Change FAQs: Navigating Change with Clarity and Confidence Webinar
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Recently, I led a webinar for the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) on Navigating Change with Clarity and Confidence. There were some amazing questions asked from the Project Managers on the session and I always like to provide a blog post after a webinar, conference, class, or course that provides all the FAQs in a one-stop-shop.
Let's get right on into it!
Q. Lata, often we see organisations move on before a change has been embedded. The next change appears before the last one has completed - this leads to fatigue. Businesses do recognise this but feel compelled to follow the 'bouncing ball' - any pointers?
Great question! This is a big issue in many organisations - so rest assured that you are not alone. I've worked on changes where 2 weeks later I've moved to a new project. I've worked on changes where key members of the project team moved to their next project before the project officially launched! There is no right or wrong, but embedding the change has to happen and sadly when a project disbands, the focus from the business depletes too and the embedding never happens at all. It's super important to influence both the project sponsor and the business to consider what success really looks like: is it delivery, or is it adoption/use/realising the business benefits? Paint a picture of what might happen if the change isn't embedded. And do what you can to support the organisation to do proper prioritisation of the portfolio (hint: not everything can be high priority and it is ok to stop or pause projects that are no longer relevant). It reminds me of a quote (yes I relate everything to food, I told you I was a foodie): "Eat less to live longer to eat more." The same might be said of project portfolios! Finally, a good Change practitioner will help you craft a strong embed plan and either help you deliver it or hand it over to the business. And... this can start to happen before the change has launched!
Q. What is Change Management's role in the future measurement of cost benefit realisation?
Part of the change is putting the processes in place for measuring success, both during the change, at launch and well into the future i.e. 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc. Change facilitates these new processes and rhythms as part of business readiness, handover and embedding. Even if Change is no longer around, they should ensure someone is responsible for continuing to track these metrics in the future. There's also a new discipline growing in Benefits Realisation - so you might have someone who literally specialises in this (given it's so important!).
Q. A quote from someone in my organisation is that there are two constants: 1) we don't like the way things are; and 2) we don't like change. Why is this the case, as I am sure this is not the case with just my organisation. Are these common themes?
Yep - people will happily complain until they are blue in the face about how dire and unworkable the current situation is, but then you'll put a call out for Change Champions and hear crickets, or you'll brief them on the change and be met with tons of resistance, or you'll install the new system and they'll try and revert back to the old ways. At a deep level, people do want to grow and improve and live better lives. But change is hard and requires courage and often a willingness to go through pain, discomfort and confusion for things to get better. So people are often just not as self-aware or as altruistic as they believe they are - which is why I take a different approach to change, to shake people up and wake them up, to inspire and empower them. Because then, you're not just getting them on board with this change, but you’re getting them enthusiastic for future changes, too. Don't make people wrong for how they are hardwired - give them a reason to believe it will be worth it.
Q. In those cases, I would question whether adoption is a key deliverable for the PM?
I use the analogy of a house. What's the point of building a house that no one ever lives in? "Oh, but once people see how nice the house is, that we used the best carpeting and the lighting can be changed on your smartphone, of course they'll want to move in!" Will they? Really? What if they don't know the house is there? What if they don't like the outside colour of the house so they never step inside to see your carpeting and lighting? What if they don't like the neighbours? What if the school bus doesn't go down that street on its route and the parents can't take the kids to school every day? What if they don't know how to use the smartphone app... or even get through the front door (which is also controlled by said app). This is the difference between delivery and adoption. And it all comes down to what you signed up to as a PM. The roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and deliverables of everyone (PM included) on a project were not predetermined and set in stone the day the world was made. Make deliverables a conversation - in some cases, adoption may be a key deliverable for the PM and they don't roll off the project until the change has been embedded. In other cases, delivery to launch is the only deliverable and adoption is owned by the business. There's no right or wrong - what's important is to have the conversation. I truly believe that no one wants to build a house that sits empty, especially if there are families without homes.
Q. Do you have any advice on measuring Change Management success? Adoption metrics, business benefit achievement. It’s difficult to measure how people have embraced a change activity.
You can measure Change Management success in 3 ways: change delivery (anything you use to track the planning and delivery of the change activities), change readiness (anything that you use to track business readiness, change risk mitigation and support), and change success (the project business case metrics and the Change Vision metrics). The #1 thing to measure on how people have embraced a change activity is confidence. If Change Management is about people being informed, ready and confident for the change… measure their confidence. That’s the main measure I use time and again with EVERY change.
Q. Do you think that the 'Involved' people are the ones that have the real responsibility for Change Management or do you see this as the Change Manager/Practitioner’s responsibility?
The business owns the change overall and end-to-end and into the future. The project owns delivery of the change to an agreed time (projects have an end date). The Change Manager/Practitioner facilitates the process and empowers each and every stakeholder to own the change. So yes the “Involved” people are the ones who are truly responsible for Change Management. But remember - everyone has a day job and many people simply aren’t equipped with the knowledge, skills or capability to easily apply a Change approach or lens to their work, whether in projects or BAU. It’s a capability and confidence issue, which is why many Project Managers, leaders, and support teams are learning change leadership skills.
Q. What is NLP?
NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It’s the study of excellence in behaviour, communication, and psychology (or your emotions). Basically, you take people who want an improvement in an area of their life and change the meaning of the problem, event or decision in their unconscious mind. We can do incredible things with NLP: we can release limiting beliefs, change habits, get clarity around problems and decisions, and install positivity and motivation. And it goes further than therapy or counselling - because success is based on results and we coach into future goals (much like Change Management!). It’s about high performance and inner power. And so you can start to understand the amazing benefits of applying NLP in a Change Management context, and that’s most of what I do: it’s taking traditional Change activities or practices and applying an NLP technique or tool to get real engagement and buy-in from stakeholders at an emotional AND rational level. The magic happens in the blending of Change with NLP.
Lata Hamilton is a Change Leadership expert and the creator of Leading Successful Change, a 6-week course that will grow your confidence to lead change end-to-end so you can have the influence and impact you want. If you need help with your next organisational change, get in touch with Lata via the "Contact" button above or LinkedIn. Or get her free video on building trust instantly with stakeholders here.