Posted on September 2017 By Debra Linder
I saw a slide that said:
“100% of successful change projects had a great technical solution and,
98% of unsuccessful change projects had a great technical solution”
So, if technology isn’t the greatest challenge, then what could it be? The human aspect perhaps?
The winning formula?
Yes, we’ve all heard that the winning formula for any change project is always SUCCESS = process + systems + behaviours, right? But, if this is such a well-known formula then it should be the norm, not the exception, that every IT project should be a success. But it is not the norm….and I may have just discovered an important piece of the puzzle.
As I’ve previously written, the processes I’ve used when coaching people using personal development can easily be translated to the business world. During my IT training career, I’ve witnessed companies implement a variety of technical solutions across several industries around the globe. Frequently this technical solution is believed to be the ‘holy grail’ and once we’ve taught everyone how to be functional on the new solution, success would be imminent.
Linking the Emotional Response
I’ve always believed the key to overcoming resistance to adopting new technology was linked to the emotional response to change. That when these emotional responses were addressed, your organisation has the opportunity to create not only a high level of behavioural change, but you can also create positive enthusiastic groups of people who end up becoming your strongest change advocates.
I’ve witnessed end users who felt the new solution would cause them more work, or feared the automation would render them redundant. They frequently expressed anger, stress, anxiety, or even apathy. I had not been empowered to address this emotional aspect of change in IT, until now…
Testing the Theory
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a transformation project with a company called API. What I expected was to again walk into a traditional IT department and work with the technical team who would require me to simply write and deliver a technical training solution. But refreshingly, I’m getting to test my theory…
The team at API who are responsible for designing and delivering the solution report to Steve, one of the company’s senior leaders and the General Manager of HR. Steve is genuinely proud of the team he has built and openly promotes their uniqueness in the ways in which he creates and maintains a highly engaged team. He understands that when you deal with change you are always dealing with human emotions rather than just managing a process. He understands you cannot separate the two, if you ignore one, you will fail.
API needed systems enablement of their people processes, and this is how the project came to fruition. Steve was aware that the change required to go to a system enabled process, would involve a big behavioural shift in how the rest of API manage their people. Steve’s goal to ensure this initiative will enhance API’s capability around change leadership begins with addressing the human aspect of change first. After all, a good outcome is not his focus; an ‘exceptional’ outcome is.
A Powerful Change Initiative
Steve, along with another senior leader Paul, have diverse backgrounds in leadership, psychology, and neuroscience. They believe strongly in nurturing and developing their teams. Together they have created such a powerful change initiative for their SAP SuccessFactors implementation.
Steve’s diverse team are new to being responsible for an IT implementation and yet, they have all passionately taken ownership of the design of the solution to be delivered. They have also been coached to become effective change agents during and after the go live.
Steve and Paul have implanted their well-honed adaptations of some proven change, psychology and learning models in their strategy for API. Some of these models include:
Stages of Learning by Noel Burch
Concerns Based Adoption Model – Clinical Psych model
The Stages of Grief by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
The change agents are prepared for and experienced in dealing with both the negative and positive emotions that will arise because of the new automation. These people are educated with understandings and empowered with techniques to diffuse resistance and create resilience for when the system goes live….and long after.
A Buddy Support System
The change agents attend the trainings with the team members as local support for each team attending training. The workshops begin with everyone pairing with a “buddy” for all activities. This ‘buddy’ will be someone with whom the team member can feel safe, while sharing ideas, concerns, and technical skills. The goal is for the ‘buddy’ to become yet another resource for end user support during and after the go live.
The sessions present theory followed by very fun experiential activities usually resulting in lots of laughter and ‘ah ha’ moments. Next, more specific concepts are presented and everyone gets an opportunity to practice with their buddy using contextual scenarios. The best part about the exercises is that the team members get to use their real day to day work data to practice this new thinking model and actually write part of their goal plans in the workshop.
All this is done prior to demonstrating the software. So, when functionality is finally introduced, the reaction has been much more positive and met with less anxiety than I’ve seen in previous software trainings.
API on track for a success
Throughout my involvement to date, this change initiative has demonstrated that getting the right people in HR involved early on, has valuable benefits. It has also reinforced my belief that successful IT change is not just about implementing the software and processes, but about managing the human aspect compassionately and effectively.
This project is well under way and in my opinion, API have laid a solid foundation to achieve success. This project definitely will promote one of their goals for creating and maintaining a culture of energised, talented and committed people.