Part One: Practical Approaches to Business Readiness

Change Management that drives initiatives forward and produces tangible results can seem like a daunting task at first, but it’s really a very intuitive and simple process. You can get as detailed and down in the weeds as necessary while staying in a simple flow. Use this basic framework to add a more formal structure to your natural problem-solving skills.

Define the Problems

What’s going wrong? What needs to improve? Define it in simple terms.

  • “We’re wasting too much time going back and forth getting information to fulfill these IT tickets.”
  • “We’re doing too much rework on these manufactured components.”
  • “We’re getting too many customer complaints on this particular service.”

Conduct Interviews
Conduct interviews with a cross-section of stakeholders. Don’t just focus on management. Look at people upstream, downstream, end-users, internal and external customers, new people, experienced people, frustrated people, happy people, and most of all the people on the front lines whether that means the people doing the work or customers interfacing with a service. Take time on the front end to listen to everyone and talk as little as possible. If the subject matter is complicated, record your sessions so that you have data to sift through later, and so you don’t have to go back for clarification.

Look for pain points
what’s frustrating people? Patterns may emerge that will highlight processes or procedures that can be analyzed for improvement.

  • “We’re not getting enough information up front when these complex IT tickets are submitted, so we’re having to chase people down and something that should take a day ends up taking weeks or months.”
  • “We keep reworking these panels because painters are not getting the paint on right the first time. Then we have to strip, sand, prime and repaint and it’s costing us a ton of money.”
  • “Customers keep calling and they can’t get the help they need. I can’t help them from here, I can only do A, B, and C, but they’re asking me for D and E and I have to transfer them. Then I find out they never got what they were looking for and it’s frustrating.”

Baseline Metric Data

Look for things to measure. Response time for call centers or IT tickets. Customer complaints. Rework. Safety issues like injuries or fatalities. Whatever the things are that are going wrong, find ways to measure that level of inefficiency. These metrics will point to areas to improve, from processes to training to management approaches and provide a baseline against which to measure any improvement efforts. While you’re at it, define the things that are working well too – you don’t want to change those, and you might be able to leverage successful attributes of these items with the areas needing improvement.

Iterative Change

Instead of making a huge effort, plugging it in, and then seeing how it does, make changes iteratively. They can still be rapid, but they can be staged to allow improvement throughout your process so they are ultimately as effective as possible. If your client is an agile environment, plug into it if you can. If you can’t do that build rapid prototypes, pilots, or agile designs to implement changes, gather feedback and data, measure, and improve in the next iteration cycle.

Measure as You Change, Gather Feedback

Stay in constant contact with all stakeholders. Solicit feedback and listen to what people are telling you. Compare that against any changes in metrics you’re seeing. Validate a given direction or a change in direction. Adjust as necessary with each iteration.

Gather and Validate New Metrics

If you’re moving in the right direction, metrics should be steadily improving over the lifecycle of the project, even with a setback or two. As you continue to make adjustments and measure the effects, you will eventually get to a new baseline that you can compare against the original baseline. Use this new baseline metric to validate the effort you’ve just completed, and to help identify, define, and scope future efforts.

Coming soon: Part Two – Implementing a new Learning Management System

In our next post, we will be highlighting a practical example of how these practices were applied in the change management work stream of a new LMS implementation. If you have questions or are interested in learning more about practical approaches to business readiness, please contact us at info@stccg.com.

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