A strong change management program requires more than a strong change management plan. It requires a plan that transforms change management into an ongoing priority for your organization. As I’ve stated in the other change management articles on LaunchStreet, change management should be more than just a point-in-time exercise. To be successful it should be an ongoing mindset that change is a leverageable asset and transform change into a strategic priority.
However, there are also times when a team needs to dial up the change management. Perhaps there is a big initiative being rolled out or a shift in marketplace tactics that needs to get adopted across departments. When this is the case, I suggest thinking about a plan that provides extra energy and resources to your teams so that they can move forward as a team and embrace the shift.
A smart change management plan will minimize resistance and increase adoption.
Two elements that ultimately can make or break an initiative. I’ve seen the best projects go down in flames because they failed to anticipate or act on those two key elements – resistance and adoption.
I can’t emphasize enough that a successful change management program needs to be built on the foundation of an innovative culture that embraces change. Without that to begin with, most new initiatives fail. In a 2013 Strategy& article about the Katzenback Center’s survey of global senior leaders on culture and change management, they found that only 54% of change initiatives were successful.
A 54% success rate, i.e. a 46% failure rate, is about the same odds of black or red at the roulette table.
I would suggest that many of those failures were due to a lack of a solid innovative culture. If change and innovation aren’t embraced on a daily basis, just imagine how hard it is to embrace it for a start-stop project.
However, with a solid foundation of a culture of innovation and some extra juice for big initiatives, success is round the corner.
If you are about to launch a large initiative that requires additional change management focus, here are some critical drivers I suggest you consider that will help ensure long-term success.
Dream Resistance: Think of every possible reason for resistance to the new approach, both objective and emotional. You’d be surprised how much of our resistance to change is grounded in emotional reasons. Once you’ve dreamed up every possible reason, dream up some more. Then go through and ask yourself, “what would it take to get over that?” In those answers are the key to minimizing resistance.
Take Steps Out Of Adoption: Have you ever gone to a website eager to buy something and then ten clicks in you get annoyed and leave? Yet, if you go to Amazon you can buy just about anything with one-click. Talk about taking out the friction and making the adoption seamless. Are there steps you can remove or ideas you can implement that will make adoption easy and maybe even fun?
360 Degree Stakeholders: I often see change initiatives fail because the full list of stakeholders was not taken into account. Not just those at the core, but also the influencers, the ones down the line that have to implement, and those impacted by the change. If you want to be successful with your change project, you must look at the stakeholder list from a 360 degree view, including everyone impacted. Then you can look at the initiative from all their perspectives and craft plans and communication that speak to their needs. Ultimately this leads to the buy-in you need for success.
Key Sponsorship: Every organization has them. People that have the ability to influence how others view an idea. While they are often times in leadership, don’t overlook the front lines staff. Those rock star employees with peer influence are as critical to the success of your project as leadership. Get your key sponsors on board and you’ll see a tremendous increase in buy-in and adoption.
Innovation: Let’s face it, dealing with massive change is easier said than done. Another key, and often overlooked, element of a smart change management plan is providing your teams with the extra innovation tools and resources they need to thrive. When you provide them with tools, like our online, micro-lesson based program, the IQE Pro Innovation Toolkit, you accomplish two important elements that could make or break your outcomes.
- Investment: Providing access to those extra, yet important, tools show your team you are invested in their success. When employees feel invested in, they are more engaged, more flexible and more invested in the outcomes you are trying to accomplish.
- Resource: We each deal with change in a different way. While you may have done your best to build a thorough plan, people still need to seek out and find solutions that work for them. When you provide access to tools like LaunchStreet On Demand, you are giving them the freedom to find their own solutions. They have a resource that they can access when they need it most. We’ve also discovered in our work with clients, that individuals who are given room to find their own solutions to manage change have more overall buy-in to the bigger picture.
In summary, a strong change management plan can be broken down into two key elements – resistance and adoption.
And when you’ve spent time and energy creating a strong foundation built on a culture of innovation, resistance is low and adoption is high. When you dial up the change, people get dialed up with you, not against you.
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Tamara Ghandour of GoToLaunchStreet is a TED speaker and entrepreneur. From building and running multimillion dollar businesses, advising Fortune 500 like Disney, Procter and Gamble and RICOH on fostering innovative ideas and people. Tamara’s life is about breaking through the status quo for game-changing results, and that’s what her keynotes, online programs and assessments can do for you.