Author: Natalie Sieberichs

The CIO’s next key role: Change agent

Full article with thanks to https://www.cio.com/article/3586258/the-cios-next-key-role-change-agent.html

For today’s IT leaders, change management is more than technical. It’s about spearheading cultural transformation at every level of the business.

February 26, 2020, looms large for Carol Juel for a number of reasons. It was her twins’ seventh birthday, and the executive vice president and CIO of Synchrony was scrambling to get home to join the festivities. The day also took on new contours as a routine meeting exploring AWS Workspace technology subsequently laid the groundwork for the firm’s near-real-time transition to remote work as COVID-19 took hold as a global pandemic.

Synchrony sent its 4,000 knowledge workers home on March 13 and followed up with a plan that set up 12,000 call center employees with remote operations a scant two weeks later. Shortly thereafter, Juel and the executive leadership team formally launched an enterprise transformation effort to embrace the very agile business practices that got the remote work effort up and running so quickly. Their goal: to favorably position Synchrony to quickly adapt as it stared down a future of continuously changing scenarios and uncertain markets.

“It was a logistics and communications exercise, but also a leadership exercise,” she says. “It’s not just about technology; it’s about an agile mindset and the cultural changes that allow for digital transformation. The role of the CIO is to connect those dots and help the organization move and adapt quickly.”

As Juel’s experience shows, digital transformation has catapulted CIOs into the epicenter of organizational change, not just as a cheerleader for technology, but as a key change agent for promoting the cultural shifts necessary for successful transformation. According to CIO.com’s 2020 State of the CIO research, CIOs are spending more time on transformational responsibilities (89%) and business strategist work (67%), including leading change efforts (34%).

While playing a hand in organizational and cultural change isn’t exactly new to the CIO role, it’s newly important as the pace of digital efforts steps up and the pandemic forces massive shifts in day-to-day business operations, the future of work, and how companies engage with customers and business partners.

“The role of the CIO is to move the organization from thinking about building digital strategies to building a strategy that works for a digital world,” says Randy Gaboriault, CIO and senior vice president for innovation and strategic development at Christiana Care Health System. “CIOs don’t just implement technology; they implement organizational change through applications or technologies. What you’re trying to do when putting in a new ERP system or electronic health record is asking people to change their behavior.”

Partnering with the business

CIOs have typically dabbled on the edges of change management, focused mainly on promoting the technology piece but leaving the organizational and cultural issues to others in leadership positions. Now that the CIO role is all in, CIOs are building out a toolkit of sorts, which includes embracing agile business practices and launching training initiatives and communications campaigns, all while burnishing their own ability to take on new challenges related to leading organizational and cultural transformation.

As roles shift, Darren Ash, assistant CIO for the USDA Farm Production and Conservation Mission Area, says it’s critical for CIOs to act as an enabler and a partner with the business—not just to identify and deploy technologies to solve business problems, but to get everyone on board with new ways of working. Ash and his IT team do that through direct and sustained outreach to frontline workers in the various mission areas that comprise the USDA agency, including soliciting feedback from agency personnel and final customers to promote transformation. These efforts are designed to increase the stickiness of any digital initiative and to ensure everyone is onboard with the art of the possible when it comes to new implementations.

“It’s our responsibility to better educate the business on technology and how it can be used,” Ash explains. “For us to drive change, we have to be better partners with the business, specifically the frontline employees across the mission areas and not just IT employees.”

Ash and his CIO agency peers also make a point to have their teams capture the voice of the customer—in this case, farmers and ranchers dependent on agency services—to gauge what works or what can be done better and to foster organic support. “We talk to them about something as simple as workflow or how many clicks are too many or are we asking the right questions,” he says.

Ash and his team recently deployed their change management playbook to help employees and agency clients embrace a new electronic signature application and secure document sharing software designed to address the challenges of in-person transactions during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Through training and how-to guides, Ash’s IT group worked with business partners to make sure everyone knew how to use the technology and was comfortable with the changes. “Rolling out technology like this is not IT-centric—it has to be done in partnership with the agencies to appropriately communicate how it should be used,” he explains.

The vitality of training

Robust training and e-learning initiatives are a central pillar of Avery Dennison’s cultural change strategy in support of its digital business initiatives, whether they are targeted at improving employee, customer, factory, or product experiences.

As part of its Digital Innovation Center of Excellence (DICE), the training aims to nurture digital dexterity across the workforce with an emphasis on design thinking, agile methodology, DevOps, and digital technologies. The multifaceted program leans on a combination of webcasts, instructor-led training, e-learning, and targeted communication to get Avery Dennison employees up to speed and comfortable with the ongoing changes as the business becomes more digital, according to Nicholas Colisto, vice president and CIO for the global manufacturer of labeling and functional technologies. “It’s a push to educate the masses on what different technologies and practices exist,” Colisto says.

In addition to the learning initiatives, Avery Dennison offers a six-month Digital Leadership Acceleration Program to 20 non-IT leaders, providing them with in-depth technology and leadership training and setting them up as digital business champions.

Proof of concept work at DICE is the third component for promoting a digital culture. “If we left it to the masses, you wouldn’t get a lot of traction with [new digital initiatives],” he explains. “Everyone has a day job working on ERP or CRM, so time is limited to experiment with emerging technologies.”

Brushing up on leadership skills

CIOs themselves need to take the time to learn a host of new skills, most significantly in the area of communications, in order to effectively lead the cultural change that goes hand in glove with digital transformation, according to Noreen Duffy, CEO and founder of Red Bridge Consulting, an organizational change management consulting firm.

Not only not only do CIOs need to speak the language of business, they also need to be able to communicate effectively in the language of C-level executives, with the board and with the development team, which is increasingly leaning on agile, not waterfall, methodologies.

“The CIO needs to have a different mindset to be a partner, to be change resilient, and to be able to communicate that up and down several levels of an organization,” Duffy says. “CIOs need to be multilingual—they need to be able to effectively communicate with their team with an understanding of what agile looks like, then up and out to business partners in their language and to VPs and the board in their language.”

Mihai Strusievici, vice president of technology, global, at real estate giant Colliers International, went back to get his MBA in preparation for leading the change that comes with digital transformation. He views his role as an educator—not in explaining the various technologies, but in clarifying, in terms the business understands, how the new digital capabilities can empower the business.

While Strusievici has made progress leveraging business-speak to forge alliances with key colleagues like the CFO as well as deep within the business ranks, he believes it’s crucial to think of cultural shifts as a marathon, not a sprint.

“We are enjoying a moment because of the [COVID] crisis and because everyone understands that technology is carrying them forward,” he explains. “While the last five months have changed the culture, it’s still too early [to consider the work done].”  

COVID-19 accelerates change

At Synchrony, agile business practices are part of a longer term cultural shift, but the do-or-die effort back in March kicked everything into high gear, Juel says. Once knowledge workers were up and running successfully at home, the management team prioritized creating a healthy, safe environment for all contact center employees, launching the #GetOurRepsHome campaign, creating a 24/7 command center to work through all of the logistics and hosting twice-daily standup meetings between C-suite executives to get the effort over the finish line.

After the rollout in mid-April and a couple of months to stabilize, the management team realized agile business practices would be crucial going forward. Handpicked leaders were tasked with being champions to help drive the change efforts along with executive team sponsors, and there was regular communication to acclimate employees to agile business practices such as continuous improvement or the dos and don’ts of a standup meeting.

“We want to continue to be adaptable and nimble, and we realized we had to make this cultural transformation a priority for the company,” Juel says. “The company is ripe for transformation because we are all hyperconnected but physically isolated, and because of that, we have a real opportunity to change how we operate.”

With all the COVID-induced changes over the past six months—closing retail shops and manufacturing lines and transitioning to remote work—David Behen, vice president and CIO at La-Z-Boy, also sees an upside to the pandemic. He says the efforts to get employees working safely at home and ensuring business continuity helped establish a foundation of trust between employees and management and IT and the business, which aids in cultural transformation.

“We sent people tutorials and emails walking them through all the new tools and processes, and they embraced it,” he says. “We spent the last five years telling them technology was an enabler that would make their jobs easier, then this happened. Once the rug was pulled out from under their feet, they realized this is real.”

Even with the stepped-up focus on organizational change and the goodwill that COVID-19 has engendered in getting people to pull together, it remains difficult to change culture. Applying a one-size-fits-all approach or directing change through top-down mandates will not move the needle, cautions Sharon Kennedy Vickers, CIO in the Office of Technology and Communications for the city of St. Paul. Inertia is a formidable force, which is why transparency and soliciting buy-in at every level of the organization is so critical to successful change management, she adds.

“In any type of change, sometimes the headwind is this is the way we’ve always done it,” adds USDA’s Ash. “Mandating change doesn’t work without explanation, without understanding or without the opportunity to listen to concerns. The better we are at explaining and listening and, in some cases, adjusting, the better off we’ll be.”

Full article with thanks to https://www.cio.com/article/3586258/the-cios-next-key-role-change-agent.html

Survive and thrive in the post-pandemic period digital transformation

Full article with thanks to https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/survive-and-thrive-the-post-pandemic-period-digital-transformation-1931665

The ongoing pandemic has brought us one of the biggest crises we have ever faced in terms of health and safety, employment and the overall economy.

This is an unprecedented situation and to win this battle, our leaders in both public and private sectors need to think differently, go beyond the traditional means, and bring about digital transformation in both public and private organisations to survive and thrive in the aftermath of coronavirus.

But what is digital transformation? Digital transformation is about applying technologies to drastically change traditional processes, products and services into data-driven, highly connected solutions that can be monetised through extreme efficiency gains and new business models.

The pandemic has shown us that a business cannot wait for the transformation it knows it needs.

In a recent survey conducted by Forbes among the Fortune 500 companies, 75 per cent of their chief executive officers mentioned that this crisis will accelerate the pace of technological transformation in their companies and across industries.

We are already seeing a growing number of organisations investing in technologies — from business intelligence and demand forecast to marketing, customer support, supply chain and back office transformation.

However, there is a caveat to optimise the return on investment of IT spending by the companies. Many IT departments work reactively.

They are executing ad hoc projects with short-term goals rather than proactively steering the strategic use of technologies within the company.

Now that enterprises are dealing with more IT initiatives than ever, such a reactive approach is at best ineffective and at worst detrimental to growth.

Instead, there should be a comprehensive digital transformation strategy to guide different projects, providing a holistic and long-term vision to the organisation’s technological needs.

The transformation theme for the next era will be focused on six key areas of business: (i) understanding customers — how we design and sell products; (ii) supply chain automation — how supply chain networks become part of the digital ecosystem; (iii) operational efficiency — how we improve operations and leverage new technology options; (iv) modern workforce — how we re-energise and manage our people remotely; (v) accelerating digital investments — how we prioritise and implement digital initiatives; and (vi) business model evolution — how to leverage digitally modified business.

We have seen that as soon as physical distancing and home quarantine were enforced around the globe, companies that were already utilising digital means of running operations or quickly adopted solutions like remote work tools stayed productive amid this pandemic.

On the other hand, companies without technological adoption struggled the most.

We are lucky to be living in the “Industry 4.0” era.

With the integration of tools, re-engineered processes, and emerging technologies such as internet of things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud technologies etc., most of the businesses across industries can automate as much as 90 per cent of their workflows.

Short-sighted executives will still look for ways to cut down IT costs believing that it will help them survive.

However, it is the traditional way of thinking, and our traditional way of running a business has already failed us.

The giant mammoths could not survive the ice age with all their might by not adapting to climate change, but those who evolved did.

The evolution for our enterprises in the upcoming days translates to digital transformation and the visionary long-sighted leaders like the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have already understood the importance of allocating their limited resources to invest in IT solutions and automation.

The very first step towards achieving that evolution is to prepare a digital transformation roadmap for the organisation.

So, what is a digital transformation roadmap?

A digital transformation roadmap is a long-term, detailed set of documents that encompass the company’s vision and strategic planning for technological transformation.

It will provide a unifying approach to implement tools and technologies across the company which will increase efficiency, reduce duplication of work, enhance collaboration, and in turn, will minimise errors and operational costs to a great extent.

Moreover, it will ensure that the business remains operational during the pandemic and prolonged lockdowns.

A well-designed digital transformation strategy should have some essential elements such as alignment with business objectives, mission and vision; defining IT requirements and scope; auditing current capabilities and infrastructure; defining overall architecture; mapping business processes within the IT architecture; defining objectives and key results; validating budget and identification of the right resources.

Our company eGeneration with our world-class productivity solutions and deep expertise in emerging technologies is proud to help many leading global and local organisations formulate their digital transformation strategies to thrive in the next era.

To ensure success in that digital-first world, we have to create a shared transformative vision of digital future, engage employees at scale to make the vision a reality, establish strong digital governance to steer the course, and fuse IT and business to build digital skills and transform technology platforms.

When the Industry 4.0 revolution started, it allowed us to embrace technologies in our workflows.

Some of us took that opportunity but many of us waited.

This pandemic has come with a new reality that will not allow us to wait any longer.

Companies that will embrace the new normal with digital transformation will choose the road to prosperity post-pandemic and beyond.

However, the companies that will not integrate technology in their business functions, who are still hostile to technology, are going to have a very hard time doing business in near future because the technological transformation across the industries will be massive and mind-boggling.

Now is the time to think bravely, plan boldly and act wisely.

Full article with thanks to https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/survive-and-thrive-the-post-pandemic-period-digital-transformation-1931665

The Hard Side of Change Management

Full article with thanks to https://hbr.org/2005/10/the-hard-side-of-change-management

When French novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” he could have been penning an epigram about change management. For over three decades, academics, managers, and consultants, realizing that transforming organizations is difficult, have dissected the subject. They’ve sung the praises of leaders who communicate vision and walk the talk in order to make change efforts succeed. They’ve sanctified the importance of changing organizational culture and employees’ attitudes. They’ve teased out the tensions between top-down transformation efforts and participatory approaches to change. And they’ve exhorted companies to launch campaigns that appeal to people’s hearts and minds. Still, studies show that in most organizations, two out of three transformation initiatives fail. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Managing change is tough, but part of the problem is that there is little agreement on what factors most influence transformation initiatives. Ask five executives to name the one factor critical for the success of these programs, and you’ll probably get five different answers. That’s because each manager looks at an initiative from his or her viewpoint and, based on personal experience, focuses on different success factors. The experts, too, offer different perspectives. A recent search on Amazon.com for books on “change and management” turned up 6,153 titles, each with a distinct take on the topic. Those ideas have a lot to offer, but taken together, they force companies to tackle many priorities simultaneously, which spreads resources and skills thin. Moreover, executives use different approaches in different parts of the organization, which compounds the turmoil that usually accompanies change.

In recent years, many change management gurus have focused on soft issues, such as culture, leadership, and motivation. Such elements are important for success, but managing these aspects alone isn’t sufficient to implement transformation projects. Soft factors don’t directly influence the outcomes of many change programs. For instance, visionary leadership is often vital for transformation projects, but not always. The same can be said about communication with employees. Moreover, it isn’t easy to change attitudes or relationships; they’re deeply ingrained in organizations and people. And although changes in, say, culture or motivation levels can be indirectly gauged through surveys and interviews, it’s tough to get reliable data on soft factors.

What’s missing, we believe, is a focus on the not-so-fashionable aspects of change management: the hard factors. These factors bear three distinct characteristics. First, companies are able to measure them in direct or indirect ways. Second, companies can easily communicate their importance, both within and outside organizations. Third, and perhaps most important, businesses are capable of influencing those elements quickly. Some of the hard factors that affect a transformation initiative are the time necessary to complete it, the number of people required to execute it, and the financial results that intended actions are expected to achieve. Our research shows that change projects fail to get off the ground when companies neglect the hard factors. That doesn’t mean that executives can ignore the soft elements; that would be a grave mistake. However, if companies don’t pay attention to the hard issues first, transformation programs will break down before the soft elements come into play.

That’s a lesson we learned when we identified the common denominators of change. In 1992, we started with the contrarian hypothesis that organizations handle transformations in remarkably similar ways. We researched projects in a number of industries and countries to identify those common elements. Our initial 225-company study revealed a consistent correlation between the outcomes (success or failure) of change programs and four hard factors: project duration, particularly the time between project reviews; performance integrity, or the capabilities of project teams; the commitment of both senior executives and the staff whom the change will affect the most; and the additional effort that employees must make to cope with the change. We called these variables the DICE factors because we could load them in favor of projects’ success.

We completed our study in 1994, and in the 11 years since then, the Boston Consulting Group has used those four factors to predict the outcomes, and guide the execution, of more than 1,000 change management initiatives worldwide. Not only has the correlation held, but no other factors (or combination of factors) have predicted outcomes as well.

The Four Key Factors

If you think about it, the different ways in which organizations combine the four factors create a continuum—from projects that are set up to succeed to those that are set up to fail. At one extreme, a short project led by a skilled, motivated, and cohesive team, championed by top management and implemented in a department that is receptive to the change and has to put in very little additional effort, is bound to succeed. At the other extreme, a long, drawn-out project executed by an inexpert, unenthusiastic, and disjointed team, without any top-level sponsors and targeted at a function that dislikes the change and has to do a lot of extra work, will fail. Businesses can easily identify change programs at either end of the spectrum, but most initiatives occupy the middle ground where the likelihood of success or failure is difficult to assess. Executives must study the four DICE factors carefully to figure out if their change programs will fly—or die.

Duration.

Companies make the mistake of worrying mostly about the time it will take to implement change programs. They assume that the longer an initiative carries on, the more likely it is to fail—the early impetus will peter out, windows of opportunity will close, objectives will be forgotten, key supporters will leave or lose their enthusiasm, and problems will accumulate. However, contrary to popular perception, our studies show that a long project that is reviewed frequently is more likely to succeed than a short project that isn’t reviewed frequently. Thus, the time between reviews is more critical for success than a project’s life span.

Companies should formally review transformation projects at least bimonthly since, in our experience, the probability that change initiatives will run into trouble rises exponentially when the time between reviews exceeds eight weeks. Whether reviews should be scheduled even more frequently depends on how long executives feel the project can carry on without going off track. Complex projects should be reviewed fortnightly; more familiar or straightforward initiatives can be assessed every six to eight weeks.

Scheduling milestones and assessing their impact are the best way by which executives can review the execution of projects, identify gaps, and spot new risks. The most effective milestones are those that describe major actions or achievements rather than day-to-day activities. They must enable senior executives and project sponsors to confirm that the project has made progress since the last review took place. Good milestones encompass a number of tasks that teams must complete. For example, describing a particular milestone as “Consultations with Stakeholders Completed” is more effective than “Consult Stakeholders” because it represents an achievement and shows that the project has made headway. Moreover, it suggests that several activities were completed—identifying stakeholders, assessing their needs, and talking to them about the project. When a milestone looks as though it won’t be reached on time, the project team must try to understand why, take corrective actions, and learn from the experience to prevent problems from recurring.

Review of such a milestone—what we refer to as a “learning milestone”—isn’t an impromptu assessment of the Monday-morning kind. It should be a formal occasion during which senior-management sponsors and the project team evaluate the latter’s performance on all the dimensions that have a bearing on success and failure. The team must provide a concise report of its progress, and members and sponsors must check if the team is on track to complete, or has finished all the tasks to deliver, the milestone. They should also determine whether achieving the milestone has had the desired effect on the company; discuss the problems the team faced in reaching the milestone; and determine how that accomplishment will affect the next phase of the project. Sponsors and team members must have the power to address weaknesses. When necessary, they should alter processes, agree to push for more or different resources, or suggest a new direction. At these meetings, senior executives must pay special attention to the dynamics within teams, changes in the organization’s perceptions about the initiative, and communications from the top.

Integrity.

By performance integrity, we mean the extent to which companies can rely on teams of managers, supervisors, and staff to execute change projects successfully. In a perfect world, every team would be flawless, but no business has enough great people to ensure that. Besides, senior executives are often reluctant to allow star performers to join change efforts because regular work can suffer. But since the success of change programs depends on the quality of teams, companies must free up the best staff while making sure that day-to-day operations don’t falter. In companies that have succeeded in implementing change programs, we find that employees go the extra mile to ensure their day-to-day work gets done.

Since project teams handle a wide range of activities, resources, pressures, external stimuli, and unforeseen obstacles, they must be cohesive and well led. It’s not enough for senior executives to ask people at the watercooler if a project team is doing well; they must clarify members’ roles, commitments, and accountability. They must choose the team leader and, most important, work out the team’s composition.

Smart executive sponsors, we find, are very inclusive when picking teams. They identify talent by soliciting names from key colleagues, including human resource managers; by circulating criteria they have drawn up; and by looking for top performers in all functions. While they accept volunteers, they take care not to choose only supporters of the change initiative. Senior executives personally interview people so that they can construct the right portfolio of skills, knowledge, and social networks. They also decide if potential team members should commit all their time to the project; if not, they must ask them to allocate specific days or times of the day to the initiative. Top management makes public the parameters on which it will judge the team’s performance and how that evaluation fits into the company’s regular appraisal process. Once the project gets under way, sponsors must measure the cohesion of teams by administering confidential surveys to solicit members’ opinions.

Executives often make the mistake of assuming that because someone is a good, well-liked manager, he or she will also make a decent team leader. That sounds reasonable, but effective managers of the status quo aren’t necessarily good at changing organizations. Usually, good team leaders have problem-solving skills, are results oriented, are methodical in their approach but tolerate ambiguity, are organizationally savvy, are willing to accept responsibility for decisions, and while being highly motivated, don’t crave the limelight. A CEO who successfully led two major transformation projects in the past ten years used these six criteria to quiz senior executives about the caliber of nominees for project teams. The top management team rejected one in three candidates, on average, before finalizing the teams.

Commitment.

Companies must boost the commitment of two different groups of people if they want change projects to take root: They must get visible backing from the most influential executives (what we call C1), who are not necessarily those with the top titles. And they must take into account the enthusiasm—or often, lack thereof—of the people who must deal with the new systems, processes, or ways of working (C2).

Top-level commitment is vital to engendering commitment from those at the coal face. If employees don’t see that the company’s leadership is backing a project, they’re unlikely to change. No amount of top-level support is too much. In 1999, when we were working with the CEO of a consumer products company, he told us that he was doing much more than necessary to display his support for a nettlesome project. When we talked to line managers, they said that the CEO had extended very little backing for the project. They felt that if he wanted the project to succeed, he would have to support it more visibly! A rule of thumb: When you feel that you are talking up a change initiative at least three times more than you need to, your managers will feel that you are backing the transformation.

Sometimes, senior executives are reluctant to back initiatives. That’s understandable; they’re often bringing about changes that may negatively affect employees’ jobs and lives. However, if senior executives do not communicate the need for change, and what it means for employees, they endanger their projects’ success. In one financial services firm, top management’s commitment to a program that would improve cycle times, reduce errors, and slash costs was low because it entailed layoffs. Senior executives found it gut-wrenching to talk about layoffs in an organization that had prided itself on being a place where good people could find lifetime employment. However, the CEO realized that he needed to tackle the thorny issues around the layoffs to get the project implemented on schedule. He tapped a senior company veteran to organize a series of speeches and meetings in order to provide consistent explanations for the layoffs, the timing, the consequences for job security, and so on. He also appointed a well-respected general manager to lead the change program. Those actions reassured employees that the organization would tackle the layoffs in a professional and humane fashion.

Companies often underestimate the role that managers and staff play in transformation efforts. By communicating with them too late or inconsistently, senior executives end up alienating the people who are most affected by the changes. It’s surprising how often something senior executives believe is a good thing is seen by staff as a bad thing, or a message that senior executives think is perfectly clear is misunderstood. That usually happens when senior executives articulate subtly different versions of critical messages. For instance, in one company that applied the DICE framework, scores for a project showed a low degree of staff commitment. It turned out that these employees had become confused, even distrustful, because one senior manager had said, “Layoffs will not occur,” while another had said, “They are not expected to occur.”

Organizations also underestimate their ability to build staff support. A simple effort to reach out to employees can turn them into champions of new ideas. For example, in the 1990s, a major American energy producer was unable to get the support of mid-level managers, supervisors, and workers for a productivity improvement program. After trying several times, the company’s senior executives decided to hold a series of one-on-one conversations with mid-level managers in a last-ditch effort to win them over. The conversations focused on the program’s objectives, its impact on employees, and why the organization might not be able to survive without the changes. Partly because of the straight talk, the initiative gained some momentum. This allowed a project team to demonstrate a series of quick wins, which gave the initiative a new lease on life.

Effort.

When companies launch transformation efforts, they frequently don’t realize, or know how to deal with the fact, that employees are already busy with their day-to-day responsibilities. According to staffing tables, people in many businesses work 80-plus-hour weeks. If, on top of existing responsibilities, line managers and staff have to deal with changes to their work or to the systems they use, they will resist.

Project teams must calculate how much work employees will have to do beyond their existing responsibilities to change over to new processes. Ideally, no one’s workload should increase more than 10%. Go beyond that, and the initiative will probably run into trouble. Resources will become overstretched and compromise either the change program or normal operations. Employee morale will fall, and conflict may arise between teams and line staff. To minimize the dangers, project managers should use a simple metric like the percentage increase in effort the employees who must cope with the new ways feel they must contribute. They should also check if the additional effort they have demanded comes on top of heavy workloads and if employees are likely to resist the project because it will demand more of their scarce time.

Companies must decide whether to take away some of the regular work of employees who will play key roles in the transformation project. Companies can start by ridding these employees of discretionary or nonessential responsibilities. In addition, firms should review all the other projects in the operating plan and assess which ones are critical for the change effort. At one company, the project steering committee delayed or restructured 120 out of 250 subprojects so that some line managers could focus on top-priority projects. Another way to relieve pressure is for the company to bring in temporary workers, like retired managers, to carry out routine activities or to outsource current processes until the changeover is complete. Handing off routine work or delaying projects is costly and time-consuming, so companies need to think through such issues before kicking off transformation efforts.

Creating the Framework

As we came to understand the four factors better, we created a framework that would help executives evaluate their transformation initiatives and shine a spotlight on interventions that would improve their chances of success. We developed a scoring system based on the variables that affect each factor. Executives can assign scores to the DICE factors and combine them to arrive at a project score. (See the sidebar “Calculating DICE Scores.”)

Although the assessments are subjective, the system gives companies an objective framework for making those decisions. Moreover, the scoring mechanism ensures that executives are evaluating projects and making trade-offs more consistently across projects.

A company can compare its DICE score on the day it kicks off a project with the scores of previous projects, as well as their outcomes, to check if the initiative has been set up for success. When we calculated the scores of the 225 change projects in our database and compared them with the outcomes, the analysis was compelling. Projects clearly fell into three categories, or zones: Win, which means that any project with a score in that range is statistically likely to succeed; worry, which suggests that the project’s outcome is hard to predict; and woe, which implies that the project is totally unpredictable or fated for mediocrity or failure. (See the exhibit “DICE Scores Predict Project Outcomes.”)

Companies can track how change projects are faring by calculating scores over time or before and after they have made changes to a project’s structure. The four factors offer a litmus test that executives can use to assess the probability of success for a given project or set of projects. Consider the case of a large Australian bank that in 1994 wanted to restructure its back-office operations. Senior executives agreed on the rationale for the change but differed on whether the bank could achieve its objectives, since the transformation required major changes in processes and organizational structures. Bringing the team and the senior executives together long enough to sort out their differences proved impossible; people were just too busy. That’s when the project team decided to analyze the initiative using the DICE framework.

Doing so condensed what could have been a free-flowing two-day debate into a sharp two-hour discussion. The focus on just four elements generated a clear picture of the project’s strengths and weaknesses. For instance, managers learned that the restructuring would take eight months to implement but that it had poorly defined milestones and reviews. Although the project team was capable and senior management showed reasonable commitment to the effort, there was room for improvement in both areas. The back-office workforce was hostile to the proposed changes since more than 20% of these people would lose their jobs. Managers and employees agreed that the back-office staff would need to muster 10% to 20% more effort on top of its existing commitments during the implementation. On the DICE scale, the project was deep in the Woe Zone.

However, the assessment also led managers to take steps to increase the possibility of success before they started the project. The bank decided to split the project time line into two—one short-term and one long-term. Doing so allowed the bank to schedule review points more frequently and to maximize team members’ ability to learn from experience before the transformation grew in complexity. To improve staff commitment, the bank decided to devote more time to explaining why the change was necessary and how the institution would support the staff during the implementation. The bank also took a closer look at the people who would be involved in the project and changed some of the team leaders when it realized that they lacked the necessary skills. Finally, senior managers made a concerted effort to show their backing for the initiative by holding a traveling road show to explain the project to people at all levels of the organization. Taken together, the bank’s actions and plans shifted the project into the Win Zone. Fourteen months later, the bank completed the project—on time and below budget.

Applying the DICE Framework

The simplicity of the DICE framework often proves to be its biggest problem; executives seem to desire more complex answers. By overlooking the obvious, however, they often end up making compromises that don’t work. Smart companies try to ensure that they don’t fall into that trap by using the DICE framework in one of three ways.

The simplicity of the DICE framework often proves to be its biggest problem; executives seem to desire more complex answers. By overlooking the obvious, however, they often end up making compromises that don’t work.

Track Projects.

Some companies train managers in how to use the DICE framework before they start transformation programs. Executives use spreadsheet-based versions of the tool to calculate the DICE scores of the various components of the program and to compare them with past scores. Over time, every score must be balanced against the trajectory of scores and, as we shall see next, the portfolio of scores.

Senior executives often use DICE assessments as early warning indicators that transformation initiatives are in trouble. That’s how Amgen, the $10.6 billion biotechnology company, used the DICE framework. In 2001, the company realigned its operations around some key processes, broadened its offerings, relaunched some mature products, allied with some firms and acquired others, and launched several innovations. To avoid implementation problems, Amgen’s top management team used the DICE framework to gauge how effectively it had allocated people, senior management time, and other resources. As soon as projects reported troubling scores, designated executives paid attention to them. They reviewed the projects more often, reconfigured the teams, and allocated more resources to them. In one area of the change project, Amgen used DICE to track 300 initiatives and reconfigured 200 of them.

Both big and small organizations can put the tool to good use. Take the case of a hospital that kicked off six change projects in the late 1990s. Each initiative involved a lot of investment, had significant clinical implications, or both. The hospital’s general manager felt that some projects were going well but was concerned about others. He wasn’t able to attribute his concerns to anything other than a bad feeling. However, when the general manager used the DICE framework, he was able to confirm his suspicions. After a 45-minute discussion with project managers and other key people, he established that three projects were in the Win Zone but two were in the Woe Zone and one was in the Worry Zone.

The strongest projects, the general manager found, consumed more than their fair share of resources. Senior hospital staff sensed that those projects would succeed and spent more time promoting them, attending meetings about them, and making sure they had sufficient resources. By contrast, no one enjoyed attending meetings on projects that were performing poorly. So the general manager stopped attending meetings for the projects that were on track; he attended only sessions that related to the three underperforming ones. He pulled some managers from the projects that were progressing smoothly and moved them to the riskier efforts. He added more milestones to the struggling enterprises, delayed their completion, and pushed hard for improvement. Those steps helped ensure that all six projects met their objectives.

Manage portfolios of projects.

When companies launch large transformation programs, they kick off many projects to attain their objectives. But if executives don’t manage the portfolio properly, those tasks end up competing for attention and resources. For instance, senior executives may choose the best employees for projects they have sponsored or lavish attention on pet projects rather than on those that need attention. By deploying our framework before they start transformation initiatives, companies can identify problem projects in portfolios, focus execution expertise and senior management attention where it is most needed, and defuse political issues.

Take, for example, the case of an Australasian manufacturing company that had planned a set of 40 projects as part of a program to improve profitability. Since some had greater financial implications than others, the company’s general manager called for a meeting with all the project owners and senior managers. The group went through each project, debating its DICE score and identifying the problem areas. After listing all the scores and issues, the general manager walked to a whiteboard and circled the five most important projects. “I’m prepared to accept that some projects will start off in the Worry Zone, though I won’t accept anything outside the middle of this zone for more than a few weeks. For the top five, we’re not going to start until these are well within the Win Zone. What do we have to do to achieve that?” he asked.

The general manager walked to a whiteboard and circled the five most important projects. “We’re not going to start until these are well within the Win Zone. What do we have to do to achieve that?”

The group began thinking and acting right away. It moved people around on teams, reconfigured some projects, and identified those that senior managers should pay more attention to—all of which helped raise DICE scores before implementation began. The most important projects were set up for resounding success while most of the remaining ones managed to get into the Win Zone. The group left some projects in the Worry Zone, but it agreed to track them closely to ensure that their scores improved. In our experience, that’s the right thing to do. When companies are trying to overhaul themselves, they shouldn’t have all their projects in the Win Zone; if they do, they are not ambitious enough. Transformations should entail fundamental changes that stretch an organization.

Force conversation.

When different executives calculate DICE scores for the same project, the results can vary widely. The difference in scores is particularly important in terms of the dialogue it triggers. It provokes participants and engages them in debate over questions like “Why do we see the project in these different ways?” and “What can we agree to do to ensure that the project will succeed?” That’s critical, because even people within the same organization lack a common framework for discussing problems with change initiatives. Prejudices, differences in perspectives, and a reluctance or inability to speak up can block effective debates. By using the DICE framework, companies can create a common language and force the right discussions.

Sometimes, companies hold workshops to review floundering projects. At those two- to four-hour sessions, groups of eight to 15 senior and middle managers, along with the project team and the project sponsors, hold a candid dialogue. The debate usually moves beyond the project’s scores to the underlying causes of problems and possible remedies. The workshops bring diverse opinions to light, which often can be combined into innovative solutions. Consider, for example, the manner in which DICE workshops helped a telecommunications service provider that had planned a major transformation effort. Consisting of five strategic initiatives and 50 subprojects that needed to be up and running quickly, the program confronted some serious obstacles. The projects’ goals, time lines, and revenue objectives were unclear. There were delays in approving business cases, a dearth of rigor and focus in planning and identifying milestones, and a shortage of resources. There were leadership issues, too. For example, executive-level shortcomings had resulted in poor coordination of projects and a misjudgment of risks.

To put the transformation program on track, the telecom company incorporated DICE into project managers’ tool kits. The Project Management Office arranged a series of workshops to analyze issues and decide future steps. One workshop, for example, was devoted to three new product development projects, two of which had landed in the Woe Zone and one in the Worry Zone. Participants traced the problems to tension between managers and technology experts, underfunding, lack of manpower, and poor definition of the projects’ scopes. They eventually agreed on three remedial actions: holding a conflict-resolution meeting between the directors in charge of technology and those responsible for the core business; making sure senior leadership paid immediate attention to the resource issues; and bringing together the project team and the line-of-business head to formalize project objectives. With the project sponsor committed to those actions, the three projects had improved their DICE scores and thus their chances of success at the time this article went to press.

Conversations about DICE scores are particularly useful for large-scale transformations that cut across business units, functions, and locations. In such change efforts, it is critical to find the right balance between centralized oversight, which ensures that everyone in the organization takes the effort seriously and understands the goals, and the autonomy that various initiatives need. Teams must have the flexibility and incentive to produce customized solutions for their markets, functions, and competitive environments. The balance is difficult to achieve without an explicit consideration of the DICE variables.

Conversations about DICE scores are particularly useful for large-scale transformations that cut across business units, functions, and locations.

Take the case of a leading global beverage company that needed to increase operational efficiency and focus on the most promising brands and markets. The company also sought to make key processes such as consumer demand development and customer fulfillment more innovative. The CEO’s goals were ambitious and required investing significant resources across the company. Top management faced enormous challenges in structuring the effort and in spawning projects that focused on the right issues. Executives knew that this was a multiyear effort, yet without tight schedules and oversight of individual projects, there was a risk that projects would take far too long to be completed and the results would taper off.

To mitigate the risks, senior managers decided to analyze each project at several levels of the organization. Using the DICE framework, they reviewed each effort every month until they felt confident that it was on track. After that, reviews occurred when projects met major milestones. No more than two months elapsed between reviews, even in the later stages of the program. The time between reviews at the project-team level was even shorter: Team leaders reviewed progress biweekly throughout the transformation. Some of the best people joined the effort full time. The human resources department took an active role in recruiting team members, thereby creating a virtuous cycle in which the best people began to seek involvement in various initiatives. During the course of the transformation, the company promoted several team members to line- and functional leadership positions because of their performance.

The company’s change program resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of value creation. Its once-stagnant brands began to grow, it cracked open new markets such as China, and sales and promotion activities were aligned with the fastest-growing channels. There were many moments during the process when inertia in the organization threatened to derail the change efforts. However, senior management’s belief in focusing on the four key variables helped move the company to a higher trajectory of performance.• • •

By providing a common language for change, the DICE framework allows companies to tap into the insight and experience of their employees. A great deal has been said about middle managers who want to block change. We find that most middle managers are prepared to support change efforts even if doing so involves additional work and uncertainty and puts their jobs at risk. However, they resist change because they don’t have sufficient input in shaping those initiatives. Too often, they lack the tools, the language, and the forums in which to express legitimate concerns about the design and implementation of change projects. That’s where a standard, quantitative, and simple framework comes in. By enabling frank conversations at all levels within organizations, the DICE framework helps people do the right thing by change.

Full article with thanks to https://hbr.org/2005/10/the-hard-side-of-change-management

An Agile Approach to Change Management

Full article with thanks to https://hbr.org/2021/01/an-agile-approach-to-change-management

The business world has arguably seen more disruption in the last nine months than in the last nine years, bringing new and urgent demand for change. Initiatives are being launched by the dozen, adoption can’t happen fast enough, and the stakes are higher than ever. In the midst of a Covid-induced recession, and with some industries on the brink of extinction, change isn’t about fine-tuning — it’s existential.

But traditional change management — often characterized by heavy process, lengthy timelines, and clunky rollouts — won’t cut it right now. As organizations fundamentally rethink their product and service portfolios, reinvent their supply chains, pursue large-scale organizational restructuring, determine on the fly how to operate in a virtual world and rebuild to correct systemic racism from the ground up, the type of change management required in this moment is quick, agile, and (in many cases) virtual.

In the article that follows, I borrow principles from agile software development processes and draw on Korn Ferry’s experience helping clients navigate change in recent months to reinvent the change management playbook. When facing crisis-driven change, consider these modifications to accelerate and streamline your process:

Declare your change vision.

The first step in well-known change management models is often to “create a sense of urgency.” It’s safe to say that 2020 did that for us. Depending on the change you are pursuing, you may be able to skip straight to declaring a change vision that outlines a compelling vision of your future state, including the principles and values that will guide your response and provides specific actions you’ll take. While details are preferable in these types of statements, companies should be confident they can deliver on any stated commitments in the change vision.

Moving quickly will mean that not everyone will be able to weigh in, and your change vision won’t be perfect. But it will make clear where you stand, put an end to any speculation and buy you time (though not much) to develop a plan. Companies without a clear vision will spend too much time fielding stakeholder inquiries instead of tending to the necessary changes.

Empower the people who are best positioned to drive change from the beginning. 

In times of crisis, senior leaders are almost always preoccupied with crisis management. CEOs can accelerate the change process by empowering a group of trusted experts deeper in the organization who can be redeployed full-time against the challenge at hand.

Companies should also look to build an external network of advisors who can quickly be tapped to weigh in on business threats where in-house expertise doesn’t exist. Having these individuals at the ready will reduce your response time and lend credibility to the plans that are created. Your group of experts should include a change management advisor.

To eliminate friction and delays, the group of internal and external experts will also need to quickly align on guiding principles and open a physical or virtual “war room” to drive collaboration.

Encourage self-organizing teams to supplement your efforts.

When time is of the essence, these teams can help tackle challenges and opportunities as they see them, including those that aren’t visible to leadership but are critical to supporting the change agenda.

For example, one such group emerged at IBM as employees transitioned to working from home earlier this year. They took it upon themselves to establish guiding principles to help make work and life easier for themselves and their colleagues, collaborating with business and HR leaders to evolve their efforts into a company-wide pledge. Within a matter of days, thousands of employees posted their individual pledges to an internal social media channel and CEO Arvind Krishna shared his publicly on LinkedIn. This grassroots effort likely did more to accelerate the company’s transition to productive remote work, and on a faster timeline, than any corporate-led initiative could have.

Similarly, many race-based employee resources groups self-organized following George Floyd’s murder to launch grassroots efforts — from hosting “difficult conversations” to lobbying for Juneteenth to be formally recognized with a day off — that complemented top-down diversity and inclusion activities.

Use internal social channels and influencers to drive employee awareness and engagement.

For organizations operating virtually, internal social media and collaboration platforms are likely the fastest and most effective way to drive understanding of your change efforts and recruit the cadre of people who will champion the transformation.

If your CEO or other leaders are not active on these platforms, help them get up and running. One CEO that came under attack for non-inclusive practices following the racial justice protests recently began posting weekly Slack updates on his organization’s transformation efforts. This more informal channel created greater authenticity, enabled two-way dialogue and made it possible for the CEO to assess employee sentiment as the change efforts unfolded.

Employee influencers should be tapped to initiate online conversation around change efforts too, leveraging positive peer pressure to bring colleagues on board and creating a sense of virtual community around the initiative.

Embrace a “test-and-learn” approach.

Recent events have confirmed what many change leaders already knew — though your change vision is critical to driving alignment and buy-in, that picture will seldom stay the same from the start of a change project to its finish.

Even projects on short timelines, like the ones many companies undertook to roll out collaboration technologies in the spring, will need to respond to ongoing volatility internally and externally.

Against this reality, change managers will need to:

  • Establish ongoing listening mechanisms that allow them to keep a pulse on employee and stakeholder sentiment.
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in the process, and modify change initiatives, or even the change vision itself, to ensure the work continues to be relevant and will deliver value.
  • Lean more into the art of change management than the science, making determinations in the moment about which steps and tools are needed and which aren’t likely to add value that surpasses the lost value of delays.
  • Adopt agile practices, such as daily stand-ups, that enable continuous coordination and evaluation of new variables as they surface.
  • Use “fast-turn” and informal communications channels to update employees on strategy and what is needed from them.
  • Leverage “sprints” that result in minimally viable change management resources that can be tested and evolved for continued relevance.

The fact that many companies are bringing employees back to work in phases allows for the agile iteration and continuous learning. They should take advantage by piloting change tools and processes on early returners and improving them with each subsequent wave.

Shift from long-term to short-term accountability.

The virtues of the shift from annual performance reviews to frequent check-ins should be apparent to leaders looking to drive rapid behavior change. More frequent feedback enables real-time coaching and allows managers to place the emphasis on what is most needed from the employee in that moment. Managers should focus on behaviors that will be critical for the future of work and will support change objectives, such as working successfully on a hybrid team, supporting coworker inclusion, practicing compassion and empathy and, yes, becoming more agile.

Reward programs can also help drive swift behavior change. Retailers instituted hazard and overtime pay to support their change efforts at the onset of Covid-19, and many of their employees rose to the occasion, taking on tough assignments to keep the business humming. Non-financial rewards play an even larger role in more challenging economic times. Korn Ferry research indicates that these non-financial rewards (e.g., meaningful work, career development, training, recognition) are more instrumental in talent engagement and retention than base pay and variable pay programs.

While anyone who tells you there is a way to achieve change management objectives overnight would be lying, there are ways to accelerate change in an increasingly fast-paced and uncertain world. Indeed, many of the world’s most admired companies have figured it out. According to Korn Ferry research, they are more likely than their peers to anticipate change, to consistently capture the next opportunity, to quickly fill people capability gaps and to quickly deploy teams to solve the challenge at hand.

Formal adoption of agile may or may not be right for your organization but now is the time to consider how to make change management work faster and harder. If we know anything for certain in this moment, it’s that more change is coming.

Full article with thanks to https://hbr.org/2021/01/an-agile-approach-to-change-management

The road to successful change is lined with trade-offs

Full article with thanks to https://www.strategy-business.com/article/The-road-to-successful-change-is-lined-with-trade-offs?gko=99979

Rather than trying to convince people your change initiative is the right one, invite them to talk openly about what it might take to implement it: the good, the bad, and the frustrating.

At one Fortune 500 insurance company, the IT team had noticed an uptick in quality issues, delays, and dissatisfaction among project sponsors. In response to these unsettling trends, the chief information officer (CIO) decided to adopt a standard software development methodology and replicable project management practices. The intended benefits of this shift — higher quality and reliability — were attractive, but the trade-offs were daunting. Because they would no longer have the license to customize process and standards, project managers would need to give up independence and creativity. Coders would have to make similar sacrifices, as well as face increased oversight through peer reviews.

To address these concerns, the CIO asked a cross-functional group to consider two questions: If the division adopted the new framework, what would the organization gain? And equally important, what would it lose? Participants were invited to weigh the proposed change for themselves and to consider it from every angle — including the reasons the initiative might not work. They brainstormed solutions to potential project roadblocks. These discussions helped build support and diminish the likelihood that people would retrench when challenged by the inevitable costs, frustrations, and hard work of change. In the end, the new methodology and practices were adopted in half the time recommended to achieve the goal, embedded in the company’s culture, and recognized for their contributions to customer satisfaction and project quality.

These were not your typical “socializing” conversations, intended to make people feel included in decisions that have already been made. Instead, these dialogues reflected a departure from many of the current norms for change management. Traditionally, leaders have started with the belief that the change they have launched is patently right. Its merits are not in question, they believe; at most, it might need minor tweaks. With this stance, the work of change becomes convincing people and overcoming their resistance, and all too often, box-checking exercises take the place of frank discussion.

Yet we have found that the most enduring change initiatives — those that drive real results — are based on leaders’ assumption that they are seeing only part of the picture and thus need to learn more. These leaders ask hard questions and engage in trade-offs as early as possible, talking with those who raise concerns not to gain their compliance, but to improve, refine, and pressure test the proposed change.

No easy answers

We are living in a historic moment, one in which trade-offs are central to many of our discussions: Leaders in the public and private sector are weighing the potential costs (economic, medical, and psychological) of opening institutions while COVID-19 is still spreading against the potential costs of staying closed. For many of the hard questions these leaders are asking, there are no good answers. But decisions still need to be made.

When leaders launch an initiative, their ability to achieve “both/and” is not yet proven. By both/and, we mean identifying a solution that moves beyond the historical limits of an either/or trade-off, an idea advanced by the polarity management methodology of management thinker and author Barry Johnson. For instance, companies used to choose either slow, costly, data-driven decisions or fast, intuitive judgment calls. But the use of advanced analytics now allows companies to make real-time decisions that are data-driven.

Yet when leaders assume their answer is the answer, they tend to approach change as they would a political campaign — heavy on slogans and focused on numerical targets akin to contributions and votes. The process can feel forced; people are engaged solely to be converted to the leader’s “side,” rather than to participate in a dialogue about the potential implications of the plan. Leaders speak, but don’t listen. Or they assume that a lack of feedback reflects agreement and acceptance among their constituents.

Success under this approach is typically measured by increases in compliance (“40 percent of staff have logged on to the new ERP system”) and decreases in resistance (“the number of employees indicating the new ERP system will help make their work more effective has increased by 30 percent since last quarter”). Leaders reward those who quickly conform, not realizing that these conversions often represent superficial commitments, not true allegiance or even an accurate understanding of the new way. And because hard questions are minimized, teams may comply with a change that won’t work once it gets underway.

For employees, the pressure to change without truly understanding or committing to the initiative is an unfortunate fact of organizational life. People become used to the expectation that they will limit independent thinking and suspend disbelief, regardless of the lessons of their prior experience. If employees have a few questions, that is usually acceptable, but more can invite censure or ridicule, or, in the worst cases, can be career damaging, even if such questions represent legitimate critiques or sound ideas for improvement.

Consider the case of a leader of an accounting services business who created a consolidated national office to replace a collection of smaller state units. Although the new structure would save on overhead, the company’s services were heavily influenced by state regulations. Employees with the expertise needed to work in their state office could now be assigned to a case anywhere in the country. Many would lack the knowledge needed to do their job effectively — a concern immediately raised by employees when the plan was announced. But the leader was dismissive, instead telling people to stop “harping on the negative.” Those who raised the issue again could tell they were at risk of being branded as resisters. One even remarked that “it was like a cult”; she felt forced to conform or face social and professional isolation.

In the end, the new national structure struggled to deliver for customers in states where employees were not well-versed in local regulations, in ways the resisters had predicted and hoped to avoid. Imagine if the leader had asked, “How might we consolidate into a national structure, but still ensure customers benefit from the regulatory knowledge each of you has developed over time?” Instead of resisting, his team would have been brainstorming how to make the idea work. And instead of failing to meet expectations, they could have been delivering excellent service at scale.

Avoid the temptation to rush in

Leaders should borrow an important concept from the project management world: Go slow to go fast. There is often a rush to dive in at the beginning of a project, to start getting things done quickly and to feel a sense of accomplishment. This desire backfires when stakeholders are overlooked, plans are not validated, and critical conversations are ignored. Instead, project managers are advised to go slow — to do the work needed up front to develop momentum and gain speed later in the project.

The same idea helps reframe notions about how to lead organizational change successfully. Instead of doing the conceptual work quickly and alone, leaders must slow down the initial planning stages, resist the temptation and endorphin rush of being a “heroic” leader solving the problem, and engage people in frank conversations about the trade-offs involved in change. This does not have to take long — even just a few days or weeks. The key is to build the capacity to think together and to get underlying assumptions out in the open.

Leaders must do more than just get the conversation started. They also need to keep it going, often in the face of significant challenges. For example, one of the authors once worked with a division of a Fortune 50 high-tech firm that was going through a period of turbulence. During one nine-month period, the unit was reorganized six times, and each time, another internal technical function was added to the group. The problem was that no one could explain the logic of all the additions. The division began calling itself the “Island of Misfit Toys” — where all the odd, hard-to-place functions were collected.

After first trying the political campaign approach with her team — doing presentations about the burning platform and targeting those who needed to have their concerns assuaged — and getting nowhere, the unit’s leader decided to change course. Over a team dinner one evening, she asked point-blank whether they should give up on making sense of the mergers. The question stunned her colleagues, but also ultimately united them. As they went around the table, they committed to finding a shared purpose, and they were also able to discern a common thread behind the mergers. Each of the added groups had a similar competence they had brought to a range of projects, a similarity that hadn’t been obvious before. The team refocused on that competence, then began seeking new teams to merge into their function.

The leader started the conversation with a challenging question, and this is critical. The questions need to be a little risky, and the context needs to invite people to talk safely about difficult issues. Change champions need to draw out others’ opinions about the reasons their hunch won’t work as a starting point for problem-solving and design. By treating the potential downsides and limitations of an idea as legitimate, rational concerns, people can work together to design solutions that both achieve intended goals and preserve what the organization wishes to safeguard while building commitment to implementation. Leaders may ask, for example: Is this a distraction or something that can truly make a difference? What will we have to do to make this work? What might be the unintended consequences if we succeed?

Engage with the “other side”

So-called resisters have a point. Opposing views often have clear, important messages that leaders would do well to heed. The people who hold these views may be the ones who most vividly see the potential losses or risks associated with the initiative.

Organizational change expert Rick Maurer explains, “There [aren’t] ‘resisters’ out there just waiting to ruin our otherwise perfect intervention. People resist in response to something. The people resisting probably don’t see it as resistance; they see it as survival.” Critical voices are important and ultimately essential in breaking through superficiality and developing the thinking needed to wrestle with trade-offs successfully. Many times, in side conversations, people have told us stories about speaking up out of a sense of accountability, realism, or integrity.

When change leaders gloss over unintended consequences and contradictory perspectives, they lose the opportunity to capitalize on the tension between views that can lead to unexpected and valuable insights. They sacrifice the chance to achieve real commitment from the people whose job it will be to implement the change.

Methods such as skillful dialogue encourage groups to slow down conversations and truly listen. The Lewis Deep Democracy approach takes it further. Developed in South Africa to help corporations recover from the effects of apartheid, dismantle embedded racist systems, and model the new, democratic nation, Deep Democracy works with what can be called a strict, no-interrupting, one-side-at-a-time policy.

This technique helped one behavioral health organization decide how to change its approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). A choice had emerged among the senior team. They could make diversity a top-level priority or they could embed it into everyone’s day-to-day work. Both approaches addressed the underlying imperative to improve, but each also came with trade-offs and potential drawbacks.

Rather than alternating arguments, the team dove into each side in depth. Some members of the senior team believed that DEI should be part of the strategic agenda. The discussion started with supporters articulating their perspective that the organization’s commitment to diversity should be shared with the world as a top-level priority, in order to signal the seriousness of the issue. They expressed a fear that if diversity wasn’t prioritized in this way, it would eventually be neglected or pushed aside by other priorities. All participants were encouraged to discover what parts of this position rang true for them, even if they initially held another perspective. This is a central tenet of the method: It is often possible to find something that the opposing side can empathize with, and slowly the confrontational stance begins to soften.

The next step was to hear from the other side. These members of the senior team turned the group’s attention to the reasons that DEI should be embedded into everything the organization did, so that it became every person’s responsibility. This group shared stories of other companies in which diversity became a public relations gimmick that was ignored by staff and rolled out only when expedient. A similar process was followed as the whole group explored that position.

When participating in this method, people begin to experience fluidity in their stance. This fluidity is also the core of Johnson’s polarity management method: By engaging multiple perspectives and asking questions, people start to recognize both the benefits and the risks of their preferred side of either/or and tap into the creativity needed to craft an effective both/and solution.

The company in our example found that using the Deep Democracy approach allowed them to come to an agreement and develop plans that avoided the pitfalls feared by the other side. The solution was elegant. The company embedded DEI into the fabric of the organization, but did so by writing it specifically into the scope of each high-level strategic priority. For example, leaders responsible for financial health, customer experience, technological innovation, and so on were expected to explore the DEI implications of their work. No strategy would be considered successful unless it demonstrated how these issues had been woven into the work.

The leader’s task is to create an environment in which different perspectives can be fully explored consciously and collectively. The conversation should not take the tone of a debate or competition. Instead, people “think together,” exploring best- and worst-case scenarios, grappling with challenges, and imagining how their innovation could ensure success.

Model vulnerability and lack of omniscience

Initially, people may struggle to open up; after all, most have experienced situations in which they were permitted to ask only a few questions or in which follow-up questions were perceived as disruptive. To overcome the negative effects of people’s past experiences, leaders must model openness, clearly invite people to speak candidly, welcome questions and critiques, and listen with a willingness to be influenced.

One global leader of an agricultural company crossed six continents to visit almost every outpost in her division and to listen to staff express their hesitations about adopting a more interconnected approach among the regional offices. At each location, her message was clear: We need to become more connected and collaborative. But her approach was humble. “Would you tell me,” she asked, “how things work here? What worries you about becoming more interconnected? What do you fear you might have to give up?” Her questions and her clear commitment to listening to her staff instilled trust and confidence.

Her employees shared their concerns. They feared that if the regions were more connected, they would have to comply with what headquarters told them, even when they knew it was wrong for their local market. As things stood at the time, these workers often superficially agreed to headquarters’ mandates and then did as they wished, knowing they could fly under the radar. In theory, the proposed organizational change would free staff from being beholden to a strict hierarchy. In practice, they admitted, becoming more interconnected would limit their autonomy.

It would have been easy for the agricultural leader to present strong, rational arguments to prove to the regional staff that their perspectives were wrong. Instead, she did something radical that increased trust dramatically. She affirmed their concerns. She agreed with their belief that there would be losses. She asked the group to delve into their worries, explore them, question what responsibilities and freedoms they hoped to maintain, and then strategize how to protect those boundaries. The method was successful: After a year, a network map revealed a greater level of communication and coordination among regions, and a retrospective showed the organization had responded more quickly and with more coherence to several important global challenges.

When leaders take actions like these, they create change by inviting people to think for themselves and to find their own answers to tough questions. These leaders are willing to be influenced and acknowledge that there are elements of the change that still need to be figured out. This strategy, rather than requiring the leader to balance and address everyone’s concerns, allows people to share the responsibility for change by publicly wrestling with the trade-offs, collectively coming to a resolution, and then committing to the plan’s execution.

Engage both peers and top leaders

In our experience in working with organizational change leaders, it is often executives at the next level up or peers in other functions who undo promising new initiatives. The idea may sound good at first, and, amid the flurry of competing priorities, these people may not examine the new idea too closely. Then, as the organization begins to experience the costs and hard work of change, support wanes.

Peers in other functions may be most concerned about trade-offs that affect them. Will marketing bear the cost of new purchasing guidelines? Will customer service suffer from reduced product functionality? Eventually, these other functional leaders may decide that the costs outweigh the benefits and will roll back the work that has been done. Or they may unwittingly dismantle a larger effort by overriding key components of it — sometimes because they lack a shared understanding of the context.

For example, amid rising demand, one factory was tasked with drastically improving output and reducing defects. The team of frontline employees and supervisors assigned to develop a solution found that performing more frequent machine maintenance and building new jigs to speed up changeovers between production runs were the keys to achieving higher productivity and quality while lowering overall costs.

Unfortunately, shortly after the new system was up and running, the team’s peers in accounting approached the division leader with concerns that maintenance costs were above historical levels. Those added costs were more than covered by the benefits to output and quality, but because the factory team had not engaged the senior executive to explain their plan and prepare him for the increased cost, the leader responded to it as an isolated issue and ordered the team to bring their maintenance costs back in line. They complied, but forfeited the gains they had made.

To prevent a positive change from being overridden in this way, it is wise to connect with a wide range of people when discussing the potential costs and trade-offs in a project. Change almost always occurs in a complex ecosystem with many cause-and-effect relationships; no one has the full picture, and investments made in one area may pay off in another. Senior leaders generally have a more global view of the situation and the factors driving change. Frontline folks tend to have a richer sense of the particulars. When leaders engage with hard questions and listen to different perspectives, they enable everyone to see more of the ecosystem they are trying to influence.

To help with this approach, leaders can run scenarios: What if X happens? How will we handle Y? Is it worth giving up A to get B? Through those conversations, executives and peers have space to express their concerns and hesitations, assess whether the effort is truly worth its costs, and prepare for strategic investments that might otherwise have raised red flags. This shared understanding helps them avoid unintended consequences, generates greater alignment and commitment, and provides the context needed for individuals to make effective judgment calls as conditions evolve.

The trade-offs of engaging trade-offs

Even as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that other critical issues — climate change, racial injustice, political instability, income inequality — will challenge organizations in the future, forcing them to continuously adapt. In this context, the change management tools designed for more stable, predictable environments will not work. When it’s unclear what will happen next month, leaders cannot “manage by objectives” or create three-year plans.

Despite this fast pace of change, leaders should not default to an aggressive timeline and succumb to short-term pressure to roll out change initiatives and push them through to the finish. Instead, the approach we propose will force people to go slower than they are accustomed to at the start. It requires the involvement of people who have been labeled as troublemakers, resisters, or annoyances. It challenges leaders’ ideas about the need for change being self-evident and indisputable. And it invites leaders to be vulnerable — something many executives shy away from in favor of being perceived as powerful.

When they take this approach, leaders are able to identify and invest in the highest-value areas that are ripe for reinvention, then invite others to participate in the design. Employees in this scenario are not just implementers but rather innovators, figuring out ways to break through historical limits and difficult realities. This all may seem daunting, but it’s well worth the effort. The work of engaging trade-offs and hard questions creates a stronger, longer-lasting change.

Full article with thanks to https://www.strategy-business.com/article/The-road-to-successful-change-is-lined-with-trade-offs?gko=99979

Successful Change Management: 6 Surprising Reasons People Resist Change And How To Motivate Them To Embrace It Instead

Full article with thanks to https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2020/02/16/successful-change-management-6-surprising-reasons-people-resist-change-and-how-to-motivate-them-to-embrace-it-instead/

Everyone knows change is hard and the most difficult part of any change effort is obtaining buy-in. Relatively speaking, it is often the change itself—new software, new organization charts or new work methodologies—that is the easiest to manage. The more difficult part of change is building buy-in, channeling shifts in behavior and accelerating acceptance.

Peter Senge was right, “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.” Change can cause fear or discomfort when people are asked to stretch out of their comfort zones. In addition, it often requires incremental work—time to learn new concepts, build new skills or adopt new approaches. This worry, unease or extra effort can result in a wave of push-back or skepticism about the change and its value.

Given these challenges, it’s helpful to realize that the reasons people resist change are often not about the changes themselves, but about the implications of the change. The six surprising reasons people resist include the following:

People want clear future direction. Sometimes changes to systems or approaches in the way work will get done can make people question the direction or the future of the company. If there are job cuts, is the organization still viable overall? If changes are occurring in an enterprise management system, will customers still be adequately served to ensure success in the organization? In order to accept change more easily, people will benefit from understanding the overall reasons for the change—the why—and how the changes support the purpose and long-term mission of the company. They will also need to understand the expected positive impact of the change and why it will be worth the effort. Leadership must be visible as they share this kind of information. They must also be accessible in order to answer questions and they must model the way—demonstrating acceptance of the change through their own behaviors.

People want control and autonomy. In addition to having plenty of clarity from leadership, people also want to know they are empowered. When things change in the company, people may perceive they will lose control of the way they work, of their options or of their performance. In fact, one of the number one concerns people have about change is whether it will negatively impact their ability to get their work done and achieve results. Control at work is associated with greater effectiveness and even improved physical wellbeing. Increase acceptance for the change by giving people back as much control as possible. For example, the new enterprise software system may be non-negotiable, but it may be possible for teams to customize its implementation. The new workplace design may be a given, but it may be possible to give people more choice about where they work throughout the day.

People want to save face. Employees naturally have a stake in the current state and many of them may have helped create it by making decisions about or participating in previous implementations. Increase acceptability of changes by reassuring people that the past isn’t bad or wrong. In fact, previous decisions were likely made with the best possible information available at the time. Work moves fast—usually faster than systems or workplaces can move—so let people know new information and new situations are driving the changes being implemented today.

People want security. Neurologically, humans want to reduce threats and achieve security. When changes occur in an organization, they may wonder about the bigger picture or about potential implications. For example, will the change in organizational structure result in job cuts? Will the shifts in the sales management system impact their own performance if they can’t learn it fast enough? Reduce resistance to change by letting people know why the change is occurring in terms of business objectives, and reassuring people as much as possible given the true implications of decisions. Respond to the underlying concerns they may have about the changes taking place.

People want to be competent. New systems can be upsetting to people because they worry their competence will be challenged. They have likely achieved success in the current system and may worry their ability to perform will be negatively impacted in the new system. Reassure people that they will receive the necessary support to develop their skills and time to learn new approaches without negative repercussions.

People want connections with others. No matter their personality preferences, employees need both time alone and time together with coworkers. They need a sense of connection and positive relationships with colleagues. When change occurs, they may have questions about how their work with others will shift. For example, will an organizational restructure separate them from their teammates? Will a change in the workplace still allow people to sit near their friends? Reassure people about the value of relationships and collegiality by showing them ways they’ll still be able to connect, despite other shifts that may be occurring.

Companies can mistake a lack of understanding about a change with a lack of agreement. Simply communicating more or deluging people with the same information ad nauseum won’t help increase acceptance. The most effective change management requires an understanding of the root-cause issues driving resistance. Future direction, autonomy, saving face, security, competence and connections—all of these are concerns which may prevent people from embracing change. Understand the issues, clarify messages and reassure employees in order to motivate change and drive positive outcomes.

Full article with thanks to https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2020/02/16/successful-change-management-6-surprising-reasons-people-resist-change-and-how-to-motivate-them-to-embrace-it-instead/

5 Questions That (Newly) Virtual Leaders Should Ask Themselves

Full article with thanks to https://hbr.org/2020/05/5-questions-that-newly-virtual-leaders-should-ask-themselves

t is safe to say, that for the first time in the age of technology, ad hoc face-to-face meetings are no longer an option for many people. While we don’t anticipate in-person meetings to go away forever, working during the Covid-19 crisis does provide us with the opportunity to reflect on how the best leaders succeed in virtual environments.

For many, working from home, and communicating through digital mediums like Slack, Zoom, and WebEx, are nothing new. Many business models have supported virtual work for years as a necessity to accommodate employees and clients in various locations. Still, while technology has improved our ability to get work done and communicate remotely, we have not yet been forced to develop a set of best practices for leading remote teams at the capacity that has been brought on by this crisis.

My intent here is to challenge leaders to pause and identify what they need to do differently not only to sustain, but also to strengthen their skills in a virtual setting‚ particularly during a time when their teams are looking to them more than ever for direction.

First, it’s important to be aware of the factors that make working together virtually such a challenge:

  • For some, it’s uncomfortable. Every day, I watch my teenagers laugh and chat with their friends on Facetime, as if they were just another person in the room. But for many of us adults, who didn’t grow up with that same technology, it can still be quite uncomfortable. This lack of comfort makes it harder for some to open up, connect, trust, and communicate with each other virtually. If you are a leader today, in a virtual setting, you may be struggling to display the same level of authenticity and provide your team with the same sense of safety as you did in person.
  • Interpersonal dynamics are harder to manage. Both for technical reasons and because people are harder to read over video, the appropriate affect, tone, pacing, and facial expressions that we rely on for effective communication in person are more difficult to give and receive virtually, especially in group settings.
  • You can easily lose people’s attention. It’s challenging enough to engage people in a face-to-face meetings, but virtual meetings often come with a plethora of new distractions that you have little control over.
  • New skills are required, from you. Whether it’s managing tech, maintaining strong facilitation skills, or rethinking agendas, virtual is different than in-person. Knowing that is half the battle.

With these factors as a backdrop, ask yourself five questions to ensure you are being the best leader you can be as you manage your team from home.

Am I being strategic enough?

Strong leaders practice strategic communications in every interaction, be it a full-day meeting, an hour-long meeting, a sales call, a one-on-one check-in, or even an email. But communicating virtually requires even more strategic planning because you can’t rely as much on human connection or charisma to carry you. Before every exchange, take time to think about your purpose, audience, and the context of the exchange. Then write down your objectives, agenda, and the amount of time you want to spend on each item.

It helps to make your objectives broader than usual. For example, what do you want the other person (or people) to feel after you talk? Challenge yourself to up the engagement quotient to make up for the deficit of face-to-face interaction. This means asking more questions during your interactions, checking in with team members to make sure you are aligned, and leaving extra time for those moments to take place during presentations or group meetings.

Have I revamped communication plans for my direct team and the organization at large?

Moving operations virtual means that it’s time to revisit and potentially revamp your communication protocols with direct reports, employees, board members, and any other audiences you regularly work with. For example, you must now think about how you will run your weekly check-ins with team members. Will you hold these meetings by phone, over slack, or schedule a video call? While best practice says video is best, you may need to adjust your approach based on the preferences of individual employees. The same goes for meetings with clients and other stakeholders.

Using a table in a word document or Google Sheet can help you create a comprehensive plan for different types of meetings. Create at least four columns, including one for each of the below items:

  • Mode of communication (i.e. video, phone, slack)
  • Meeting cadence (i.e. weekly, monthly)
  • Meeting agenda (i.e. team building, check-ins)
  • Meeting participants (i.e. managers, board members)

Fill out your table based on how you worked prior to moving virtual, then, revamp the entire plan to adjust to your current situation.

As you begin to “revamp,” challenge everything you considered “best practice” before, from the size of your meetings to the time allotted. Ask: Should a video call  be used for all announcements or can I simply write a status report to update the team? Do I need to schedule more check-ins with my direct reports to make up for the lack of being in person? Does that meeting that took an hour in the office need to last the full 60 minutes online? Should each communication be followed by a detailed email summary to keep everyone on the same page?

Looking at the entire plan will allow you to optimize it.

How might I reset roles and responsibilities to help people to succeed?

Some people thrive while working remotely, while others may feel a lack of motivation or encounter other unforeseen challenges. Though it may not be apparent who is struggling at first, as a leader, it’s your job to check in regularly with team members about how they are coping. During your one-on-ones, ask: “How are things going for you? What challenges are you facing? What do you think you need to be successful? How can I, or the team, help?”

Through these discussions, re-evaluate each person’s strengths and weaknesses. You may find that you need to shift responsibilities around or invest in training sessions for those who feel less comfortable. For example, one of your team members might excel at running meetings in-person, but lack either the technical or facilitation skills to run them remotely. Or you may find that you have an individual who participates actively during in-person meetings, but not as actively in virtual meetings.

Because change — like shifting a role and taking on new work — can bring up sensitivities in people, it’s important to frame any suggestions you make as opportunities for growth. By diagnosing your direct report’s strongest and weakest points, placing them where they can succeed, and providing them with guidance when they are struggling, you will not only help your team be more productive, you will be helping your employees develop. In these conversations, also be sure to ask for their feedback and thoughts with respect to how the team can improve. Remember that respect, authenticity, and caring are foundational to strong leadership.

Am I keeping my eye on (and communicating about) the big picture?

When you’re working remotely, it’s easy to focus solely on the tactical, to stay glued to your computer, fielding email after email, in an earnest, unorganized fashion. With your to-do list looming in front of you, and no colleagues to pull you out of your head, you may be tempted to stay buried in the weeds. But people rely on leaders for direction, especially during uncertain times. This means, no matter how many small tasks are clogging your calendar, you need to be able to pick your head up and keep one eye on the bigger picture.

Be sure to carve out time to work “on” the business (strategy), as opposed to working “in” the business (operations). Do this by blocking off time on your personal calendar to think about strategy. Or, if your thoughts are clear, schedule a strategy session with your team. Use this time to revisit fundamental questions about the business and organization, like: “Is our value proposition clear to our customers? Are there opportunities for us to improve our business model? Is our team engaged, productive, and inspired to do their best work?”

Keep in mind this idea from Michael Porter’s classic piece, ”What Is Strategy?” He wrote, “New [strategic] positions open up because of change…new needs emerge as societies evolve.” It’s more than likely that the shifts you are experiencing during the Covid-19 crisis will present opportunities for your business, organization, and for you as a leader. In a time when it’s easy to only be focused on defense, it’s up to leaders to go on the offensive and be on the lookout for doors that might be opening.

What more can I do to strengthen our company culture?

I am continually struck by the stories I hear of teams growing even stronger during this time. Many of the most resilient leaders I work with have accomplished this by finding opportunities to align, engage, and inspire their teams around a purpose. Right now, teams need to feel connected, not only to the company’s mission but also to each other.

One way to accomplish this is to regularly set aside time for team members to highlight and share wins delivered either to customers, each other, or to the business itself. If well-crafted, you can tie the “bright spot” sharing to the company’s vision, mission, or values, reiterating the importance or the organization’s purpose and the essential role that everyone plays in achieving it. If meeting time is tight, a slack page, a quick email or another type of non-verbal communication can also be used.

To bring people together, you may also consider prioritizing some team building avenues that were less essential before. Many of our clients have begun conducting virtual social hours, meditation groups, art sharing clubs, team music performances, and fitness challenges. While these options may not be for everyone, they are just a handful of examples we have seen initiate positive team dynamics. Even something as simple as starting a meeting by asking people to bring a video, a meme, or a photo that gives them joy can foster comradery and a needed laugh.

Is there a silver lining to our current business environment? I would say, yes. The leadership skills you are building now will continue to serve you after Covid-19. There is no going back to exactly where we were before. New opportunities will open up — maybe full virtual workforces on a level we’ve never seen. And thanks to an unforeseen time in our history, you’ll be ready for it, with new skills in place to truly lead, whether from home or the office, more effectively than before.

Full article with thanks to https://hbr.org/2020/05/5-questions-that-newly-virtual-leaders-should-ask-themselves

4 Barriers to Organizational Change Found Within Leadership and Project Teams

Full article with thanks to https://www.panorama-consulting.com/barriers-to-organizational-change/?utm_campaign=Organic%20-%20LinkedIn%20-%20OCM&utm_content=146665308&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-672814

While everyone wants change, no one wants to change. This is a well-known adage in the field of change management. Put another way, it’s often easier to convince people of the need for something new than to get everyone moving in the same direction toward that objective.

While change management practitioners understand this adage, many organizations don’t. As a result, they don’t recognize the importance of investing in change management because their team is already “open to the idea of change.”

Not investing in change management is the biggest barrier to rolling out successful organizational changes. Thus, the attitudes and opinions of project teams that cause companies to overlook change management can also be considered barriers to organizational change.

Barriers to Organizational Change: The 4 Deadly A’s

1. Aloofness

In our experience with over 50 clients going through a business transformation, less than a quarter of project managers, senior leadership, IT and financial leadership embrace the need for a structured change management plan.

They were either reticent, indifferent or disinterested. Mostly, they were aloof. The primary reasons were that they . . .

  • Were too busy with technical requirements
  • Lacked understanding of the people side of change
  • Had budget constraints
  • Lacked executive support

Most clients said that, in hindsight, the first thing they would add to their project plan would be an allocation for organizational change management support.

2. Apathy

The basic lack of caring – whether on the part of senior leadership, the project team or the corporate culture – can be a huge barrier to organizational change.

Many times, it’s leadership or the IT team saying, “We have to do this project anyway, so let’s just get it done.” This type of indifference also has roots in the culture of the enterprise or within functional groups.

Then, the indifference tickles down, until employees are saying to their coworkers, “Just keep your head down and pretend to go along. In six months, we’ll be back to the way we used to do this. We’ll outlast the changes, and the new processes won’t work.”

A culture of change resistance can usually be traced back to prior efforts that were apathetic toward the need for a change structure. This culture can also be traced back to a lack of employee engagement or a lack of understanding about the role of benefits realization.

3. Assumptions

When organizations get stuck in the process of “just doing,” the people who will determine the success of the project are usually the last to know about the project.

For example, let’s say the leadership and project teams have been planning for the changes for some time, and they know the strategic imperatives as to why transformation must happen. They assume, erroneously, that everyone else is on board because they recall having mentioned the project in a town hall or company email. However, they also admit they have no idea what stakeholders heard and retained, if anything.

These leaders didn’t take the time to:

  • Articulate a vision
  • Provide active and visible sponsorship
  • Inspire hope and aspiration
  • Ask for fresh ideas
  • Take ownership for success

4. Avoidance

Avoidance of change management usually happens when leadership or project leads don’t take the time to ask employees for their opinion.

For example, the project may have a challenging timeline, and an employee might want the project team to know, “I don’t have time for that, and I don’t have any support.”

The result of avoiding feedback is a lost opportunity for stakeholders to be a part of the process and solution, to express their fears, to share their ideas and to consider the opportunities that the changes could bring. Most importantly, the organization misses the chance to capture overlooked or undocumented benefits.

We have conducted focus groups with thousands of employees, and the overwhelming majority just want to have a voice.

Why? Because change is personal, and employees have a stake in the result. They want to be heard and considered in the process. They actually do want the company and project to succeed – they just need to first understand the “why.”

To ensure employee engagement, it’s important for leaders to ask themselves:

  1. Do I understand the risks and benefits of this project from all levels?
  2. Do the expected results depend on people changing how they do their jobs?
  3. What percentage of the new ERP system’s processes and benefits are dependent on users?

The Importance of Change Management

The importance of change management cannot be understated. Change management gives employees a voice and provides them with the tools and easy-to-understand language they need to navigate buy-in and own the changes.

If any of these four deadly A’s causes a company to neglect change management, this will be a barrier to organizational changes, such as new business processes and new ERP software.

No organization can successfully roll out such organizational changes when employees will feel ignored, unimportant and confused. Requiring employees in this state of mind to embrace change will not create an effective and efficient workforce but one that does the bare minimum – just enough to appear accepting of change but not enough to take full advantage of new processes and technology.

To learn more, request a free consultation below for the opportunity to speak with one of our organizational change management consultants.

Full article with thanks to https://www.panorama-consulting.com/barriers-to-organizational-change/?utm_campaign=Organic%20-%20LinkedIn%20-%20OCM&utm_content=146665308&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-672814

4 Barriers to Organizational Change Found Within Leadership and Project Teams
What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workforce

What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workforce

Full article with thanks to https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/what-800-executives-envision-for-the-postpandemic-workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to our working lives in the short term, and is likely to change the way that we work in the long term. To understand these changes, McKinsey commissioned a survey of business executives around the world in June 2020. The results suggest that the crisis may accelerate some workforce trends already underway, such as the adoption of automation and digitization, increased demand for contractors and gig workers, and more remote work. Those changes in turn will create greater demand for workers to fill jobs in areas like health and hygiene, cybersecurity, and data analytics.

The responses to the survey point to a period of disruptive change ahead. Not only has COVID-19 thrown millions of individuals out of work, but the mix of jobs that emerge from this crisis is likely different than those that were lost. People with the lowest incomes and educational attainment have been disproportionately affected, putting strains on achieving inclusive growth and potentially raising income inequality. Small and midsize businesses and communities of color, already more severely affected by COVID-19, are also more vulnerable to disruption from increased automation.

These insights are based on a recent survey of 800 executives, representing a full range of industries in eight countries. Half of the respondents are based in the United States, and the rest work in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The respondents represented businesses of different sizes, with a quarter from companies with less than $1 billion in revenues, and the remainder split between companies with revenues of $1 billion to $10 billion and those with revenues over $10 billion.

Unprecedented restrictions on travel, physical interactions, and changes in consumer behavior since COVID-19 took hold has forced companies and consumers to change the way they operate. This has spurred digital transformations in a matter of weeks rather than months or years. As nonessential workers shifted to working from home, 85 percent of respondents in the McKinsey survey said their businesses have somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration, such as videoconferencing and filesharing. Roughly half of those surveyed reported increasing digitization of customer channels, for example, via ecommerce, mobile apps, or chatbots. Some 35 percent have further digitized their supply chains, for example, by connecting their suppliers with digital platforms in supply chain management.

Adoption of automation technologies—including robotics, autonomous vehicles, and AI-driven software that can perform processing workflows—has also accelerated during the pandemic, although to a lesser extent than digitization. These trends reflect automation’s ability to facilitate contactless interactions at a time of social distancing and heightened awareness of hygiene, as well as cost pressures that may arise from the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. Another plus: robots don’t get sick.

For example, during the pandemic, American Eagle Outfitters deployed robots to help it sort clothes in its warehouses to meet a surge of online orders, and IBM saw a surge in new customers in the second quarter of 2020 for its AI-driven Watson Assistant, a platform for deploying chatbots and other customer services. Use of such technologies allows contactless customer interaction in a period when human contact is discouraged and builds resilience by limiting reliance on virus-susceptible employees. Providers of cloud services, such as Amazon and Alibaba, have announced plans to markedly step up investment in cloud services, an indication that they expect increased demand related to changes in the workplace post-COVID.

Nearly half of executives note that their adoption of automation has accelerated moderately, and roughly 20 percent report significantly increasing automation. Across countries, the United States and India stand out, with 83 percent of executives surveyed in the United States, and 70 percent of executives surveyed in India, reporting faster adoption of automation.

Companies across industries are reporting increased adoption of automation. Brain Corp, for example, reported that the use of robots to clean retail locations in the United States had risen 13.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 and 24.0 percent in the following quarter, compared with the same periods in 2019.  With a higher volume of packages moving through sorting centers, FedEx and other distribution companies have deployed more robots to mitigate the impact of having fewer employees on site because of social distancing.

While executives in all sectors report increased adoption of digitization and automation, those in the financial services and technology sectors have seen the greatest acceleration of such technologies since the COVID-19 outbreak. Some 88 percent of finance and insurance executives and 76 percent of information and technology executives reported increased implementation of automation and AI since the outbreak. These sectors were leaders in digitization and automation prior to the pandemic, and the peculiarities of the coronavirus made the advantage of digital payments and other machine-powered activities clear. Use of tap credit cards and cashless money transfer systems has risen during the pandemic, and more and more transactions are taking place online. From April to May this year, downloads of the Venmo person-to-person payments app rose 16.5 and 20.1 percent at Square Cash.  Consumer migration to digital banking of this sort may mean fewer bank employees are needed in retail branches.

Adoption of automation and AI has expanded most among firms that had a greater shift to remote work since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to our survey. Among executives of companies that moved most of their employees to remote work during the pandemic, 80 percent said they had increased automation, while only 51 percent of executives from companies that adopted remote work for just a few employees said automation had grown.

Even amid the rapid changes that are underway, executives are confident about their companies’ ability to navigate these changes. Eighty-two percent say they feel at least somewhat confident—with half saying they’re highly confident. One silver lining from the pandemic is that companies have found they can adopt new technologies much faster than they previously thought. As Microsoft’s CEO has famously said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

Before the pandemic, remote work had struggled to establish much of a beachhead, as companies worried about its impact on productivity and corporate culture. With the advent of COVID-19, however, tens of millions of employees were sent home, armed with laptops and other digital technologies, to start work. Now, some employers intend to increase the number of their employees working remotely at least some of the time, although at far lower levels than seen during lockdowns and quarantines.

Across all sectors, 15 percent of executives surveyed amid the pandemic said at least one-tenth of their employees could work remotely two or more days a week going forward, almost double the 8 percent of respondents who expressed that intention before COVID-19. This varies by country, with 20 percent of executives surveyed in the United Kingdom and Germany saying that at least one-tenth of their employees could work remotely two or more days a week going forward, which drops to only 4 percent among respondents in China. Extending remote work beyond two days a week, however, was less popular among respondents overall, with just 7 percent saying at least one-tenth of their employees could work three or more days a week remotely.

The potential for remote work is highly concentrated in a handful of sectors, such as information and technology, finance and insurance, and management, and executives from those sectors show greater intent to deploy their employees remotely. Some 34 percent of respondents from the information and technology sector said they expect to have at least one-tenth of their employees working remotely for at least two days a week after COVID-19, compared with 22 percent of executives from that sector surveyed before the pandemic. Most of the companies that have announced plans for greater remote work among their employees are from the technology of finance sectors, notably Facebook, Twitter, and Hitachi. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, for instance, recently announced that it would close five offices in smaller cities around the United States and have employees there work remotely. Similarly, Morgan Stanley and Mondelez have said they will be using hybrid work models going forward. With such corporate leaders setting new expectations for how and where work gets done, remote work could become a way to lower real estate costs and compete for talent.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that more than 60 percent of workers in the US economy cannot work remotely. Their jobs require at least some physical presence such as standing on a meat processing line, helping customers in a store, or providing healthcare services. In less economically developed countries, the share of workers unable to work remotely is even higher. The potential for remote work depends on the nature of tasks conducted; workers in jobs requiring interaction with machinery or in outdoor spaces, for example, are less likely to be able to work remotely than those using computers to do their work.

There will be challenges in managing a workforce that is working partly remotely and partly in person. Companies will need to reconstruct how work is done, decide which employees and roles are best suited to remote work, and reconfigure and rethink the workplace.

COVID-19 has drawn intense attention to issues of sanitation and workplace safety. In our survey, 83 percent of respondents said they would hire more people for health and safety roles. Of these, 73 percent of executives said they expect to hire more people to manage on-site physical distancing and sanitation. This is also an area, however, where companies could deploy robotics. Robots now can clean floors, windows, and ducts, and one robot even promises to kill bacteria in hospital settings.

As workspaces are redesigned, companies will likely add new roles in facilities management. Workers specializing in things like ventilation and elevator operations will become more important, as will custodians and caterers. Gone is the coffee bar, replaced perhaps by a station where temperatures are taken. More space between workspaces and employees assigned to zones to better prevent disease spread will require new roles in security.

Some 35 percent of survey respondents said they would need more workers skilled in automation, AI, and robotics, a reflection of the increased deployment of automation during COVID-19. Companies as varied as Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, and AT&T already have built programs to retrain their employees losing jobs to automation in new skills that complement automation. Such skills currently are rare among the workforce, and retraining employees in them typically costs companies less than laying them off.

Two years from now, about 70 percent of the executives in our survey expect to use more temporary workers and contractors onsite at their companies than they did before the crisis.

The intention to migrate to a model with greater reliance on on-site contractors is particularly pronounced in the accommodation and food services sector, as well as in healthcare and social assistance.

Uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out and when economies will regain momentum may be among the reasons for plans to increase the number of contractors they use. Another reason to make labor a variable cost through contracting may reflect cost pressures companies experience as they work to survive through the downturn.

COVID-19 already has dramatically changed the way many jobs are done, and employers are now planning how best to extract benefits from those changes as they prepare for business after the pandemic subsides. Greater digitization and automation, more demand for independent contractors, and increased reliance on remote work have the potential to deliver better productivity, lower costs, and enhance resilience. Innovation historically has driven changes beneficial to workers and humanity at large, and new workplace trends hold the promise of greater productivity that will fuel broader well-being. The trick will be in reducing the risk of unequal outcomes, ensuring companies of all sizes can benefit, and preparing workers for these shifts.

Full article with thanks to https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/what-800-executives-envision-for-the-postpandemic-workforce

What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workforce

Full article with thanks to https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/what-800-executives-envision-for-the-postpandemic-workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to our working lives in the short term, and is likely to change the way that we work in the long term.1 To understand these changes, McKinsey commissioned a survey of business executives around the world in June 2020. The results suggest that the crisis may accelerate some workforce trends already underway, such as the adoption of automation and digitization, increased demand for contractors and gig workers, and more remote work. Those changes in turn will create greater demand for workers to fill jobs in areas like health and hygiene, cybersecurity, and data analytics.

The responses to the survey point to a period of disruptive change ahead. Not only has COVID-19 thrown millions of individuals out of work, but the mix of jobs that emerge from this crisis is likely different than those that were lost. People with the lowest incomes and educational attainment have been disproportionately affected, putting strains on achieving inclusive growth and potentially raising income inequality. Small and midsize businesses and communities of color, already more severely affected by COVID-19, are also more vulnerable to disruption from increased automation.

These insights are based on a recent survey of 800 executives, representing a full range of industries in eight countries. Half of the respondents are based in the United States, and the rest work in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The respondents represented businesses of different sizes, with a quarter from companies with less than $1 billion in revenues, and the remainder split between companies with revenues of $1 billion to $10 billion and those with revenues over $10 billion.

Since the start of COVID-19, executives say adoption of digitization and automation technologies has accelerated

Unprecedented restrictions on travel, physical interactions, and changes in consumer behavior since COVID-19 took hold has forced companies and consumers to change the way they operate. This has spurred digital transformations in a matter of weeks rather than months or years. As nonessential workers shifted to working from home, 85 percent of respondents in the McKinsey survey said their businesses have somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration, such as videoconferencing and filesharing. Roughly half of those surveyed reported increasing digitization of customer channels, for example, via ecommerce, mobile apps, or chatbots. Some 35 percent have further digitized their supply chains, for example, by connecting their suppliers with digital platforms in supply chain management.

Adoption of automation technologies—including robotics, autonomous vehicles, and AI-driven software that can perform processing workflows—has also accelerated during the pandemic, although to a lesser extent than digitization. These trends reflect automation’s ability to facilitate contactless interactions at a time of social distancing and heightened awareness of hygiene, as well as cost pressures that may arise from the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. Another plus: robots don’t get sick.

For example, during the pandemic, American Eagle Outfitters deployed robots to help it sort clothes in its warehouses to meet a surge of online orders, and IBM saw a surge in new customers in the second quarter of 2020 for its AI-driven Watson Assistant, a platform for deploying chatbots and other customer services.3 Use of such technologies allows contactless customer interaction in a period when human contact is discouraged and builds resilience by limiting reliance on virus-susceptible employees. Providers of cloud services, such as Amazon and Alibaba, have announced plans to markedly step up investment in cloud services, an indication that they expect increased demand related to changes in the workplace post-COVID.

Nearly half of executives note that their adoption of automation has accelerated moderately, and roughly 20 percent report significantly increasing automation. Across countries, the United States and India stand out, with 83 percent of executives surveyed in the United States, and 70 percent of executives surveyed in India, reporting faster adoption of automation.

Companies across industries are reporting increased adoption of automation. Brain Corp, for example, reported that the use of robots to clean retail locations in the United States had risen 13.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 and 24.0 percent in the following quarter, compared with the same periods in 2019.4 With a higher volume of packages moving through sorting centers, FedEx and other distribution companies have deployed more robots to mitigate the impact of having fewer employees on site because of social distancing.5

While executives in all sectors report increased adoption of digitization and automation, those in the financial services and technology sectors have seen the greatest acceleration of such technologies since the COVID-19 outbreak. Some 88 percent of finance and insurance executives and 76 percent of information and technology executives reported increased implementation of automation and AI since the outbreak. These sectors were leaders in digitization and automation prior to the pandemic, and the peculiarities of the coronavirus made the advantage of digital payments and other machine-powered activities clear. Use of tap credit cards and cashless money transfer systems has risen during the pandemic, and more and more transactions are taking place online. From April to May this year, downloads of the Venmo person-to-person payments app rose 16.5 and 20.1 percent at Square Cash.6 Consumer migration to digital banking of this sort may mean fewer bank employees are needed in retail branches.

Adoption of automation and AI has expanded most among firms that had a greater shift to remote work since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to our survey. Among executives of companies that moved most of their employees to remote work during the pandemic, 80 percent said they had increased automation, while only 51 percent of executives from companies that adopted remote work for just a few employees said automation had grown.

Even amid the rapid changes that are underway, executives are confident about their companies’ ability to navigate these changes. Eighty-two percent say they feel at least somewhat confident—with half saying they’re highly confident. One silver lining from the pandemic is that companies have found they can adopt new technologies much faster than they previously thought. As Microsoft’s CEO has famously said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”7

Some remote work is here to stay, but not for everyone or for every workday

Before the pandemic, remote work had struggled to establish much of a beachhead, as companies worried about its impact on productivity and corporate culture. With the advent of COVID-19, however, tens of millions of employees were sent home, armed with laptops and other digital technologies, to start work. Now, some employers intend to increase the number of their employees working remotely at least some of the time, although at far lower levels than seen during lockdowns and quarantines.

Across all sectors, 15 percent of executives surveyed amid the pandemic said at least one-tenth of their employees could work remotely two or more days a week going forward, almost double the 8 percent of respondents who expressed that intention before COVID-19. This varies by country, with 20 percent of executives surveyed in the United Kingdom and Germany saying that at least one-tenth of their employees could work remotely two or more days a week going forward, which drops to only 4 percent among respondents in China. Extending remote work beyond two days a week, however, was less popular among respondents overall, with just 7 percent saying at least one-tenth of their employees could work three or more days a week remotely.

The potential for remote work is highly concentrated in a handful of sectors, such as information and technology, finance and insurance, and management, and executives from those sectors show greater intent to deploy their employees remotely. Some 34 percent of respondents from the information and technology sector said they expect to have at least one-tenth of their employees working remotely for at least two days a week after COVID-19, compared with 22 percent of executives from that sector surveyed before the pandemic. Most of the companies that have announced plans for greater remote work among their employees are from the technology of finance sectors, notably Facebook, Twitter, and Hitachi. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, for instance, recently announced that it would close five offices in smaller cities around the United States and have employees there work remotely. Similarly, Morgan Stanley and Mondelez have said they will be using hybrid work models going forward. With such corporate leaders setting new expectations for how and where work gets done, remote work could become a way to lower real estate costs and compete for talent.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that more than 60 percent of workers in the US economy cannot work remotely. Their jobs require at least some physical presence such as standing on a meat processing line, helping customers in a store, or providing healthcare services. In less economically developed countries, the share of workers unable to work remotely is even higher.8 The potential for remote work depends on the nature of tasks conducted; workers in jobs requiring interaction with machinery or in outdoor spaces, for example, are less likely to be able to work remotely than those using computers to do their work.

There will be challenges in managing a workforce that is working partly remotely and partly in person. Companies will need to reconstruct how work is done, decide which employees and roles are best suited to remote work, and reconfigure and rethink the workplace.

Companies plan to increase roles in health and hygiene

COVID-19 has drawn intense attention to issues of sanitation and workplace safety. In our survey, 83 percent of respondents said they would hire more people for health and safety roles. Of these, 73 percent of executives said they expect to hire more people to manage on-site physical distancing and sanitation. This is also an area, however, where companies could deploy robotics. Robots now can clean floors, windows, and ducts, and one robot even promises to kill bacteria in hospital settings.

As workspaces are redesigned, companies will likely add new roles in facilities management. Workers specializing in things like ventilation and elevator operations will become more important, as will custodians and caterers. Gone is the coffee bar, replaced perhaps by a station where temperatures are taken. More space between workspaces and employees assigned to zones to better prevent disease spread will require new roles in security.

Some 35 percent of survey respondents said they would need more workers skilled in automation, AI, and robotics, a reflection of the increased deployment of automation during COVID-19. Companies as varied as Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, and AT&T already have built programs to retrain their employees losing jobs to automation in new skills that complement automation. Such skills currently are rare among the workforce, and retraining employees in them typically costs companies less than laying them off.

When hiring for on-site roles, executives expect to rely much more on contractors and temporary workers

Two years from now, about 70 percent of the executives in our survey expect to use more temporary workers and contractors onsite at their companies than they did before the crisis.

The intention to migrate to a model with greater reliance on on-site contractors is particularly pronounced in the accommodation and food services sector, as well as in healthcare and social assistance.

Uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out and when economies will regain momentum may be among the reasons for plans to increase the number of contractors they use. Another reason to make labor a variable cost through contracting may reflect cost pressures companies experience as they work to survive through the downturn.

COVID-19 already has dramatically changed the way many jobs are done, and employers are now planning how best to extract benefits from those changes as they prepare for business after the pandemic subsides. Greater digitization and automation, more demand for independent contractors, and increased reliance on remote work have the potential to deliver better productivity, lower costs, and enhance resilience. Innovation historically has driven changes beneficial to workers and humanity at large, and new workplace trends hold the promise of greater productivity that will fuel broader well-being. The trick will be in reducing the risk of unequal outcomes, ensuring companies of all sizes can benefit, and preparing workers for these shifts.

Full article with thanks to https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/what-800-executives-envision-for-the-postpandemic-workforce

What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workforce