Change within organisations is a complex thing. On one hand, change can introduce new, more efficient work processes and enhance the overall productivity of an organisation. While on the other hand, change to these processes simultaneously introduces the risk of reducing the effectiveness of the organisation. During critical times of operation, a reduction in productivity may be all it takes to collapse an organisation, and many leaders within large organisations fear change as a result. However, in the fast-paced global economy we’re a part of, it is often an inability to adapt that is the eventual downfall of these same organisations. Just look at the movie rental giant Blockbuster, who in 2004 were bringing in upwards of $6 billion USD in yearly revenue. At that time, Netflix was just an unknown start-up; however, Blockbusters inability to foresee and adapt to the digital revolution, led to their collapse just six years later, and to the rise of Netflix who are now bringing in upwards of $28 billion a year.
The failure of Blockbuster, and countless other once-successful companies, show just how essential it is to be open-minded towards change within an organisation. Concepts brought about by the team should be analysed to determine their feasibility based on potential impact vs difficulty to implement, and once a particular change is decided to be worth pursuing – the real challenge begins. Organisations (for the most part) rely heavily on the functionality of human participants to operate and manage their activities. This makes implementing change a very personal process, involving many different people, all with different interests and values. To be successful in turning conceptual change, into real world productivity within an organisation, it is important to recognise the impact of human values and create tailored strategies around how changes will be introduced, and how the team will be supported during implementation. This process can have many different forms, but we’ve identified the following as keys to effective change management within organisations.
1. Define the change and clearly align it to the goals of the organisation
To successfully implement a change, you must ensure you completely understand it first. Aim to concisely define your particular change, using terminology that is understandable to everyone within your organisation. This will ensure the change can be clearly communicated as the implementation process unfolds. Once the change in question has been clearly defined, it is important to evaluate how it aligns with the overall goals and motivations of the organisation. This will allow you to build understanding of how the change will align strategically, financially and ethically to the holistic direction of the organisation.
2. Determine the individuals within the organisation that are affected
All organisations (besides blockchain-based Decentralised Autonomous Organisations or DAO’s – which are a conversation for another article) are managed or operated, for the most part, by humans. This means that implementing change within an organisation will affect real people, and you need to be critically aware of this. It is important to evaluate all the members of your organisation that will be directly or indirectly affected by the change, in order to prepare to effectively introduce it to these people.
3. Determine the impact of the change
Once you’ve evaluated who within your organisation will be affected, it’s time to look at how they will be affected. A particular change will impact people in different ways depending on the type of change, and the individual’s values and role within the organisation. It is essential to understand how each individual will be impacted before implementing any change, as this will allow you to identify any possible sources of friction before they cause problems, and design effective strategies for streamlining these interactions.
4. Design a tailored communication strategy
Communication is key to successful change, and effective communication looks very different to everyone. Recognising this will allow you to design a highly efficient communication strategy based on your understanding of your team members, their values, and the impact of the particular change on each of them individually. Continually adapting your communication style to best fit the individuals you are engaged with will stimulate a productive learning environment, and lead to successful implementation of conceptual changes.
5. Provide relevant training programs
Systems and processes within organisations do not change overnight; and the people involved in implementing the change, often need some guidance to do so effectively. It is essential to put in place relevant training programs, allowing those involved to develop understanding of the new methodology, and begin to implement it correctly. Training programs can also be made collaborative, helping to ensure that everyone in your organisation is on the same page.
6. Create effective support channels
Everyone within your organisation is different, and they will all handle a particular change in their own way. In order to help the organisation succeed, it is useful to provide highly accessible support channels, that members can individually engage for assistance. This will allow the members of your organisation to feel more comfortable with the change, and also help them to more effectively implement it.
7. Measure impact and iterate for success
The most successful organisations build their products or services based the needs of their target audience, and frequently iterate them based on direct feedback from their customers. This method ensures that what they’re building meets the expectations of their customers. The same way, organisations should seek feedback from their members about particular changes during implementation. This will allow them to understand the impact on members, and iterate the implementation of the change, or the change itself, to better fit their expectations.
No matter the circumstances, major change within organisations is always complex. Successful change starts with acknowledging the individuals that it will impact and transparently involving them in the implementation process. Organisations need to understand that individuals will always have their own perspective on particular changes, and that effective communication and support will look different to each person. With this in mind, organisations should aim to tailor their implementation strategy for different types of individuals and continually iterate these strategies based on feedback from those involved. Nothing can guarantee that your future changes will be successful, but the keys outlined in this article are highly effective tools for managing them effectively. In essence, the more attention you pay to the individuals you affect, the more successful you will be in turning conceptual change, into real world productivity for your organisation
Author: Hailey Romeo – Liberty IT Head of Marketing