerings.

“A comprehensive change management strategy ensures people engage and support the change and implement the behavior to sustain the change.”

 

SAP S/4HANA

S/4 HANA is the successor of SAP R/3 and is SAP’s ERP system for large enterprises. S/4 HANA is a solution specifically designed to run on HANA and helps companies move away from traditional ERP systems towards providing users real-time decision support.

SAP HANA is comprised of three key components:
1. In-memory computing engine
2. Database technology
3. Single database platform

To learn more about these three key components, refer to the following diagram.

SAP HANA three components diagram
Source: M. Schroer

What Must Companies Consider When Migrating to S/4HANA?

From a Technical Perspective…
Companies must consider their migration and implementation strategy as described below.

  • Brownfield or Greenfield Implementation
    • A Brownfield implementation means the company is migrating to SAP S/4HANA without re-implementation and without disruption to existing business processes. However, it does allow for re-evaluation of any existing process flows and any customizations that were made to the system.
    • A Greenfield implementation or Vanilla implementation is the traditional way of implementing an SAP system. The team, which consists of both consultants and key users, starts from best practices and designs the final ERP solution taking into account the team’s joint experience.
  • On-premise or Managed Cloud Migration
    • An on-premise migration means all of the SAP hardware is located within the companies’ own data center (as opposed to in the cloud).
    • A cloud migration means the company moves its SAP applications, data, and technology to a managed cloud service.

From a Change Management Perspective…
Companies must consider the people, process, and technology impacts their employees and partners to ensure they are ready, willing, and able to adopt the move to S/4HANA. Outlined below is the change management strategy CARA designed for a recent SAP client.

Sponsorship | Stakeholder Assessment | Communications | Training & Documentation | Hyper-care Support

Sponsorship
CARA designed activities and tools to support the program’s vision and objectives. Leaders were aligned on the Change Management strategy and benefits and the change agent roles and responsibilities. A program overview video was developed featuring key leaders describing the key aspects of the program – Who, What, Where, When, and Why. In addition, visioning and elevator speech talking points were developed for leaders.

Stakeholder Assessment
When SAP users complete actions in their SAP system, their keystrokes are governed by two components:

  1. Transaction codes (Tcodes) – a short cut key that provides direct access to the desired transaction from anywhere within the SAP system.
  2. Security roles – governs what data and processes each user can access inside the SAP system.

When migrating to S/4HANA, each client will experience changes to their transaction codes (Tcodes), security roles, the look and feel of SAP screens, and changes to business processes.

CARA conducted a job/role impact/risk assessment to identify the impacted stakeholders, assess benefits based on their job/role, and identify potential risks.

Communications
CARA designed a robust communication strategy to support 12,000 global SAP users. The goal was to provide the right message, at the right time, to the right audience using the right vehicle. In addition to the sponsorship artifacts mentioned above, the following communication artifacts were developed:

  • Communication plan
  • Stakeholder support site
  • Three-level stakeholder impact summary
  • Monthly newsletter and change agent events
  • IT sponsored system demos to illustrate system changes

Training and Documentation
The typical SAP user is supported by many standard operating procedure documents (SOPs) and training artifacts that govern how they use the SAP system.

Some SAP clients do not completely employ global processes. This results in a larger number of SOPs and training media items to update when they migrate to S4/HANA because they have to update the global processes and local documents that are location or country-specific.

The CARA Stakeholder Assessment identified how changes to the client’s transaction codes (Tcodes), security roles, business processes, and the look and feel of SAP screens impacted the client’s SOPs and training media.

CARA developed a robust media tracker to track the development/updates to over 1500 SOP and training artifacts. The tracker highlighted dependencies between development teams and provided for easy resource analysis and allocation. It also included a dashboard to report development/update progress to leadership.

CARA partnered with the client’s training team to develop a global training deployment plan that included self-service training and recorded webinars.

Hyper-care Support
CARA partnered with the client’s program team to develop a hyper-care support strategy that included:

  • Dashboard and metrics for leadership
  • Launch Communication plan
  • Daily huddles for the program team
  • Q&A conference calls to support change agents post Launch
  • Q&A mailbox/triage strategy to support users/partners post-launch
  • Supplemental training for users/partners

Successful SAP S/4HANA implementations require the client’s organization to move from the current to the future state. However, clients don’t change, people change. The CARA change management consultant assessed the stakeholders and developed a communication, training, and support strategy to ensure their successful adoption of S/4HANA. By applying the right combination of change management activities and tools, the CARA change management consultant ensured the client’s people engaged and supported the change and then implemented the required skills and behavior to sustain the change.

Committed to your future blog post image

ServiceNow: Six Change Communications Best Practices to Consider During Implementation

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Picture this: Your organization has decided to build a ServiceNow platform to enhance your IT service desk capabilities to all end users. The platform would provide employees with multiple ways to reach the service desk to open incident tickets, including the ability to self-diagnose and fix minor issues by accessing a new knowledge center.

The business goal is wrapped around the need to streamline and create a more efficient service desk process. Your business case is sound, and now you must build an implementation team, which includes outstanding Organizational Change Management practitioners to ensure employees embrace and use the new portal. After all, projects are more likely to fail when OCM is not properly accounted for.

However, it’s easy to assume that the need for OCM support is minimal in the case of a ServiceNow IT service center platform. After all, your organization always had a help desk hotline number – you are now just expanding those services. That can be a mistake.

Never underestimate your end users’ resistance to change, especially if they cannot envision a need. Users will typically access the IT service center when technology issues develop, and they are unable to work. They will often take the easiest route to get their issue solved by picking up the phone. Downtime does not make for a great workday.

“After all, projects are more likely to fail when OCM is not properly accounted for.”

 

Make Targeted Communications a Priority

During a recent integration of a new ServiceNow IT service center platform we created a robust OCM plan, including a communications strategy that communicated to and convinced all audience members in the organization of the value of the features and benefits of the ServiceNow platform, which included the customized ability to:

  1. Continue to contact the help desk telephonically
  2. Get resolution to an issue through a chat session
  3. Open a ticket by completing an online form
  4. Self-diagnose minor issues through a knowledge center platform that included a growing service catalog
  5. Check on resolution progress of open tickets
  6. Learn of any organization-wide issues/outages that were impacting their ability to do their work

Effective, targeted communication is critical, especially when stakeholders do not have a firm grip on the need for the change. In this case employees were happy to use their desk phones to open a resolution ticket. During a change process, employees will typically fall back on the “what’s in it for me” concerns – how would the new ServiceNow service center help them more quickly resolve their issue.

As a result, communications must go beyond delivering project awareness, it must also convince all audience levels to actively support and commit to the change by providing evidence of how the new ServiceNow service center benefits all parties and the organization. Messages around simplicity, efficiency and expanded capabilities are crucial to end-users. Communications must also be open-ended, enabling stakeholders to have their questions answered.

To ensure this is done well, the communications lead must plan around what stakeholder audiences need to know, when they need to know specific messages and how those messages will be delivered. Poorly planned and executed communications often leads to a lack of user acceptance, understanding and frustration that can go all the way to the C-suite.

Six Communications Best Practices

Consider these six OCM communications best practices when implementing a ServiceNow platform:

  1. Communicate early. Never wait until the 11th hour to start your communications process. Your communications timeline should start early enough to allow stakeholders to decipher the change to ServiceNow and its impact. We started several months prior to launch with a variety of communications tactics, including a fluid intranet toolkit portal that housed all communications materials, with FAQs and a hotline link to have questions answered.
  2. Communicate often but plan it right. Is it possible to overcommunicate? Yes, if your messaging starts to become annoying – much like that TV spot that quickly grows old and tired. Establish a good communications rhythm. Repeating messages is important, but don’t let them become a nuisance your employees can easily tune out.
  3. Consider messages for all audience levels. Many organizations may miss out on opportunities to convey targeted, purposeful messages by limiting themselves to broad email or intranet communications. See the next best practice for additional channel ideas.
  4. Use multiple communications channels. If you want to reach 20 percent of your audience limit your content to the intranet. Many employees make occasional visits to the company intranet and may miss your message. Remember that your communications compete against their other work priorities. Complement email and intranet messaging with a broad array of tactics, including town halls, managers’ team key messages and lunch ‘n’ learns, which also allow for 2-way communications opportunities. Lunch ‘n’ learns, in particular, allow employees to “test-drive” the new portal and can be a great way to build interest and commitment.
  5. Use “tips and tricks” to arouse support and commitment. When the new service center is announced many employees will hesitate to move away from their telephone to open a ticket. Brief, memorable tips and tricks will teach employees something that will spur them on to learn more about the features and benefits of the new portal.
  6. Communications doesn’t stop after rollout. Make sure the change to the new service center sticks – employees will quickly move back to old habits in the weeks and months after your ServiceNow rollout unless you continue to keep the portal in front of them. Tell success stories that show how other employees made good use of the new service center and continue to offer tips and tricks. Share these via a variety of channels – the intranet, email, manager key messages and even your company’s video screens, if you have them.

Of course, it is critical that you also measure your communications’ effectiveness. Did employees rally around the new ServiceNow portal? Did they continue to exclusively use the help desk hotline? Did messages resonate with them? If so, how did they best receive them? Evaluate both your communications content and strategy.

Please connect with us if you could use Organizational Change Management help on a ServiceNow integration, or any project you have. We’re glad to help!

“Going Digital” A Framework for Corporate Learning

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For many organizations, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed some serious vulnerabilities. Businesses not equipped with a digital strategy have become highly reactive and struggled to swiftly pivot and support their workforce development under these unprecedented circumstances. Clearly, these uncertain times call for pioneer thinking. Organizations must learn, expand, and develop new ways to enable people to do better work through a continuously evolving digital strategy.

This lead paragraph might seem vague and grandiose; don’t get disillusioned by these opening lines. Let’s take a closer look at how organizations can leverage a digital mindset to successfully move both technology and people to the center of their response strategy and ongoing corporate narrative.

Digital Transformation

Where to start? Well, by defining a term that gets a lot of eye rolls – Digital Transformation.

Digital Transformation starts with the complete rethinking of how a business operates. Said best by McKinsey & Company, it is about empowering employees to embrace change and to challenge old ways of working. Digital Transformation must take place at all levels within an organization, i.e., the core business must fundamentally change. Countless business leaders have been reluctant to do the hard work – to transform their business operations to digital, but with the unexpected global crisis, they now have no choice. Becoming digital is the only way forward.

A Digital Transformation introduces boundless opportunities for innovation, operational efficiencies, and competitive advantage. Simply injecting technology into an existing process proves insufficient in realizing what it means to be digital. So, this is when the difference between Automation versus Digitalization becomes important.

Linking proven learning methods with advanced technology allows organizations to meet the immediate needs of their people while future proofing their workforce along the way.”

 

Automation vs. Digitalization

Both Gartner and Forbes have published excellent content on the difference between Automation and Digitalization. Two recommended articles are included in the footnotes. If you are interested, dive in! To simplify the jargon:

Automation

  • To install technology into an existing process
  • To make a process operate automatically by replacing human intervention

Digitalization

  • To provide new value, improve how something gets done
  • To leverage technology to make work and ultimately people’s lives better

Unfortunately, many organizations focus on implementing automation with an intention to simplify work by removing human intervention as opposed to creating resilient business models. The output of these expensive automation projects consistently fails to meet business needs/expectations. Meanwhile, businesses that embrace digitalization have the mindset to better manage change overall, making change management a core competency while the business becomes more agile and customer-centric.

Digital Transformation of Learning

In today’s corporate setting, a person’s success is often attributed to their ability to learn and adapt. Education is an enabler for people, particularly during times of substantial change. One would think this understanding would propel corporate learning to the top of the priority list.

McKinsey & Company’s research had previously forecasted that the skills needed in the workplace will be utterly different by 2030. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this prediction to 2020. It’s imperative for organizations to support and develop their people in this disruptive transformation of work. Such an immense workforce revolution must be met with appropriate learning and development strategies.

One of the main goals of any corporate learning strategy should be making information accessible across the entire organization. Learning should not be a struggle, yet in most of today’s corporate settings, learning has not been designed to be people-centric. The Godfather of Corporate Learning, Josh Bersin, talks about how external consumer platforms like Google, YouTube, and LinkedIn make it extremely easy to search and consume knowledge-based content. These new age consumer platforms have become the common place for learners to circumvent their company’s clunky learning offerings for a better learning experience. Ironically, these external tech giants end up knowing more about an employee’s learning needs and skill level than their actual employer. And they leverage this information to create personalized, timely and interconnected learning experiences. Businesses should take note, there is something to learn here, pun intended!

Fundamental gaps exist with how people consume content and retain knowledge inside and outside of work. Below are four things to consider when redesigning your corporate learning strategy to meet consumer expectations:

  • Personal – Today’s learners want learning geared towards their individual needs and interests. By leveraging innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), businesses can scale personalization to create individual learning experiences based on unique employee data.
  • Mobile – Mandatory compliance training is often the #1 content accessed within a learning management system (LMS), but usage quickly drops off when it comes to everyday learning needs. A big reason for this is that corporate learning is often confined to a ridge destination (i.e. LMS) verses built into the flow of work. In response, learners pivot to internet searches, videos, podcasts, and other content that is immediately accessible via their mobile devices to fuel their curiosity and support their on-the-job learning needs
  • Social – From infants to adults, we, by nature, learn from each other. Sharing knowledge and expertise via sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube creates new opportunities for individuals and companies to share, promote, and give/accept feedback on learning content. These same social learning tactics can be brought into the workplace too. We’re all vying for the 5-star review!
  • Continuous – Developing ongoing learning experiences is the hook for creating a life-long learner, and, for the tech giants, creating a life-long consumer. Work, let alone life, is in a constant state of change. Continuous learning is a response to the turbulence of modern work (*gulp* life): new technology, new company direction, new process, new teammate, new…, new…., new…

A Digital Approach to Corporate Learning

This humanitarian crisis has changed business operating models forever. In turn, organizations are forced to rapidly evolve old learning programs and training models to support their newly fractionalized workforce. Every organization is impacted differently. Some have transitioned to working remotely. Others have evolved to shift patterns of small cohorts. All are creating new roles and transitioning people to support swiftly changing business demands. A digital learning strategy is required now, more than ever before, to support the disruption.

Not sure where to start with your digital learning transformation? Hit the ground running with these six recommendations for reimagining corporate learning activities into effective and immersive digital learning experiences.

  1. Understand when to be highly digital and when to be highly human – it’s the balance of both where truly the magic happens.
  2. Build an open source API Integrations strategy, integrate new technology solutions to enhance the learning experience – a friendly learning bot ready to assist will do the trick.
  3. Design for mobile first, create a new learning mode for consuming content anywhere at any time – work, life, and learning have no borders in today’s world.
  4. Set the standard for data always – use actionable metrics to connect learning with performance and business outcomes.
  5. Support various types of learning – including on-the-job learning, team-based learning, ILT, blended learning, gamification, and adaptive microlearning, to name a few.
  6. Go all in, become digital – do the upfront work… align your company mindset, understand and build empathy for your people, rethink and redesign your processes, and then use technology to bring it all together.

The Wrap

Remember, the Digital Transformation of Learning extends beyond the virtual delivery of instructional courses and training. It requires a mindset shift for how organizations fundamentally approach learning for the workforce. Linking proven learning methods with advanced technology allows organizations to meet the immediate needs of their people while future proofing their workforce along the way.

 

Sources/Footnotes:
Gartner: https://info.advsyscon.com/it-automation-blog/gartner-it-automation
Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbloomberg/2018/04/29/digitization-digitalization-and-digital-transformation-confuse-them-at-your-peril/#2458c4162f2c
McKinsey: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/unlocking-success-in-digital-transformations
Josh Bersin https://joshbersin.com/2019/03/learning-experience-platform-lxp-market-grows-up-now-too-big-to-ignore/

 

Your Brain on Change! How to Stop Fighting Gravity

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“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein

Why, then, do so many organizations take the same approach to change over and over again and not achieve the desired outcomes? Scholars, consultants, researchers and well-intended leaders have all struggled to crack the mystery of successful and sustained OCM (organizational change management). Why is it still so hard?

The problem is not insanity…..it’s that people are complex creatures and, as a result, change is messy. We don’t always behave in a linear fashion based on a well-set plan (if you have teenagers, you can relate). Until we embrace the connection of neuroscience with change, every initiative is at risk of being another statistic.

Neuroscience is the study of the brain and its impact on our behavior. It is not a new concept in the world of OCM, but we need to elevate it beyond a new way of thinking to a standard way of driving OCM. We know that the brain has pathways that respond to change (good or bad), and that our brains are prediction machines to keep us out of harm’s way. We know that it takes more time and energy to try something new and that our brains typically prefer to default to saving energy by doing what is automatic (habit). And we also know that, as a result, the brain often interprets change as a threat. This results in a fight-or-flight mindset, even if a change is positive! But did you know:

  • Many conventional change approaches in fact trigger the threat response
  • Science shows that our brains often make decisions for us before we have time to consciously process ourselves
  • Our brains have FIVE TIMES more neural networks to look for danger than they have for rewards
  • Our brains subconsciously look for threats five times per second based on primal survival instincts
  • Our brains subconsciously decide whom to trust without consulting us
  • With neurons firing at breakneck speed, the brain spurs us to react fast, sometimes too fast

Our brains are constantly on high alert when a change comes our way and can release chemicals that create negative behaviors such as resistance (outward or internal), barriers to learning, anxiety, low engagement and poor decision-making skills. When we can trigger the reward part of the brain, however, we bring about engagement, creativity and hope…..all leading to high performing employees, hence a high performing organization.

Your brain on change:

Threat VS Reward
Source: P. Plohg

A Word About Methodology

Change methodologies are important, with some more impactful than others. I teach methods to graduate students as well as advocate and apply them with my clients. It’s all good stuff. The danger is that reliance of a methodology doesn’t always ensure success. In other words, you may find yourself fighting gravity. Although we can create the best-laid plans and check the boxes when we drive actions around certain steps, it’s no wonder that more often than not we can face prolonged resistance and lack of sustained change.

I remember a client workshop that I participated in to launch a massive transformation across the entire organization. It was a huge investment with a crystal-clear business case along with plenty of benefits to the employees including simplified work processes. During the workshop “capturing the hearts and minds of our people” was mentioned no less than 20 times in the course of two days. We talked about a plan and methodologies, and how to achieve this goal through a rigorous workplan complete with communication, change agents, and training. We agreed that if we hadn’t captured the hearts and minds of the organization through standard approaches by a specific date, we would be behind schedule. Yet these conversations struck me as disingenuous; kind of like telling someone they have two hours to decide if they want to be friends because the workplan says so.

Knowing when and how to change is not the same as being truly motivated to change. The old change paradigm is that we need a burning platform (threat) to convince people to change. But, in fact, most change initiatives are not that severe. The majority of change initiatives are intended to broaden and build an organization’s capabilities and people; sounds pretty rewarding! Opportunity is often a driver for change……and yet as OCM professionals we often try to find the threat within an opportunity to build commitment…. which can become a vicious cycle.

In the case above, my team and I took a step back and examined our change plan through the lens of triggering the reward side of the brain and shifting our familiar ways of thinking. Doing so can be uncomfortable and feel less certain. There was a time when following the change curve guaranteed success….or did it?.

It’s not about throwing standard approaches out the window, but it is about thinking from a more holistic viewpoint focused on what really makes people tick. The table below gives a sample of what this can look like:


Source: P. Plohg

Let’s break down the example of let people make their own connections. By now you’ve likely seen Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” Ted Talk one or 100 times (if not, check it out!). The premise is that we need to drive change starting with the why because people buy into why you do something versus what you do. This lends itself to letting people make their own connections and trigger those brain sensors that say “this feels right” and “I get it!”

The example of we need both rational and emotional reasons for change speaks perfectly to the rider and elephant theories in Switch, my favorite change management book of all time (like you, I’ve read many). The brain is not of one mind, so to speak. We all have a rational (rider) and emotional (elephant) side. Both have enormous strengths and crippling possibilities; if they aren’t recognized and moving in harmony, change will not happen.

A good OCM professional pays it forward by creating change leaders in their wake. I want to leave my clients and students understanding that when we let go of outdated principles and ‘tell’ mindsets by understanding how the brain responds to change, the opportunities for meaningful and lasting impact have no end. I can’t promise that it still won’t get messy, but isn’t that what makes the journey so incredibly rewarding?

To learn more about the neuroscience of change, I recommend:

Leading Virtual Teams: 5 Must-Haves for Staying Connected

By | Change Management, Learning | No Comments

Let’s face it, these are unprecedented times. And they require an unprecedented response from us all. We’ve been used to working within a global VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) business environment for some time—one that’s required us to demonstrate both adaptability and resilience. But these times are different. As we continue to do our part in combatting the global coronavirus we are sheltering in place, maintaining our social distance, and for many of us, finding ourselves in the unchartered territory of working 100% virtually for the first time. This need to work differently, along with the stressors of finding ourselves within a global pandemic, is likely bringing up some new reactions for us all. Common challenges include the need to balance work priorities and deliverables, while battling feelings of isolation and missing the kinds of everyday ‘hallway’ interactions we’ve relied on and enjoyed. We’re all battling these experiences for ourselves while we find our way. And if you’re a leader with direct reports, you’ve got a team of people relying on you to address their concerns and keep them connected as well.

This blog focuses on five ‘must-have’ techniques for doing just that. As you read, keep in mind how and when you can begin applying these for yourself and your team.

“We now find ourselves working in completely new ways where the need to engage virtually has never been greater. As a leader, your opportunity to bring your team together is at a critical phase.”

 

1. Plan Your Approach

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” Comparing the two, experience tells us that we can have a much better ‘hit rate’ for success with a plan, so why not start there? Take the time to be intentional about what success will look like while leading a team that is completely virtual.

This starts by reflecting on your vision and hopes for your team. How do you want your team members to act and feel in this virtual environment? What will it mean to be productive, connected, and successful? How can you help team members tap into their individual core competencies and strengths? How do you see yourself continuing to build team cohesion remotely while making sure that everyone feels part of the team? Your answers to these questions will shape your interactions with your team members and will go a long way to foster the type of virtual team environment that your employees will have. Share your vision and what this means for your team.

Remember that you have a critical role to play in shaping your team’s virtual culture. Be a role model by demonstrating virtual team commitment and collaboration. What work style habits can you build that will benefit you and provide examples of what others can emulate (e.g., taking care of yourself and your energy levels, integrating work and family tasks, maintaining effective routines)? Keep in mind that regular routines go a long way to combat an unpredictable external environment. How can you authentically convey the importance of your team in supporting each other in a virtual setting? Aim to develop realistic, focused goals (both team and individual), and establish upfront expectations of each other. Also, be the kind of leader who has ongoing conversations with your employees on progress made.

2. Communicate Early and Often

In a virtual environment, it’s more important than ever to use a variety of vehicles and methods to set the stage for open communication. How can you develop a cadence and process for coming together—for both team and one-on-one touchpoints? What structure can you provide for your team to foster information sharing and connection? How can you augment this by seizing impromptu opportunities to check-in, share information, ask a question, or simply say “hello” and see how people are doing? Don’t assume that others know what you’re working on or who you’re interacting with. What questions do your team members have? Where should people go with specific questions? Consider your responses to these questions for establishing your team’s pattern of communication, and see where it may need to adapt over time.

On top of this, don’t forget to master the ‘basics’ of communication. Respond to others in a timely manner. Keep scheduled meetings. Listen actively. Remove distractions in your work setting. At the end of the day, set yourself up to be present, engaged, and in-the-moment when communicating with others. When face-to-face conversations aren’t practical, know what to listen for. In this case, you won’t have the benefit of seeing someone’s nonverbals—so you’ll want to pay extra attention to subtle nuances in individuals’ tone and pace of speech. This will clue you in to where you may need to check for understanding.

Communication is so important because it helps direct your team’s actions, accountabilities, and progress made. What methods and processes can you use to make sure everyone is on the same page? Share meeting agendas, outcomes, commitments, and next steps. Your team members will rely on the open communication you foster to build trust in a virtual environment. This will go a long way to your team members being open to giving and receiving feedback as your team continues to evolve.

3. Leverage Technology

We are fortunate to live in a time where we have wide access to technology and systems that give us the opportunity to work remotely. That said, you’ll want to make optimal use of available technology and resources. This means using the right tool(s) for the situation. We’ve probably all been part of remote interactions that didn’t go well simply because an overly complex tool for the situation was utilized. When a formal meeting is involved, this is when you’ll want to learn to make good use of your company’s online meeting software. However, in other cases, exchanging emails, sharing instant messages, sending texts, or holding phone calls will easily suffice to expedite making the right connection.

Another recommendation is to opt for face-to-face interaction to increase engagement (and decrease the tendency to multi-task), particularly when longer conversations are involved. Now is the time to practice getting technology savvy with using your computer’s camera feature! This will come in handy when holding virtual face-to-face meetings with your team. Think of it as a wonderful opportunity for the team to come together, share updates, ask questions, and foster a sense of camaraderie.

What about other important logistics? You’ll want to test your technology equipment and connections to ensure you’ll be in a position to connect easily and both begin and end on time. Do what you can to anticipate and mitigate any challenges that may arise. If you’re part of a global workforce, you’ll want to be sensitive to time zone differences when scheduling team meetings. Think about ways you can facilitate holding an effective and efficient meeting so you are focused and attentive to your role in the moment.

4. Don’t Neglect the Human Component

It’s been said that the most effective leaders show they care first, and give direction second. Focus on how you can continue to build your relationship with each of your team members so you’ll be in the best position to meet them where they are—uniquely and individually. It will be particularly important in a virtual setting to ask your individual team members how they are doing with the changes to their work environment. Listen to what they have to say and empathize with their reactions.

One resource that may be helpful with this is CARA’s recent article on Leading a Virtual Workforce Transformation: 10 Keys to Success (March 30, Andrew Barnitz). This article presents the change commitment curve—the process humans go through when adapting to a new reality. It gives additional insight into the internal psychological adaptation process that an individual goes through when moving through a change. Consider where you fall in adapting to virtual work, as well as where each of your team members are.

Change Commitment Curve Graph

Doing so will raise your awareness not only to what you’re personally experiencing but to what your team members are going through. By reflecting on this you’ll be in the best position to help your team move through the change curve. You may even help them think about how they can reframe initially perceived challenges into opportunities. This will help to foster an environment of team learning. When and how might you hold conversations on how individuals are adapting to virtual work? How could you provide a forum for team members to share ‘bright spots’ they’ve experienced along the way?

This is the time to show your appreciation for your team and how they are rising to the challenge of virtual work. Recognize and celebrate both individual and team success when you see it. Get to know your team members’ individual preferences for recognition, and customize your approach to this. This is also the time to incorporate F-U-N where you can into the workday! Get creative when thinking about how you can build virtual team camaraderie.

What are some good ideas you’d like to share on virtual team building (e.g., meeting themes, playing games, cooking together-but-separate, virtual happy hour)? Please share in the ‘Comments’ section, we’d love to hear your ideas!

5. Stay Flexible

A virtual work environment lends itself to continual adaptation and the opportunity to be flexible. You may find that expectations about how the work will flow and how people will come together will need to shift over time, and that’s okay. Know where your team may need to re-prioritize tasks, assignments, or ways of interacting along the way. Keeping flexible will help you and your team to not get bogged down in old ways of thinking or acting.

This will serve you well in being able to identify what changes may still be needed, both in the short- and long-term. It will also help you determine any immediate changes needed around the corner, along with their impact on the team in general and individual team members in particular. This is where open communication will be instrumental.

In the end, we now find ourselves working in completely new ways where the need to engage virtually has never been greater. As a leader, your opportunity to bring your team together is at a critical phase. We hope you’ve gathered some new insights that will be immediately helpful in directing your team to rise above and achieve more.

Please connect with us if you can use additional help with leading your team virtually, or simply want to talk about your experience in leading virtually. We’re here to help.

Leading a Virtual Workforce Transformation: 10 Keys to Success

By | Change Management | One Comment

A global coronavirus crisis has taught us that we are living in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world. This virus has exposed vulnerabilities beyond our control, threatening our long-term health and economic stability. Critical to defeating this pandemic is ensuring global business continuity and a healthy global workforce. As a result, hundreds of millions of workers were asked in March 2020 to work from home, leading to immeasurable virtual workforce challenges.

While remote work is not a new concept for many, several issues have plagued the virtual worker throughout the years. For example, have you ever wondered why virtual workforce efforts at your organization are not successful or fail to stick? Or why your direct reports struggle to adapt to a remote work environment? Or perhaps you’ve wondered why people managers and leaders are challenged with engaging employees in a virtual work environment?

In this article, we’ll answer those questions and explore:

  • why long-term virtual workforce efforts fail
  • how to prepare, equip, support, and enable leaders in the virtual workforce of the future
  • where workforce leaders and staff position themselves on the virtual workforce change curve

This information is designed to guide leaders, people managers and employees toward fully embracing a virtual workforce as ‘the way they work’.

But First, Why Do Virtual Workforces Fail?

  • No Burning Platform
  • No Sustainable Vision
  • No Leadership Training (in a virtual workforce)
  • No Virtual Role Modeling
  • No Culture Integration

No Burning Platform

Up until now, there was not a compelling business reason for organizations to move to a virtual workforce environment. Yes, there were always cost efficiencies to be realized but those gains were often eclipsed by workforce inefficiencies. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work was considered a perk, a convenience and / or a differentiator for many organizations globally. However, as of mid-March, the game has changed. A virtual workforce is not only critical, but essential to business continuity, increased productivity, and workforce health.

No Sustainable Vision

Lewis Carroll famously said: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”. Unfortunately, many organizations knowingly (or unknowingly) subscribe to this philosophy when introducing virtual work environments. One of the greatest misnomers about a virtual workforce is that the same business rules, processes and norms apply for this model as they would for the more traditional model. Without a vision and a new, reimagined operating model and culture, virtual workforces will struggle to achieve long-term success.

No Leadership Training (for virtual workforce)

Preparing leaders and employees for success in virtual environments is one of the most overlooked gaps in virtual workforce deployments. Leaders and managers with a remote team are significantly underserved and lack the skills to effectively manage their subordinates in a virtual world. The lack of time invested in training has led to failed virtual workforce cultures and short-lived virtual workforce success. Leaders and managers who are challenged to lead in a virtual workforce quickly determine: ‘while it is one thing to know how to lead, it is another to learn how to lead in a virtual environment’.

No Virtual Role Modeling

Given the lack of training, it is not surprising that one of the leading reasons virtual workforces are often unsustainable is the lack of leaders who model the necessary skills, competencies and behaviors required in a virtual workforce. Without sufficient skills to model critical behaviors in a virtual work environment, their efforts are often perceived as ‘do as I say, not as I do’. What is needed are leaders who are willing to champion a virtual workforce and model critical behaviors. Without them, employee buy-in and long-term sustainability is at risk.

No Culture Integration

What differentiates one organization from another is their unique culture, including but not limited to, how they interact and support each other. Organizations invest heavily in establishing a culture that is unique to their specific core values. However, when leaders decide to move to a virtual workforce, they often fail to integrate the culture that once thrived within a traditional office / workforce setting. As a result, employees are left feeling isolated or disconnected and the culture they once supported is now obsolete. A culture integration plan is paramount to long-term success as organizations transition to a virtual workforce.

Flattening the Curve

When more than 200 million remote-enabled professionals were recently thrust into a new future of work, they were given a mandate to work from home full-time in the interest of public health and safety. This was the largest disruption to a global workforce in recent memory. For a substantial number of workers, however, remote work was nothing new. For the majority of others, however, working from home on a full-time basis was a complete paradigm shift in business operations and a radical departure from business as usual.

The seemingly insurmountable challenge that organizations faced was how to create a virtual workforce strategy (practically) overnight. This strategy should include a change management and communication plan that ensures leaders, people managers and employees fully embrace a virtual workforce as ‘the way they work’. The strategy should also include communication and training on how to use the collaboration tools required to be successful and productive in the new environment.

For illustration purposes, let’s look at a traditional human change curve. This is the journey that most employees experience as they encounter change. The change curve itself is agnostic as it applies to all human behavior, irrespective of the change experience. You’ll notice in the graphic below that humans will experience a dip in morale and/or productivity as they transition from the denial stage to the exploration stage of the curve. This is common with all change and is often referred to as the ‘valley of despair’ within major change transformation initiatives. How do you bridge this ‘valley of despair’?

Change Commitment Curve

Source: Kubler-Ross

Bridging the Valley of Despair

The millions of office workers who transitioned from a traditional workforce to a virtual workforce earlier this month experienced, and continue to experience, a dip in the change curve. Carefully managing a change to a virtual workforce is paramount to business stability and continuity. Further, how we help leaders, people managers and employees’ transition along the change curve is critical to their ability to embrace a virtual workforce as the ‘new normal’, at least temporarily if not in the foreseeable future.

How to Lead an Organization Through a Virtual Workforce Transition

Here are ten actions for leading organizations through a virtual workforce transition:

  • Establish virtual role models to serve as transition champions
  • Determine KPIs and define ‘what success looks like’ with a transition to a virtual workforce
  • Develop a communication plan with targeted messaging
  • Develop a change plan to manage leader / employee transition to a virtual way they work
  • Conduct a stakeholder assessment to capture hearts, minds and fears of leaders / employees
  • Execute a change impact analysis to determine old vs. new way to work
  • Conduct a training needs analysis to identify skill gaps between traditional work and virtual work
  • Conduct a readiness assessment to gauge leader/employee preparation
  • Develop a training plan to ensure adequate skill building throughout the transition
  • Continually survey virtual leaders, people managers and employees to measure success

Tips for Virtual Role Models

Like many of you, The CARA Group has always had the capability and full functionality to work remotely. Since we needed to transition, however, to a full-time virtual workforce as directed by the state of Illinois stay at home work order, our biggest win in the transition was through the establishment of virtual workforce change champions or ‘Virtual Role Models’. Without our Virtual Role Models, collectively, The CARA Group would not be up and to the right on the change curve. Below are some best practices and key behaviors required of a Virtual Role Model who will have ultimate influence over whether your organization fully embraces a Virtual Workforce as ‘the way they work’.

  • Be vulnerable and share where you are on your own virtual workforce change curve
  • Empathize with peers and subordinates
  • Acknowledge new norms in a virtual workforce
  • Share success (and failure) stories
  • Remember the golden rule and apply it in a virtual workforce setting
  • Celebrate, reinforce and reward desired virtual workforce behaviors
  • Continue to skill-build to evolve virtual workforce capabilities
  • Establish a virtual watercooler for employees to interact personally
  • Recognize that the speed to transition and productivity in a virtual workforce will vary by individual

Click here to read CARA’s President and CEO’s perspective on Finding Our Strength to Lead in a VUCA world.

Please connect with us if you could use help with leading your organization through a virtual workforce transition or simply want to talk about your current situation as you ponder next steps. We’re here to help!

Where are You on the Virtual Workforce Change Curve?

Comment below to:

  • Share where you (or your leaders) are at on the virtual workforce change curve
  • Share your experiences in leading organizations toward embracing a virtual workforce as ‘the way they work’

Microlearning: How to Create Exceptionally Productive Teams in a Virtual World

By | Change Management, Commitment to Community, Learning | No Comments

To help you implement or expand your remote working programs, The CARA Group has created this quick microlearning to help your virtual teams become exceptionally productive! These best practices come from our years of experience helping global companies transform their workforce. We hope you like it and share it with others who find it useful.

5 steps for Successfully Integrating Project and Change Management

By | Change Management | One Comment

In January, 2015, PM Network Magazine interviewed me for an article titled ‘If I Had Known Then.’ The premise of the interview was for project managers who had led large business transformation initiatives to share at least one lesson learned from their career.

During the interview, I introduced my 80/20 project leadership philosophy. I shared that when leading transformational change; 80% of the project is art and the remaining percentage is science.

“Leading business transformation initiatives is partly science; but mostly art.”

Andrew Barnitz, PM Network Magazine (January, 2015)

The art refers to the components of change management for an initiative intended to bridge project solutions with expected business outcomes. The science refers to the utilization of critical project management components such as monitoring the project, controlling budgets and managing scope.

“Project management ensures the project is designed, developed and delivered successfully. Change management ensures that the project is embraced, adopted and used by the targets or recipients of the change.”

Equal necessity, unequal support

While the integration of project and change management disciplines are imperative for project success, they are often viewed as separate and unequal components of a successful business initiative. The problem is that project management often gets the lion share of stakeholder attention while change management is often neglected and ignored. As noted above, this can cause problems because change management is the 80% that contributes the most to an initiative’s success.

The following statistics show the impact of placing too much focus on project management while neglecting change management.

70%

of change efforts fail due to over-emphasis on project process rather than the people aspects.

#1

reason why projects fail is a result of poor sponsorship.

58%

of the participants who integrated change management and project management in their project met or exceeded their project objectives.

#2

reason why project initiatives fail is due to no change management methodology existing within a project.

As you can see, it is critical that change management have as significant a role as project management for business initiatives to be successful. In the remainder of this article, I’ll discuss how to ensure change management is given the attention it deserves through successful integration with project management.

Integration begins with role clarity

To begin understanding how to successfully integrate project and change management, let’s first understand and distinguish the roles of both the project manager and the change manager and where their roads converge and at times, collide.

  • According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a project manager is accountable for the success or failure of a project. They are responsible for the planning, executing and closing of the project. Further, the project manager is also responsible for managing teams, ensuring progress and motivating project team members. They are responsible for ensuring that project goals are in alignment with key stakeholders.
  • According to Prosci, a change manager will play a key role in ensuring projects (change initiatives) meet objectives on time and on budget by increasing employee adoption and usage. This person will focus on the people side of change, including changes to business processes, systems and technology, job roles and organization structures.

As indicated above, these roles are united with one common purpose: to ensure project goals are met and business results achieved. However, how each role goes about executing their work is meaningfully different. For example, project managers are often solution-focused where change managers are often outcome-focused. Consequently, there is a lack of understanding between the role of project manager and change manager in many organizations. This misunderstanding leads to conflicts between business functions and OD/Change COEs as to where to invest resources such as budget dollars and people.

Other barriers to integration

Besides confusion around role clarity, there are many other barriers to project and change management integration that you should be aware of.

  1. Even in 2019, the discipline of change management is in its infancy stage by comparison to project management. Thus, change management professionals like myself are in the early phases of converting non-believers.
  2. Since the role of the project manager has expanded significantly, most do not have the capacity or capability to learn change management.
  3. Change management is not easily measured since the results are often intangible. Thus, executives who control budgets struggle to justify the expense and fail to get behind change management efforts.
  4. While project management has been engrained deeply within the fabric of corporate America and beyond, change management is still struggling for a seat at the c-suite table.

The benefits of integration

To deal with these barriers, it helps to influence leadership on not only the benefits of change management, but the enormous impact an integrated approach has on business transformation. In a nutshell, an integrated approach ensures project benefits are fully achieved and realized by utilizing the strengths of both, project management and change management disciplines.

Project management ensures the project is designed, developed and delivered successfully. Change management ensures that the project is embraced, adopted and used by the targets or recipients of the change. Thus, an integrated approach is designed to deliver the desired outcomes to the business.

Other benefits of project and change management integration include:

  1. Enhanced employee and leader engagement
  2. Increased sustainability of the change enterprisewide
  3. Realization of your people ROI for the project
  4. Avoidance of change saturation across an enterprise
  5. Measurement of an organization’s change tolerance

5 steps to integration!

So now that you know which barriers to integration you need to overcome AND have a firm understanding of why integration is so critical to project success – below are five steps to integrate project and change management within your organization:

  1. It starts with education.
    • Informing leaders, stakeholders, project managers and project team members on the benefits of change management is critical to project success.
  2. Set expectations around how change work gets done.
    • Acknowledge that the discipline of change management is based on facts and insights gathered through data gathering tools and processes such as (but not limited to): stakeholder analysis, impact assessment and change readiness assessments.
  3. Use consumer-friendly terms when describing the change process and work efforts.
    • The process for change management may be viewed as inefficient to the untrained eye. When conducting stakeholder analyses or change readiness sessions – explain the why behind each approach.
    • Further, use basic language to explain each process (i.e. stakeholder analysis is a conversation with key decision makers to determine if they are supportive of the project or not and perhaps, why they are or are not supportive).
  4. Ensure project and change management synergy by presenting a unified front to project leadership, stakeholders and team members.
  5. Collaborate with the project manager and key stakeholders to embed a change methodology and subsequent deliverables within a master project plan and status report.

Effective integration leads to better results

There is an interdependent connection between project and change management disciplines, much like the symbiotic relationship between project managers and change managers. Thus, true project success requires that both roles and disciplines not only co-exist, but to serve as a complement of skills and methods. And perhaps Leonardo Da’ Vinci said it best:

“To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

After all, we as project managers and change professionals, are tasked with wearing many hats like Leonardo once did; a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, poet and story-teller. Even more remarkable today, Leonardo’s words can be applied to contemporary project delivery over five centuries later.

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