Navigating Change, A Practical Guide

Navigating Change: A Practical Approach to Adoption

Organizations go through constant change.  At key points in time big changes are required that take a focused effort to help the organization adapt to the new reality.  In this blog post, we delve into a recent change management and training project undertaken with a client who needed to transition their workforce to a new system and updated processes. This project exemplifies the impact a focused and pragmatic change management program can have when taking on a major change to core systems and processes.

Our client assembled the technical resources to build and deploy a new system which replaces their core processes.  They had a small team supporting ongoing training but knew it was going to take more than their team could handle on their own to equip their staff for the scale of the changes being implemented.  At the same time, they wanted to make sure who they hired to help with the change journey took a practical approach to equipping staff.  

The Challenge: Equipping without Overwhelming

Embracing change is never easy, especially in a well-established organization with deeply ingrained practices. Our client had a dedicated workforce, but they needed to adapt to new technologies and workflows. This meant not only adopting new tools but also rethinking their approach to work.  At the same time, the workforce was already stretched and the approach could not overwhelm.  We needed a way to come alongside the daily responsibilities of people and build in the transition to their routines.

The Strategy: A “Better Together” Change Management Approach

We developed an approach to get key staff involved in the project at all levels of the organization.  Change was not a process focused on a go-live date or a new job responsibility.  Change was a journey that included staff walking alongside the project team as we progressed.  Demonstrations of new functionality, key solution reviews, and project status updates were built into the weekly rhythms of the project.  Staff felt part of the process rather than having a technology solution handed to them to figure out after it was built.

We built our change strategy on some core building blocks.

  1. Leadership Engagement: We identified key stakeholders and most importantly, got them involved in giving updates to the staff as part of the communication processes they already had in place.  Leadership was part of the team, not just providing oversight.
  2. Change Network: The most important step was identifying key staff from various departments who are effective communicators, passionate about supporting their mission, and influential with their colleagues.  They became an extension of the project team, meeting weekly to see product updates, engage in solving issues and bringing what they are learning back to their teams. Their involvement was crucial in driving the change forward.
  3. Consistent, Concise Communication: Regular, brief, easy to read updates and video demonstrations ensured that staff were well-informed.  The communication was always in everyday language – no consultant or technology speak.  Everyone could engage and follow. And our Change Network team always received updates early – so they were never surprised and ready to answer questions and apply updates to their team situation.
  4. Training Needs Analysis: An assessment was conducted to determine the specific training needs of different departments and individuals. This helped tailor the training programs to meet their unique requirements.  Everyone had a sense of what they needed to learn and why.
  5. Customized Training Modules: We developed a series of training modules that covered both the technical aspects of the new system and the process changes required to adapt to the changing work environment.  Training was offered in different formats – live classroom, written instructions and video so different learning styles could find what worked best for them.
  6. Staff Trainers: Our Change Network Team stepped up and trained their colleagues in many cases.  Central trainers became coaches and provided support.  Many classes were led by staff who understood the practical needs of their colleagues.
  7. Ongoing Training: So often on large projects all the training is done up front. Our Change Network Team transformed into a User Network and ongoing and advanced training became a core focus after go live. Staff continued to be equipped and supported as features grew and issues were resolved.

The Results: Adoption and Ongoing Learning

After months of dedicated effort, we successfully transitioned to the new systems and processes.  The best part was that so many staff felt they were part of the team and had a hand in making it the transition successful.  Adoption became a team effort rather than a focus of a few.

This project stands as a testament to the power of practical approach to change management and training. Getting key stakeholders involved in the project who then include their department teams.  Work was integrated into existing processes, tools and rhythms.  It seems intuitive, but it takes focus on keeping it simple and effective while creating a culture that really believes – we are better if we do this together!