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Change Management

Sustainable Organizational Change Management

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We recently published a blog on the value organizational change management (OCM) delivers. It resulted in the following questions:

  • How do you know OCM delivers value? Can its value be measured?
  • Assuming “you get what you measure”, can we institutionalize the measures to ensure sustainable behavior and sustainable value?

In our prior post, we tackled the first question. If you have not read this blog, I encourage you to read it as it sets the foundation for institutionalizing the measures that drive sustainable behavior and value. The values commonly associated with OCM were introduced. They are:

  • Accelerating the speed of adoption and,
  • Creating sustainability of the behaviors and benefits in the future state.

In addition, we presented:

  • Four types of measures commonly used to assess OCM’s value
  • Specifics regarding what is measured by each type
  • Measurement metrics
  • Strengths and weaknesses of each type of measure

Today we share how we can institutionalize these measures so they become part of an organization’s fabric, the way an organization does business, shapes how people behave, and how their use creates sustainability.

At its most basic level, the institutionalization of these measures results from the process used to create them. The process requires:

  • Early and active involvement of multiple audiences that will use and supply the measures (e.g. operations, finance, sales, HR, PMO, sponsors, leadership etc.). The impact assessment can be a starting point and valuable tool to identify and track these audiences and their role in the measures development process.
  • A base level understanding of OCM and the mechanics of how it drives behavior.
  • An understanding of the current measures used to operate the business.
  • An understanding of the sustainable behaviors and points of resistance that are critical in producing the future state benefits.

The process includes these steps:

  • Introduce OCM’s value and the measures to ensure that value
  • Identify and involve the users and suppliers in formal workshops and kick off activities
  • Include these measures as part of the formal go, no-go processes
  • Resolve conflicts with measures and accountabilities in use today
  • Integrate and align with Human Resources
  • Integrate and align with audit processes and checklists
  • Ensure project leadership understands the importance these measures and the active role they play in their creation
  • Obtain Leadership’s sign off
  • Include formal training for all key stakeholders on the connection between behaviors, sustainability, and their role in driving these behaviors

While this process may appear to require considerable upfront effort, our experience tells us that if repeated early on with the right players the measures will be adopted censure and result in the long-term behavior and sustainability that produces the future state benefits.

We would love to answer any questions you have, discuss how you might leverage our experience to accelerate the process, and show you how we can help you increase the sustainable value of OCM in your organization. Contact us at marketing@thecaragroup.com to learn more.

Can OCM Add Measurable Value?

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In an earlier blog, we introduced the concept of OCM’s value.

In support of that value, this blog poses the questions “How do you know?”, “Can you measure it?”, and can you institutionalize these measures to support the sustainable benefits of the future state?”

As a reminder, here are the areas of value normally associated with OCM:

The first involves:

  • The speed with which an organization adapts to changes and achieves the productivity promised by the future state. An example is the learning curve and how fast it can be climbed.

The second involves the sustainability of the benefits associated with the change:

  • These benefits are the result of long-term changes to behavior. Being agile comes to mind here and the ability of employees to make decisions on less than perfect information.

I think the following graphic does a good job of presenting these two values.

So, there you have a starting point. Now let’s dig a little deeper and answer the question of what do we measure and how do we measure it.

From there, we will answer the question of sustainability and address who is involved in determining what we measure, who is involved in the measurement process, how the measures are used, and how are they institutionalized?

What are the traditional measures of OCM? We believe there are four broad areas.

#1 Measurement: Effectiveness of OCM activities

  • What does it measure? These measures are perhaps the most straight forward in measuring the effectiveness of OCM. They answer questions about the effectiveness of change communications, training, risk management, leadership participation, stakeholder strength, and project health (on time on budget)
  • How are they measured? Through participant surveys, monitoring training attendance, input from project management (on time, on budget), and their use in go no go activities.
  • Strength? Specific to OCM and its time-tested success components.
  • Weakness? Assumes that OCM activity produces results.

#2 Measurement: Achievement of Future State Productivity Gains

  • What does it measure? The number of times a new activity or process is performed correctly and within quality parameters…e.g. # of workarounds being performed.
  • How are they measured? Process and quality metrics, surveys, checklists, business case metrics.
  • Strength? OCM plays a significant role in driving these results.
  • Weakness? OCM is not the only variable in driving these results.

#3 Measurement: Sustainability of Future State Performance Behaviors

  • What does it measure? New behaviors that drive performance, sustainability of these new behaviors, leadership’s understanding of the new behaviors, and how leadership spots and manages the new behaviors.
  • How are they measured? Leadership’s input, performance evaluations, compliance audits.
  • Strength? Behaviors have a direct link to performance and sustainability of the future state.
  • Weakness? While behaviors are a primary source of sustainable performance other variables are involved in sustainability

#4 Leadership Input: Leadership’s Judgment of their Ability to Manage Resistance

  • What does it measure? Leadership’s perception of OCM to further their leadership skills.
  • How are they measured? Interviews with leadership.
  • Strength? Input directly from leadership. Demonstrates their acceptance of OCM activities. Builds foundation for making measure permanent.
  • Weakness? Opinions and perceptions rather than fact.

So, how do we ensure these measures are adopted going forward? How do we institutionalize them to ensure they drive long-term value and build OCM muscle for the organization?

In our next blog, we will answer these questions and more to ensure the effectiveness of OCM.

We hope that this blog post has given you a solid introduction to the measures of OCM. While there is more to follow in our next blog, we would love to hear from you to discuss your thoughts and questions on what to measure.

 

Change is Everywhere: A Tool for Untangling and Simplifying Change

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Take a moment and count all the small (and large) changes that have occurred in your lifetime, in the last day, even the last hour. Have you lost count? Personally, in the last couple of months, I have become a wife, moved to a new ERP platform at work, got a new email address (crazy how big this can impact someone and the people around them!), downloaded a few new phone apps that changed my home screen, as well as countless other new circumstances that keep life interesting.

“The “PEOPLE” tool can be a go-to way to explain change management or introduce change concepts into the many areas where you encounter change in your daily life.”

 

As you can visualize with the changes I briefly mentioned, not all change is created equal and how we handle that change varies. That holds true in business as well – not all change is the same and, therefore, can be governed differently based on the circumstances. Change can scale on several different factors – below are a few examples:

Change Management Strategy or Basic Change Concepts?

Since not every change is the same, not every change requires the same level of intervention to gain adoption or behavior change. So, how do you know when you need to develop a full change management strategy and plan versus utilizing basic change concepts and tools? When answering this, here are a few helpful questions to consider:

  • How complex are the changes that people will need to understand?
  • How large is the change effort? Are there multiple goals that require changes happening at once?
  • How many other initiatives or changes are occurring simultaneously?
  • Will the change(s) and behavior be more a push or a pull to gain buy-in? Will this likely be viewed as a positive or negative experience?
  • How many individuals will be impacted by the change?
  • How aligned are leaders to the change that is taking place?

Based on your responses, if you find your change is large, complex, will encounter a lot of resistance or other factors that may warrant a true change plan, consider involving a professional change practitioner.

If the change doesn’t require a full change management strategy and plan, is there a simplified way to explain and leverage change management principles for these smaller, everyday changes? How can change practitioners help others easily adopt a change management mindset?

Introducing the PEOPLE Tool

CARA’s “PEOPLE” tool is intended just for that purpose – a tool to untangle the complicated change management methodologies and tools. If you consider each element of the “PEOPLE” framework, you can better manage change (even as a non-change practitioner).

  • P – Personnel: Who is impacted by the change both directly and indirectly?
  • E – Engagement and Communication: Who needs to be told “what” and when? How?
  • O – Organization Wide Impact: In what ways will things change for people? What are the behaviors and ways of working that need to adjust to ensure success?
  • P – Pulse Checks: How are we evaluating readiness and attitudes towards the change?
  • L- Leadership: Are leaders aligned to the change that is occurring and what it means for their employees?
  • E – Enablement into the Future: How are we upskilling and providing reinforcements to sustain the change(s)?

Using the “PEOPLE” Tool

In recent discussions I have had with clients, this tool has become incredibly useful in explaining the “how” behind change management without using jargon such as “stakeholder analysis” or “change impact assessments”. For example, organizations can use the tool to upskill their non-change employees as a first step in creating a culture of change and transformation.

The “PEOPLE” tool is not intended to be used as a replacement for seasoned change practitioners. Instead, it is a tool for those who want to incorporate change management principles into their everyday knowledge and routines and discuss change management in simplified terms.

Three practical uses include:

  • Upskilling non-change practitioners on change management techniques and ways of thinking
  • Incorporating an easy tool for leaders and managers in an organization to bring change in everyday thinking
  • “Selling Change” to the non-believer

Whether you are new to change management principles or have been using these concepts for years, it is clear that change is constant, and people need to be agile. With that, not all changes are equal and, therefore, do not need to be managed the same. The “PEOPLE” tool can be a go-to way to explain change management or introduce change concepts into the many areas where you encounter change in your daily life.

How do you address varying scales of change? How would you use this tool?

If you want to learn more about this tool, how to educate your organization in change principles, or how to assess where your change priorities scale, contact The CARA Group for more information at marketing@thecaragroup.com.

 

Building Long Term Change Muscle in Your Organization Part 2, a Practical Guide

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In Part 1 of this blog topic, we introduced the strategic need for the development of Long Term OCM muscle in your organization. We told you that in Part 2 we would focus on the process to further define the specific skills your organization needs and introduce several approaches on how your organization can acquire and mature these skills.

There are three steps in this process:

Step 1 in this process of defining the specific skills needed is to determine which OCM activities are the most important for ensuring continuous and sustainable change. See the list (not exhaustive), and the grid below to facilitate a structured discussion among leadership. Note: While it won’t magically produce the answer, this grid should help to facilitate this structured discussion.

Step 2 identifies which activities might be best handled by external resources. Note: You might want to look back to Part 1 of the blog and revisit the more common roles and characteristics that best fit with external and internal resources.

 

STEPS 1 and 2

Click to expand image

Step 3. This last step provides you with several of the more common implementation methods and the variables that differentiate them. What models best develop and mature these OCM skills for your organization?

Model Description and impact to managing continuous change.
Participative: inc. job shadowing of OCM lead. Delivers speed of solution and is used early on in developing OCM maturity. Typically leverages an external resource to train an internal (future OCM leader) resource as part of their service offering
Stand-alone organization: Reporting to HR Internal OCM organization that is a part of the HR organization. Tying it to HR might increase the sophistication of the organization but not always its long-term effectiveness. Budget constraints from the business might limit its long-term continuous solutions. Requires management / business buy in.
Standalone organization: Reporting to business leadership Internal OCM organization that is a part of the business organization. Tying it to the business might create more effective / faster solutions but not necessarily the quality of sustainability required for continuous change. Might be limited by budget constraints. Will require OCM SME…possibly in a participative role.
Integrated: Skill development and formal Training of all managers and leaders. Slowest speed to solution but provides the greatest OCM maturity for delivering change on a continuous basis. Requires investment in infrastructure, internal sales organization, value appreciation mechanism, continuous QA of method and tools, and partnership with external SMEs.

The strategic need for building OCM muscle has never been greater in ensuring competitive advantage. A competitive advantage that includes the right combination of both internal and external resources. We hope you have found this blog post helpful in jump starting the process of getting the right “fit” for your organization. We’d love to show you how we can help you accelerate the acquisition of your organizations Long Term OCM muscle.

Building Long Term Change Muscle in Your Organization – Part 1

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Why Long Term? In our first blog earlier this year we talked about major business trends. The trends that require significant change and change that is beyond simply the project level. In fact, they required strategic change. Continuous change. A series of projects and programs to stay out in front of the competition.

To achieve that level of change, our last blog addressed leadership’s role in strategic change and how to build their strategic change skills and engagement to form the foundation for this continuous change.

“How do you build…[organizational] change muscle? ….people managers play a critical role….”

Now the question is: how do you build a sustainable change capability in the rest of your organization? We refer to this as building change muscle.

Maybe a better question is: why would we need to build our organization’s muscle?

To best illustrate this, I have an example: a recent PROSCI article[1] talks about the many roles that need to be filled by internal resources.

One of these roles is the “people manager”. In a world of strategic and continuous change, the people managers play a critical role in ensuring change. They have organizational authority, are key communication points, understand the culture, and have built a storehouse of trust with their teams. These internal strengths cannot be outsourced to an external OCM consultant, and the faster managers develop change skills (organizational muscle), the faster change can happen.

The first step is to determine what skills your organization will need to create long term change muscle. Secondly, determine where these skills reside, inside or outside the organization.

Brief note: We believe that internal resources are just as important to change success as external resources. However, they each play distinct roles and bring value to the change process. Getting those right builds sustainable organizational change muscle.

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN BUILDING CHANGE MUSCLE

Here are some questions to get you started on determining the best mix to build your organization’s change muscle:

  • What roles and activities are best suited for internal OCM resources?
    • Change agents and change champions
    • SMEs (variety of topics)
    • Sponsors
    • Change leadership
    • Communicating and integration on an organization wide basis
    • Spotting resistance
    • Managing resistance
    • Training support
    • HR support
  • What internal resource characteristics make them best suited for these roles?
    • Organization understanding
    • Organization acceptance and trust
    • Accountability and organizational authority
    • Ability to manage long term sustainability and long-term behaviors
    • Understanding of the current state and in the longer term the Future State vs the Current State
  • What roles and activities are best suited for external resources?
    • OCM project lead
    • Communication and training expertise
    • Coaching
    • Support
    • Education and engagement
    • Feedback
    • Challenge
    • Advisor (SME in OCM)
  • What characteristics make each best suited for their respective role?
    • Objectivity
    • Cutting edge expertise and experience
    • Speed of execution
    • Structure, tools, and best practices
    • Educating of internal resources
    • Structured process and best practices

Now that you have identified what is needed for your organization, what is the next step to bring those skills into your organization? The how!

In our next edition, we will be helping you determine which specific skills your organization needs to build OCM muscle, where these skills can come from (e.g., internal, external sources), and how to acquire them.

We hope you have found this blog post helpful in setting stage to help your organization build the OCM muscle needed for the long term.

If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you.

[1] Source: PROSCI article: CLARC: The Role of People Managers in Change Management

Engaging Leadership to Enable Change: Questions to Ask and Tools to Adopt

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“Leadership engagement is complex, has many moving parts, and involves more than just the current project.”

We talk a lot about how leadership must be engaged for change to occur, but such engagement happens less than we would like or need. Why is that you might ask?

Maybe….

  • it is because leadership’s value in the change process hasn’t been tied to measures of success
  • these measures don’t exist
  • they don’t understand their role and what they are accountable for in managing change.
  • they don’t understand the impact / value of their role on the project
  • they don’t understand the value of the project to the organization
  • they don’t understand the impact of the change on their people
  • they don’t understand OCM
  • they don’t have the time (real or perceived) and they don’t see it as a priority

Wow! That’s a lot of “Maybes”.

How can we reduce this list a bit and target potential fixes to increase leadership’s engagement in the change process?

Answering the following questions can provide a good start.

 

So now what? While you may now better understand some of the underlying causes of leadership’s lack of engagement and the questions to ask to assess engagement , how do we increase engagement and ensure sustainable change among leadership? Let’s look at some of the more common solutions.

Ensure that any external consultant you hire is fully committed to educating and engaging leaders in every phase of the project.

  • Ensure that key documents are developed to serve multiple audiences and provide both project management and leadership with an early warning system that identifies points of resistance, go/no-go progress, and risks.
  • During the consultant selection process, ask the external consultants specifically how they engage and educate leadership.

Treat leadership as a partner rather than a customer.

  • Ensure the project team involves leadership in the development of the OCM measures of success.
  • Involve leadership in a transparent and active governance process that includes a multi-step go/no-go sign off process.
  • Ensure communication with leadership that includes a discussion of risk.
  • As part of the consultant selection process, ensure that external consultants have a track record of “straight talk” to leadership.
  • Ensure governance meetings are short, have repeatable agendas, and, most importantly, include transparent discussions and recommendations.
  • Define specific and measurable roles and responsibilities for leadership in managing change. Ensure these roles and responsibilities are updated as the project matures.

Understand the timing and ranking of leadership’s competing priorities.

  • Develop a leadership calendar to ensure the team understands the priorities and the availability of each leader.
  • Involve leadership in the process to ensure their initiatives are integrated at the “desk level”.

Resist the urge to provide leadership with mere talking points as the fulfillment of their communication responsibilities.

  • Prepare leadership with context to understand the impacts and timing of the changes to their teams.

I hope that this blog serves as a practical guide in how to ensure the active engagement of leadership throughout the change process.

Leadership engagement is complex, has many moving parts, and involves more than just the current project.

And while we can use tools (like the ones outlined here) to guide us, they are simply tools. They help us combine our experience with an understanding of the specifics of your organization’s changes. They define and focus our efforts. In addition, external consultants have limitations that require them to uniquely partner with internal resources e.g., Corporate Communications, HR, leadership, and internal change resources to name a few.

 

We would like to talk with you about how we’ve enabled organizations and leadership to create effective and sustainable change. Please call us or send an email to marketing@thecaragroup.com. We’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Embedding Change into “Business as Usual”

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Embedding change increases the likelihood of success and accelerates the timeframe to capture value from organizational transformations. Some recent findings from a McKinsey & Company report[1] highlight the importance of building our change efforts into our “business as usual” processes. While it may seem antithetical to incorporate change into your standing operational structures, companies are more likely to be successful and can realize the value faster – even up to six months sooner than their counterparts – by using these strategies. This article recommends a few methods that you can use to instill change into your operations.

So, why is it important to build organizational change efforts into routine business operations? Ultimately, our goal in large-scale transformations should be to look beyond the quick fix. Focusing on the short-term versus the long-term is an inefficient use of resources and may cause more harm than good.

What does this look like?

Executive briefings, setting business objectives/targets, conducting business reviews on a monthly or quarterly basis, and annual planning efforts are all examples of standing operational business processes in which you can embed your change efforts. Partner with your operational and finance colleagues to find strategies to incorporate your transformation into these processes.

What steps can you take to successfully embed the change?

A few recommended strategies include:

  1. Organizational Change Management should partner closely with operational and business partners. Look for ways to work closely within the existing infrastructure with your operational and business partners, versus implementing the change from a siloed perspective.
  2. Complete an initial assessment to identify areas for improvement and highlight areas to align resources for the change. Beyond processes, it is also important to identify how resources are being allocated – from a talent, capital and technology standpoint – to facilitate the change. An initial assessment is an important first step in this process.
  3. Identify ways to embed the change into standing business processes. Once you have identified the appropriate business partners, take the time to work through your existing business review processes and briefings to determine where it is easy, and most appropriate, to include your change strategies so that it is not perceived as a “one off” change.

As you consider different organizational change efforts, I highly encourage you to identify and explore different strategies to embed change into your standing business processes. Companies that implement these methods have been found to be anywhere from 1.2 to 2 times as likely to succeed in their transformations[2]. In addition, these strategies accelerate the timeline to capture value from these initiatives. Look for ways to incorporate this approach into your change efforts. And, as always, please reach out to The CARA Group for any assistance that you may require at marketing@thecaragroup.com.

[1]Losing from day one: Why even successful transformations fall short,” McKinsey & Company, Michael Bucy, Bill Schaninger, Kate VanAkin, and Brooke Weddle.

[2] Ibid.

2022 Business Trends Shaping OCM Value

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It’s early 2022. Time to pull out the old crystal ball and predict how the practice of Organization Change Management (OCM) will need to adapt to ensure successful change.

Before we do, however, let’s take a minute and define what we mean by OCM and how specifically it adds measurable value to organizations.

OCM Defined

OCM is a framework for managing the “people” side of change. The “people” side of change refers to the willingness, and ability, of people to learn and apply new skills, adopt to changes in the organization (e.g. operating model), changes in technology and processes, and new ways of working (e.g. collaboration).

THE VALUE OF OCM

I think it is safe to say that all organizations go through change and, for the ones that don’t, history tells us they ultimately die. So, what does this have to do with OCM’s future and its value?

OCM’s value is found in two distinct areas.

  1. Acceleration in the speed to which an organization adapts to change. New processes and technologies come to mind here. The time it takes for the workforce to learn and apply new skills is commonly called “the learning curve.” Shrinking the learning curve involves shortening the time to learn and apply new skills, and results in limiting the productivity loss that occurs with every change. The faster we can get to the future state the more quickly we can realize its benefits.
  2. Sustaining the benefits associated with the change. Oddly enough, we refer to this as sustainability and is driven by consistent change in behavior. An example of behavior change: Employees who work in an agile environment and collaborate, ask for help, and work with less than perfect information. Behavior change might also include eliminating the continued use of manual workarounds where a new technology is built on automation.

How does this help us understand the value of and predict trends in OCM? OCM is more than just a set of tools and methods. It is an integral part of the larger solution. It contributes to, and enables the success of, initiatives. As such, we are going to take a practical approach that first, identifies business trends (e.g., the impact of COVID-19, agile teams, strategic transformation), and second, identifies the OCM approach that best accelerates and ensures sustainability of the change.

Let’s get started:

McKinsey and Forbes predict 2022 will be a significant year for business change. I have summarized these, as well as other, predictions in the diagram below as well as the OCM response and respective value-added trends.

 

Wait! Before moving on you might be asking: isn’t the measurement of the success of OCM a trend? Why isn’t it included in the above? Good question! And an important one. We have chosen not to add it at this time as it is becoming standard fare. Having said that, we can now use data from measurement activities to assess and target OCM issues before they derail an initiative. We’ll cover this in detail as part of an upcoming blog.

So, what’s next?

We hope you found this article thought provoking and, more importantly, helpful in identifying areas where your OCM efforts can accelerate sustainable business value for your organization in 2022.

While our plan is to utilize our blog to take a deeper dive, provide examples, and case studies for each of the OCM responses above, please feel free to reach out to us as well at marketing@thecaragroup.com. We’d love to help you tailor your OCM program to your specific business changes and accelerate your business success.

Sources:

GARTNER: Businesses Move a Majority of their Applications to the Cloud

https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021-11-10-gartner-says-cloud-will-be-the-centerpiece-of-new-digital-experiences

DELOITTE: Business’s Take a Transformational (multi year) View of their Business

https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021-11-10-gartner-says-cloud-will-be-the-centerpiece-of-new-digital-experiences

FORBES: Significant Changes to the Operating Model

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2021/11/01/the-8-biggest-business-trends-in-2022/?sh=7f55e4e221da

McKINSEY AND COMPANY: Significant Changes to the Operating Model

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/agility-in-the-time-of-covid-19-changing-your-operating-model-in-an-age-of-turbulence

McKINSEY AND COMPANY: Significant Changes to the Operating Model

https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/agile-organizations

KORN FERRY: Workforce of the Future

https://www.kornferry.com/insights/featured-topics/future-of-work/2022-future-of-work-trends?utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_term=2022%20business%20trends&utm_content=report&utm_campaign=21-11-gbl-fow-trends&gclid=Cj0KCQiA0eOPBhCGARIsAFIwTs4lfasqmQJzFYxM9GgF4RlF5-M_-X9nwZNvu24iRp3UoWsCL9cxSTQaAmUvEALw_wcB

FORBES: An Agile Approach to the Business Continue to Gain Popularity

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2021/11/01/the-8-biggest-business-trends-in-2022/?sh=7f55e4e221da

DELOITTE: Continuation of Active Merger and Acquisition Activity

https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/mergers-and-acquisitions/articles/m-a-trends-report.html?id=us:2ps:3gl:fumatren:awa:ma:011422:ad1:keyword:matchtype:device:targetid&gclid=Cj0KCQiA0eOPBhCGARIsAFIwTs4QdMN7R5TKjBILP_t6bGRqp444IOA0hpI5JgrFFHEwMttcwzRj_EwaAjF2EALw_wcB

PWC: Ensuring productivity during COVID, Managing through Inflation, and labor shortages

https://www.pwc.com/us/en/library/pulse-survey/executive-views-2022.html

 

 

Break The Bias: Reflections on International Women’s Day 2022

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The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #BreaktheBias. Bias is tricky, often an unconscious, knee-jerk response to the unknown. It is perpetuated by culture, those unspoken assumptions of one group about another. Bias manifests itself as the thousand paper cuts of language itself, embedded in words and phrases so familiar they may not appear at first to contribute to equality’s cause of death. So how do we “break” bias?

If, at its core, bias originates in ignorance and fear, the natural antidote must be knowledge and compassion. When confronted with bias, we have a choice to respond by asking ourselves, “What did I just learn from this experience so that I can prevent it in the future?” When called out on our own unintended linguistic offenses (parents of teenagers know what I’m talking about), we can admit our ignorance, say, “Thank you – I’m learning,” and do our best to show it.

At The CARA Group, we have a motto: “Change, Learn, Grow”. This reflects the services we provide to our clients. It also describes our aspirations for the CARA culture. Being open to change means admitting that we don’t get better by staying the same. Having a learning culture means acknowledging that mistakes are inevitable. That growth is an individual and a group process that requires commitment, focus, and time. To #BreaktheBias requires a commitment to “Change, Learn, Grow”, to take the small individual steps that together become a giant leap for mankind humanity. (See what I did there?)

In honor of International Women’s Day 2022, let us take a moment to acknowledge the women of Ukraine, where the battle that is being fought is one of survival. In Ukraine, IWD has been a public holiday for decades. As we take the day to recommit to “Change, Learn, Grow” in our local communities, let us also honor these women who will not have the chance to celebrate. One only need to witness their strength and resilience to #BreaktheBias about what a woman can do.

 

Creating an Agile Organizational Learning Strategy

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Is your organizational learning strategy keeping pace with agile business strategy?

As a business leader, you have heard the buzz, “The Big Quit” … “The Great Reshuffle” …” Hybrid Workforce”, etc. As we headed into 2020, business and learning leaders were preparing for mass upskilling to enable the workforce of the future for digital transformation. Strategies were prepared and plans were made. And then came COVID-19.

“… what is your approach to ensuring your organizational learning strategy is appropriate for today’s business realities? Are you leading learning from a strategic point of view or from a to-do list?”

Fast forward two years, and as we prepare and implement our 2022 business and learning strategies, we still have a need to upskill and reskill for ongoing digital transformation, in addition to adjusting to new ways of working and fast changing market and consumer conditions. We are seeing businesses both merge and split. We are seeing rapid growth and the impact of the health crisis on employment.

So, what is your approach to ensuring your organizational learning strategy is appropriate for today’s business realities? Are you leading learning from a strategic point of view or from a to do list?

In our August 2019 blog “The 10 Elements of Organizational Learning Strategy” we said: “A well-crafted and rigorously executed organizational learning strategy can ensure that your learning and development organization supports the business in achieving the strategic goals set forth by senior leaders. Without a clear strategy, learning and development organizations tend to lose focus and effectiveness.” This holds true today.

Strategic Framework for Creating an Agile Learning and Development Strategy

Leverage the strategic framework and review the statements below to audit your approach to creating a L&D Strategy that aligned to your business strategy.

 

 

Put yourself into the role of a L&D leader in your business as your review the statements below. Any statement that you cannot say yes to can become an action taken to create or improve upon your L&D Strategy.

DEFINE BUSINESS PRIORITIES

  • I know the key business strategies and initiatives that the learning organization will need to support. (i.e.: new lines of business, new ways of working, merger/acquisitions, market expansions, technology adoption, etc.)
  • I meet with key stakeholders and/or appropriate business leaders to understand their initiatives and identify support needed and/or expected.
  • I am aligned with other Talent Management work streams such as recruiting, performance management and succession planning.

CONDUCT L&D SWOT

  • Through assessment and surveys, I have documented my team’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • I stay connected with external influences to understand opportunities to leverage new learning techniques, technologies, delivery methods.
  • I understand what legislation and regulations may impact learning policies and procedures.

SECURE SPONSORSHIP

  • L&D has a sponsor who advocates for the organizational learning strategy with senior decision makers.
  • I present the L&D strategy and plans to senior decision makers to gain feedback and alignment.
  • Senior decision makers keep me informed of business shifts so that plans can be adjusted.

DEVELOP KPIs

  • I have KPIs defined and agreed upon to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and business results.
  • I have an actionable scorecard or measurement system developed to track KPIs.

ENABLE EXECUTION

  • A plan has been created to depict learning projects, programs design and delivery dates.
  • Systems and processes are in place to ensure learning projects run smoothly.
  • The L&D team is upskilled to support the execution of the strategy.
  • Subject matter experts are oriented to their role and expectations for partnering with the Learning Organization.

MEASURE, COMMUNICATE & ADJUST

  • I keep key stakeholders informed of KPIs discussing what, so what and now what based on metrics.
  • Learning costs are calculated regularly and reviewed.

What connects all the elements of the framework is ongoing communication with your key stakeholders. This cadence of communication is essential to determine if your organizational learning strategy is enabling your business strategy. While an annual planning process kick starts your year, ongoing measurement and communication is essential to ensure that your strategy powers the performance of your workforce and enables business strategy.

Contact us if you would like to discuss your organizational learning strategy needs at marketing@thecaragroup.com.