10 years ago, ideas like sustainability, resource traceability and inclusivity were buzzwords and nice-to-haves. The idea that these societal factors might drive business decisions might have been smirked out of the boardroom in all but the most political of organisations.
Fast-forward to 2022 and these issues are no longer on the fringe – they are becoming key requirements (or even hygiene factors) for business growth. For one professional services provider in the software industry, a good number of RFPs in the sales inbox include the request for “green” credentials of some kind, and recently a supplier requested a summary of the firm’s staff gender balance and policy around employing and promoting women and gender-non-binary individuals. All these requirements drive a level of change for businesses – whether relevant to the individual business or not.
Retailers require transparency around the issue of ethical sourcing not just of their finished product but for every item on the BOM as well. These changing requirements impact not only the procurement policies but the implementation, management, and reporting of compliance on all points – all of which must be executed in a way that is not too onerous for the managers and staff. How then can organisations manage these ever-changing requirements?
Communication is the key to effective change management
In a business environment where the goalposts are constantly moving, communication is critical. It’s not enough for the governance team to write new policy; the organisation must also find a way to communicate the “why’s and wherefores” of this change to the wider business. With reference to the previous example, when a company is required to provide “green” credentials as part of its pitch to clients, staff across the whole organisation need to be on board in understanding what this means for the vehicle fleet, waste disposal, energy, and resource use and even marketing strategy or content.
A well-designed communication strategy, partnered with a fit-for-purpose communication platform can make all the difference when implementing significant organisational change. Even an amateur can write compelling communications by following a simple formula:
- WHO are you writing for?
- What do you want them to THINK?
- What do you want them to FEEL?
- What do you want them to DO?
- State that in one simple sentence: “I want (these people) to think (one thing) so that they feel (emotive response) and act by doing (this one thing).
Communication within an organisation needs to be top-down and two-way. Leadership teams may be at the front of the change curve but shouldn’t assume that information is trickling down to other teams by osmosis. Similarly, feedback from those teams ought to be welcomed, with a defined process by which this can be shared back up the chain of command.
Tools like effective and engaging intranet solutions are vital for communication and engagement on various policies. Platforms like Powell Software’s enable gamification of content – a fun way to empower staff to buy into business decisions and implement the policies correctly.
Make business data accessible and easy to understand
Another critical focus for change management is the accessibility of key business data.
Any business change project will have a current status and a desired status and the progress between the two points must be visible and accurate – even for individuals at arm’s length from the detail of the project. Some large businesses are still battling with endless linked spreadsheets to convey vital information – unbelievable given what Power BI is capable of in terms of presenting complex data in creative and meaningful visuals. Others like WEL Networks in Waikato, NZ have developed an elegant mobile app that provides meaningful data for itself as well as for the end-users of its EV Charging Network, enabling them to review real time data on electric vehicle fleets, and making the switch to EV that much easier.
Business intelligence is not just about effective project or budget management in times of change. Data – and intelligent interpretation of it – is required to justify a business case or validate rollout or halting of a project at pilot/POC phase. A well-designed change management process will include robust testing and validation stages, during which business leaders can review the impact of the proposed change clearly in order to make sound decisions.
The difference between good and great
When selecting a technical partner to support your organisation on a change project, the most critical success factor is this: good tech providers take the time to deliver BUSINESS outcomes not technical ones. They’ll be interested in getting all your stakeholders on the same page before you start outlining the solution, they’ll be open to lateral thinking about the options available to your organisation, and they will be capable of multi-disciplinary delivery. Beware the one-size-fits-all provider – as the saying goes “when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail!”.