It isn’t.. Trust me it isn’t . It isn’t enough to roll out change and then leave it to BAU to survive. This is equivalent of bringing a child in the world and leaving them on their own even before they can walk. Change has to be cared for, embedded and then at the right time made BAU. In my experience, organisations are always in a hurry to make things BAU. That is exactly where we undo most of the efforts to introduce change
Look at most of the project organisations set-ups for change projects, you will find Business Readiness as a stream but you will rarely find a stream around ‘ BAU assurance’ or ‘ Change Assurance’. We put in lot of efforts to ensure that the business is ready to receive the change but we seem to put none to ensure that the change is supported on an ongoing basis. I am sure that the budget distribution on change projects reflect the same situation. Majority of budget is allocated to preparing for the change and introducing the change. By the time that happens, the ‘project’ has very little left for ongoing change assurance. If needed money has to be found from BAU and that is always flushed with cash, isn’t it 🙂
It is ironic that in most cases, we expect change to be supported by the existing structures. We tend to retrofit the change to work with existing systems. It is almost a case of someone giving you a latest car but asking me to drive it on the same old narrow bumpy road. How will my experience be? frustrating to say the least. It is likely that I am not going to use that car much because it means more hassle for me and very little use. That is how internal customers feel most of the times. They feel that they are left alone to grapple with the change on their own and the support provided is not what they would expect.
Change is a journey and you can argue that well begun is half done. Are we really happy with half done? Should we be happy with half done? As per me, half done will cause more harm than good when it comes to change. I am sure all of us know this and most of us agree that we need better support to embed change on an ongoing basis. Change and transformation is too critical to be left to BAU. We need dedicated structures and processes to ensure that change is not just introduced but also embedded.
For all said and done, when it comes to change Half begun might be well done but it’s just not good enough !
For me the answer is ‘No’ but ask most of the change management professionals their answer might be a resounding ‘Yes’
All the change management programs expect the users/ internal customers to follow the same journey on route to change. There always are fixed milestone, pre-decided paths and pre-determined KPIs for success and all of these tend to be the same for all the users.
Why does it have to be that way? Why do we have to force everyone down the same path? If I am a user I will hate that. Every user is different and everyone adapts to change differently. Why then we assume a single path to achieving change?
Why can’t we apply the concepts of customer journeys to change management? Similar to customers taking different ways to interact with products, services; internal customers interact with change in different ways.
A quick Google search tells me that the concept of Change Journeys exists but there seems to be no application of it to large scale technology driven change programs. I feel it is worth a shot. At a minimum it will help change the perception that majority of change programs fail. If we know that people are going to take different paths to change then we will also know that their journeys are going to take different duration. We will be prompted not measure everyone against same benchmark and if someone takes longer to change they will not be seen as a failure.
Application of change journeys will also allow us to customise the support we provide for each of these journeys. We will no more have single communication or support structure for all the internal customers. Each customer group will get the change products and services they need at a time and in a format they find most convenient. The reason we do not do it now is simple
- We do not treat users as customers
- We do not market/ sell change
and as we discussed today we do believe that change is monolithic !
Last week I made a statement ‘ We need to change how we change’ and I promised that I am going to discuss all the things we need to change about the way we change. So here I am..
The second thing that irritates me about change management programs is that these programs are always communicated but never marketed or sold to the employees. If we are going to treat employees as customers then we need to market the change programs to them and convince them to buy products/services (benefits) delivered by the change programs.
I have a lot of respect for internal communication as a discipline but when it comes to change programs communication isn’t enough. We literally need the employees to buy into the change and the benefits that the change will deliver. I have time and again felt that internal comms teams are great with communication but come up short when it comes to marketing and selling. That is where I believe marketers can come in and help drive campaigns to sell Features, Advantages and Benefits of the change programs.
The whole marketing world is trying to target customers on a one-to-one basis. The marketing community struggles with data and what that data can tell them. That is why I feel every marketer should relish marketing the change management programs. You exactly know who the customer is. You know where your customer is. You have almost all the data you need about them. Why wouldn’t you want to take on such a campaign?
Yet I have come across very few marketing professionals working on change and transformation projects. Don’t get me wrong, there are many marketing professionals working in the space but they are not doing a marketing job on the change teams. (at least in my experience.)
There might be many reasons for the missing marketers but here is the real one as per me – Marketing is not given as much importance as all the other aspects of a change program. I might sound like a broken record here but that stems from the fact that we do not treat employees as customers so we do not really feel the need to sell to them!
So here is what I have told you yet
- We need to change how we change
- We need to treat employees as customers
- We need to market change
I am going to talk about many more aspects of changing how we change but that will have to wait for another week.
We do, we really do.. The more I learn about how we drive change in organisations, more I am convinced that we need to change how we change. This problem is severe when it comes to change driven by IT systems. Funnily enough, that covers each and every change programs now a days.
I am going to spend a lot of time about what we need to change but let me start with something fundamental – We seem to be calling internal customers as ‘users’. For the lack of better word, I hate that and with good reason.
If you ask me, most of the issues with our change management approach stem from there. The moment we say internal customers are ‘users’, the way we treat them changes fundamentally
- Customer is always right, but user… may be not! Users needs to be told what is right..
- We are obliged to deliver what the customer asks for, but users? may be not..
- If customers are not buying our products and services we question ourselves. If users are not ‘adopting’ the system, we question them with the assumption that they just don’t get it.
Just for a second, let’s assume internal transformation teams are start-up projects and employees are their customers. Do you think that business is ever going to be successful with the way they currently treat their customers?
I am sure I am not the first one who has thought about this and I will not be the last one. There is a big body of research done on why transformation programs fail and I am sure in that research someone somewhere has begged transformation teams to start treating internal employees as Customers. I am sure the IT and Transformation teams have the right intentions but something somewhere must be making it impossible to treat employees as Customer. More about that in the next post..