OK first let me say… yes – I know every die hard Star Wars fan thinks I am mixing my metaphors – but stay with me….. there is method to the madness!
So many businesses, teams and individuals I meet with are suffering with some serious change fatigue. Businesses are feeling the pressure to keep up with technology innovation and change (we can thank the cloud revolution for this) that technology change is frequently implemented with a ‘do or die’ attitude. This attitude often fosters overly aggressive timelines and a continuous delivery schedule that is leaving users worn out. Add to this mix an agile development approach and I’m not surprised (nor should you be) that users are exhausted. As Luke Skywalker said ’I’ve got a bad feeling about this’…
It seems to me like common sense would suggest that we as change leaders need to help our people to move from a tired victim of change to feeling confident and in control. Before I move on, you may question whether I’m speaking to you, my IT and business leader brethren. Yes, yes I am. We are all in the business of change. We add a system, we’ve changed the way our users works. We upgrade a system, we’ve changed the way our users work. We remove a system… you get the idea so please read on.
Due to the break neck speed of technology based changes, Change and Adoption management are critical, now more than ever. It has become integral that we spend more and more time to manage the people side of projects. This is a not a revelation, but the extent and cost of the risk of ignoring it might be.
We’ve all heard that old adage – ‘What gets measured gets managed’. In project management led projects, we usually see a detailed risk register that is discussed weekly and is used to benchmark success or failure of any given project. Including people based risk in these registers is crucial, not just in measuring the success of your project, but the success of your change management program. From the outset, project teams must be asking “what percentage of this project is dependent on people doing their jobs differently? Have we factored that risk into the project plan and what are we doing to mitigate this risk?”
Projects that fail to mitigate against adoption risks (including lack of adoption or delayed rates of adoption), will often have an increased risk of failure or at best a budget overrun. Add to that the risk that the project can return little or no value from the investment and this risk suddenly becomes pretty scary and one to keep a close eye on.
One McKinsey study showed that IT projects “run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted” The cost of fixing people based adoption issues is not just measured in dollars (although that is the easiest the measure), it’s in time and people engagement.
We can’t simply lead the horse to water and be ok when it doesn’t drink. If an IT project aims to increase worker collaboration, it’s not successful when the technology is deployed, it’s successful when workers start to collaborate better.
In many “transformational” cases, it’s the people outcome not the technology outcome that is the true measure.
Ok, so back to the Change Jedi….. add someone, your Jedi (or if you’re truly into Change Management, a team of people/Jedis – AKA the Jedi council) who are focussed on giving you, your company, and your people the tools to mitigate the risks associated with change and guiding your teams fostering change resilience. All of a sudden the likelihood that this project will meet its objective is 6 times higher. “Your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
Change and Adoption management isn’t all about “Jedi mind tricks”. It’s about planning, knowing the impact on teams and users and then applying the said “Jedi mind tricks” like personalised communication strategies, formal listening frameworks, and sensitivity analysis. Even the use of language (I could write a whole blog piece on that) can be game changer that ultimately contributes to user attitudes to change and ultimately the broader success of the change.
So the question you need to ask yourself and your project team is: Can you afford to not have a Change Jedi on your project team?
**At Ensyst, we view change management as a key component of all our work and can offer your organisation the support it needs with our projects or beyond.