I recently was the keynote speaker for a tech conference in Phoenix and a CIO stopped me in the hallway to talk about a major tech rollout they were planning – he was worried because they were launching six technologies that all talk to each other AT ONCE!
I asked him if they were doing a change leadership approach for this and he said no and that was why he was worried. I told him he should be worried – not be scared BUT to see that any request to have people adapt to something new is a CALL for a change leadership approach that treats the change as a journey, an adventure with rewards, touch points, champions and more.
Most project management approaches have ‘change management’ as a component. The challenge is that equal attention of a change leadership approach is not considered for ALL projects regardless of scope. Any time a new project is initiated it creates change and if change leadership is not the foremost component of rolling out the project there will be challenges and hiccups to the project implementation.
The CIO I mention above had a gut feel that in order for this major project to be successful he and his team needed to have a very comprehensive approach that focused on getting people on board mentally, emotionally and structurally. Very often when a technology roll outs a lot of focus is on the technical aspects and the benchmarks that are linked to the logical aspects of getting the technology integrated.
My research on the future of work and change leadership has confirmed that what is missing for many organizations when it comes to navigating ongoing projects is spending equal time on the people aspects of the projects as is spent on the tactical and logical steps of projects.
Here is a list of change leadership opportunities components that could help the CIO mentioned above in his six technologies project:
- Create a change leadership plan that runs parallel to the project plan for the technologies.
- Communicate the change leadership plan to the entire company in a variety of ways (email/text/face to face/intranet/meetings)
- Create a change journey map in infographic format – easy to see and easy to understand and post it both internally but also create printable versions for work areas and for personal devices.
- Create or use an app with reminders and tasks for change leadership to keep everyone up to date
- Link the project to a fun theme and involve teams to create videos for prizes when they have accomplished a piece of the project. (Themes like The Amazing Race and games like Lip Sync Battle can keep the fun in the project).
- Establish your change leader champions and keep them inspired so that they can inspire others – provide one on one support/coaching.
- Educate and remind everyone of the change wheel and the responses people can have and provide behavioral guidelines for people to use as a resource when stuck in an aspect of the project.
- Acknowledge the challenges, the pitfall, the frustrations and provide resources, ideas and lessons learned from those situations.
- Refer back to and consistently update progress visually and verbally to all stakeholders – over communicate!
The above change leadership components would shift the CIO and his project from something he is overwhelmed and nervous about to creating something that will not only improve the technology project uptake within the organization but also provide a case study and a model of how to integrate technology successfully for their clients.