Change and holidays

Luke Evans

Luke Evans is the project director at DT with more than 15 years’ experience in IT, working in the United Kingdom, Australia and United States. DT is an Australian creative technology agency that has been working with brands around digital strategy and marketing since 1996. The team covers platforms and campaigns, ads, apps, websites building, social campaigns, and aims to help clients solve customer experience problems. DT is a member of OgilvyOne Worldwide and owned by STW, a marketing content and communications group. Clients include Bunnings, Officeworks, Tourism Australia and NAB.

Change is as good as a holiday, right? On the surface, the thought of a holiday is great. After all, you’ve worked hard and should be rewarded. But who likes packing? Who likes taxis and airport security? Who likes crying children on a 14-hour flight?

The end point of change should be bliss, even if the journey isn’t. But in all industries and indeed life, change is inevitable. It’s how you go about managing change that defines your success.

The documentation for change management is vast and detailed yet best practices aren’t widely adopted. Changes I have implemented across a range of organisations, from investment banks to not-for-profit organisations, have been complex and challenging, but highly rewarding. It hasn’t always gone to plan, but to know you have managed change to benefit individuals and organisations is gratifying.

Whether you work in a professional services or consultancy area pushing new internal approaches, a financial institution contemplating a new digital platform that requires widespread engagement, or a retail organisation about to embark on a new or updated ecommerce venture, it’s vital to implement and evaluate change at a strategic level. Getting a grasp of the strategic change considerations will go a long way to being successful in a field that can be highly complex.

To assist any peer in contemplating a change program, there are six guiding principles you should consider:

The first is understanding what it really means; if it’s not familiar, immerse yourself in the concepts, principles and source information from leaders in this field. Essentially, change management is the process of transitioning from current state to future state.

The second step is to understand why change is important. What are the business drivers? What are the objectives as to why the change is needed? These will serve as reference points when qualifying why change is occurring.

Doing this as you progress through the change lifecycle is going to be important. It’s also vital to define the success metrics of any change that occurs (such as the change is occurring because there is a 10 per cent reduction in operational costs). This is what gives you the return on investment (ROI) for the change. Often, business cases are written to outline the justifications for change.

The third step is to know who wants the change and who can make it happen. Naturally, many talk about change, but few act on it. To ensure successful change, there isn’t one individual for you to focus on, there are many. Change may be initiated from the top down, but it isn’t about the following the Pied Piper, you have to bring everyone on board.

Change can come from the bottom up as well, however being the voice in the crowd can present larger challenges. One’s ability to communicate, be it written or verbal, is arguably the most important trait.

The fourth component of managing change is preparation. Analyse the tools, such as software applications, that can assist in change management. Tools can come in the form of books, Web-based applications and alike. Look at where the change should and can occur first and plan for success. Do your research by industry, location, capability and culture to understand the challenges you’ll face. A steering committee can ensure ongoing oversight if the change is significant.

The fifth principle is execution. Much like proof of concepts or prototypes, drip feed change before it becomes all encompassing. Communication plans/strategies/roles and responsibilities provide structure and confidence that execution will be effective. As previously mentioned, make sure you are continually tracking against the business case or the justification for the change.

The sixth and final principle is to monitor change post-execution. Old habits die hard, so knowing all the effort hasn’t been in vain is important. Share your learnings with others and adhere to service management principles.

Of course, there will be naysayers at various levels. It’s best to prepare yourself for this. However, the continual selling of benefits will result in greater consensus. Communication and collaboration will mitigate the concerns of those who doubt its direction and validity.

Most importantly, think about how you can be more strategic when embarking on your next big trip, and make the journey as rewarding as the destination.

Tags: change management, digital strategy, leadership strategy

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