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TransformationApr 28, 2021

Change Management: Solving the Change Equation in a Virtual World  

Kaitleigh Booth, Austin Adams, and Margaret Ollinger

Change management is sometimes overlooked, but it’s an integral component to maximizing value for organizations implementing people, process, or technology transformation programs. One of the challenges many organizations face is establishing a targeted and intentional change management effort that achieves their desired business outcomes. In fact, 70% of change management strategies fail to achieve their intended goals according to a McKinsey & Company report—and these statistics were calculated before a global pandemic pushed the working world into the virtual space. 

In today’s evolving work environment, many established tactics that previously influenced change adoption, such as human connection, in-person training, and physical communication, are no longer a viable option. Organizations now need to be even more strategic and intentional with their change management initiatives.

At Credera, we leverage our change management equation to intently focus on the key pillars required to overcome the inertia that typically plagues organizations. We will explore how the change equation can be utilized to drive successful change management efforts in a virtual world. 

The Change Equation: Guide to Delivering Successful Organizational Change Management 

The change equation is a proven method that highlights three key variables required to overcome inherent organizational inertia. Successful change transformation is more likely to occur when the product of the dissatisfaction, sponsorship, and people strategy variables are greater than inertia. 

We recently utilized the change equation on an end-to-end remote engagement for a marketing client. Our client was in the process of implementing a revolutionary new technology that would affect stakeholders’ ways of working throughout the organization. To unlock their new technology platform’s full potential, our client needed a change management strategy that enabled mass awareness, adoption, and preparation for their future ways of working.

In this article, we will further unpack the meaning of each change equation variable, provide methods to tip the scale toward change adoption, and share real world success stories from our client engagement.

Dissatisfaction: The Organization’s Case for Change

In the simplest form, the dissatisfaction variable represents unhappiness with the current ways of working. In order to develop initial change momentum, an organization must be able to articulate its existing challenges and translate them into a future state change vision. For our client implementing a new technology solution, we addressed the dissatisfaction variable by defining a holistic case for change.

The case for change defines the vision for the project, the key areas affected by the change, and establishes the ‘why’ for stakeholders. Messaging in the case for change should be aligned with leadership, focused on win themes, and integrated into the change communication strategy. 

A Well-Defined Case for Change:

  • Solidifies stakeholders’ understanding of why the current ways of working are insufficient.

  • Explains why the change is important in relevant terms.

  • Defines how the change will positively affect stakeholders. 

In a virtual environment, the case for change needs to be visible and pervasive throughout the organization to improve the likelihood the information is consumed. By utilizing numerous communication channels such as newsletters, team forums, and targeted emails, the aforementioned client achieved 100% awareness of the case for change. 

As stakeholders acknowledge the future state vision and the unsatisfactory nature of the current state, the dissatisfaction variable begins to rise, tipping the equation, and stakeholders, to favor change over inertia.

Sponsorship: Deploying Change Advocates

The primary goal of the sponsorship variable is to leverage influential advocates to amplify the case for change and enhance the communication and training strategies. Change advocates who are both informed and supportive of the change are capable of accelerating adoption company-wide. A secondary goal is to identify any potential detractors or blockers of change adoption and to define the appropriate strategies to convert them to advocates.

For our marketing client, we deployed advocates using a two-tier process. First, we began by identifying a set of change leaders who were widely respected in the organization. We then transitioned to building a larger group of change champions who had the ability to persuade stakeholders within their respective departments. In total, we engaged over 20 change advocates from the onset of the program who helped shape the vision and execution of the change process.

Change Leadersinfluential stakeholders who accelerate organizational change management:

  • Executives and senior leadership whose presence and opinions are well esteemed throughout the company.

  • Build momentum and positivity throughout the organization, utilizing the case for change as the foundation for messaging to their respective audiences.

  • Set the tone for the change and ensure the organization is prepared for change adoption, including on-boarding and training.

Change Champions—key stakeholders who shape the change management process:

  • Representatives from each department or team affected by the change.  

  • Consist of stakeholders who are well respected by peers or team members.

  • Help rapidly spread the vision and messaging for the change. 

  • Support the development and delivery of training.

  • Held accountable by change leaders and more carefully monitored to avoid detractors who may spread negativity.

Change leaders and change champions should be leveraged as advisors and enablers for all change management efforts. When involved in the development and execution of the communication and training strategies, change leaders and change champions are empowered to accelerate the path to ROI for an organization undergoing transformational change. 

People Strategy: Targeted Change Communication and Training

People strategy is the last variable in the change equation and is applicable to all change stakeholders. Addressing this variable begins with a communication strategy focused on delivering the right message to the right audience, from the right leaders, at the right time. The communication strategy should be followed by a tailored training strategy that provides stakeholders an opportunity to learn the new ways of working. Finally, the people strategy should encompass a go-forward approach that ensures change efforts do not lose momentum. 

Communicationdelivering the right change management messaging:

A comprehensive communication strategy helps organizations overcome the challenge of promoting change in a virtual environment. The communication strategy needs to include a focus on both mass communication and tailored cascades of information. The key is knowing when and how to use each form of communication and identifying the appropriate messengers for the greatest impact. 

Mass communication is used for general promotion and information:

  • Used when initially promoting the case for change to the organization.

  • Leveraged to broadly publish general program information, dates, or timelines.

  • Distributed by senior leaders within the organization.

  • Takes the form of newsletters, Teams or SharePoint announcements, or any other communication vessel with wide accessibility. 

Targeted communication is used for role-specific promotion and information: 

  • Leveraged more heavily and includes messaging that is specific. For example, context for how the change is relevant to a stakeholder’s role and ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIIFM) messaging.

  • Addresses information on role-specific trainings, resources, and key dates.

  • Delivered by change leaders, change champions, or team leaders to ensure the framing, tone, and messaging are appropriate for each stakeholder group.

  • Takes the form of targeted emails or direct messages.

Trainingpreparing end users for change adoption and transformation:

The training strategy is of equal importance to the communication strategy. Change leaders and change champions should be involved from the onset of training development to help tailor curriculum toward different user roles. By properly leveraging the knowledge of our marketing clients’ change advocates, we were able to deliver over 15 role-specific, instructor-led, training workshops with 95% end-user participation. Note, there are a few key considerations worth exploring when planning for training in a remote setting. 

Training when delivered in a virtual setting, should ideally include the following:

  • Virtual instructor-led workshops tailored to user roles to ensure end-user engagement.

  • Recordings of trainings and/or utilization of online training platforms to support the on-boarding of new hires or stakeholders who could not attend instructor led training.

  • Artifacts, such as user guides, cheat sheets, or instruction sets that allow stakeholders to continue learning at their own pace.

Knowledge sharing doesn’t end after the training has been delivered. Prepare change champions and change leaders to facilitate continued learning by having them host virtual office hours. We empowered change leaders and change champions to facilitate over 20 office hour sessions in the weeks after our marketing client’s go-live. These office hours provide stakeholders a safe place to ask clarifying questions or to seek guidance on how to better perform their roles in the new ways of working, thus perpetuating the adoption process.

The final piece of the people strategy is empowering change leaders and change champions to sustain the positive change momentum. Align with these change agents to develop a continuation plan for communication and training. We supported our marketing client’s change advocates by providing change artifacts including user guides, cheat sheets, and online training curriculum to support continued learning. The transition of change ownership will happen organically if the change leaders and change champions were properly utilized in defining and executing the change management strategies from the beginning of the program. Bringing change agents along the change management journey prepares them to successfully support the change campaign well into the future. 

For more information on Credera’s approach to people strategy, read our change management plan insights on ‘People Factors’ for a Successful Transformation.

Creating an Effective Change Management Plan

Effective change management is essential for organizations seeking to maximize the value of people, process, or technology implementations. Change awareness and adoption is often difficult to achieve without the additional challenge of working in a virtual world. However, an organizational change management strategy that uses the appropriate methods to pull the levers of the change equation can expedite a client’s ROI.

Credera recently implemented a successful virtual organizational change management strategy in just 16 weeks for a marketing client. By strategically deploying the tactics outlined above to address the dissatisfaction, sponsorship, and people strategy variables of the change equation, our client was able to overcome change inertia and rapidly ascended to change integration.

There are always unique challenges to implementing change programs, particularly in today’s world, but here at Credera, we have the right frameworks, tools, and people to help organizations accelerate the path to value realization for transformational programs. 

Interested in implementing a change management strategy at your company? Visit our Program & Change Leadership page or email us at findoutmore@credera.com to learn more from our boutique, change management consulting firm.

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