Managing Sustainable Change

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7-30 Sustainable Change
“We have over two thousand people impacted by this new system. How will we reach everyone in a way that fosters sustainability?”

We were about to implement a sizeable, new timesheet system at a very large enterprise. Acknowledging that a key success factor for a project of this scale hinged on how we approached change management, we embarked on planning our tactic for tackling it. Capturing attention using an approach that enables individuals to consider the situation and then to actually modify their work habits is no small task, but one worth undertaking if a new business solution is to be embraced in a sustainable manner.

Organizations constantly undergo some form of change, whether it is bringing on new leadership, implementing a new process or deploying a new policy. What’s of value is identifying and learning from what worked and what didn’t. So, we asked leaders from across the organization how change had been approached in the past. We heard many different responses from “it wasn’t considered” to “we didn’t do enough”. Team members were, however, utilizing the company’s intranet to “follow” new IT initiatives, and the organization was accustomed to participating in town hall-style gatherings to share information.

Armed with concepts, we strategized on how to best capture attention and compel the organization to become aware, educated, and prepared to utilize our new system. Our focus was to communicate often, be informative and produce no surprises. We created a plan and timeline that would guide our change management activities, including:

  • Establishing interactions with executives
  • Forming working groups
  • Creating an intranet site to share progress and information
  • Crafting informative yet concise email campaigns
  • Distributing monthly newsletters
  • Facilitating Town Hall style sessions
  • Providing web-based training
  • Delivering instructor led training

Our goal was to provide ample opportunities to interact with the user-base and for team members to understand what was going to happen, when it was happening, and what it meant to them. Executive interactions enabled leadership to join forces and become promoters for the new system. Working Groups provided ample opportunities to discuss design concepts and offered us a pool of user acceptance testers to draw from when needed. A dedicated site on the company’s intranet site became campaign headquarters with over a quarter of the user-base “following” posted schedules, upcoming events, and weekly progress reports. Town Hall style forums provided direct interaction with the user-base and were used to generate awareness, educate the populous and provide answers to outstanding questions. Email campaigns were distributed to the entire user-base and provided connections to those individuals not participating in any other manner. While training was not considered mandatory, over 30% participated in web-based training and/or in the instructor-led training.

The impacted user community was encircled with information about the upcoming system deployment creating a buzz of dialog discussing what was going to be happening, when and why. Recognizing that the cascade of activities does not in itself generate sustainability, we acknowledge it produces a foundation for change to occur. Sustainability requires long term commitment and access to information. With the long term in mind, a support desk was established to provide users with on-going access to answers and a connection to the operations team responsible for maintaining and enhancing the system.

At the end of the day, it is the user-base who holds the key to sustainability through their adoption and adaption of the new system. It is our job to guide the users through the change journey.