Thursday, September 27, 2012

I'm A Change Manager... But Do Not Ask Me To Change. 3 Part Series

I was reminded this week during my travel that even when your business is facilitating change in organizations, change is still hard.
For those of you who travel regularly for business you probably read the USAToday newspaper. It ends up under or outside your hotel door every morning. For many of us it becomes a ritualistic part of our morning on the road. Well this week as I traveled I noticed the USAToday has changed... a lot. The content and the political slant are the same but the layout, logo, fonts and the headers are completely different. Things are not exactly where they were and now they have added new bits like the "tweet of the day." I have quickly developed a modest dislike for the changes. The format actually bothers me because it does not look like "my paper". My morning ritual has forever been changed and I was not involved or warned. As I have spoken with other business travelers they too were shocked by the major changes. And, what is up with that weird extra blank bit at the bottom of the page. But enough of the ranting, the real point is no matter who you are chances are you are not a big fan of change no mater what the size and scope. Change is even hard when it is necessary for survival.
So what can we as leaders do to facilitate changes and ensure they are successful?
Three things that I find that can help are project planning, risk analysis, and focused communication.
In this blog we will talk about the first of these, the project plan. It is a crucial step that many project that miss their projected return on investment treat as optional. In these sites they may start with a plan but do not edit the plan and keep it current. The interesting thing is the project plan meets the needs of the individual who is changing at every point in their change process. If you are familiar with Ken Blanchard and his Situational Leadership 2 model I believe the plan plays a key part in each of those four famous phases. It helps early on by describing the scope and elements of the change and answering how the individual will be affected. As the project progresses and the individual reaches what I call the valley of despair it breaks the overwhelming large project into small bite size task that can more easily be completed driving the change forward. As the individual hits the third phase of the change process the plan shows completed task or progress even when the overall change effort may have not made it to the point of generating a return on investment. This visualization of accomplishment is important to drive the project forward to completion. During this completion phase the project should be developing the projected return on investment and now the completed project plan is a trophy of sorts to take pride in the accomplishments and use as an example for others on how they can make the change as well.
Now if only I had seen the plan for the big change to the USAToday...

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