Change Management for Changing Times (Video, Podcast, Transcript)
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Change management is the art and science of helping people to prepare for changes or disruptions that are or will be occurring. The discipline of change management can seem daunting and complex, particularly when you are already in the midst of change and/or are short on time.
But there is a simple way to look at change management that can help you create meaningful impacts for your organization today.
Build Consulting’s Peter Mirus (Partner) leads a discussion about how to apply best practices in change management to both planned and unplanned changes in our world, in our business practices, and in our technology projects. He introduces an easy framework for change management, relating it to real-world examples. Peter also takes questions from attendees regarding how to apply this framework to their current business and technology project challenges.
If your nonprofit is struggling with change management decisions and methods, Build can help. Peter draws on years of experience consulting with nonprofits on technology projects to give you practical steps to implement quickly.
Peter Mirus: Hello, everyone! And welcome to the Build Consulting Webinar for April 2020, titled “Change Management for Changing Times.” Today I’ll be introducing some key concepts to inform how to conduct your business and technology change efforts. We had over 65 registrants for this webinar and I see we have currently about 21 attending live and several questions submitted which I will try to address in the course of this webinar. And please feel free to submit any questions you have as the presentation moves along, using the Q&A feature in the Zoom toolbar or you can do that at any time during the presentation or during the Q&A at the end. And you’ll also have access during the conclusion of the webinar to my personal contact information for any follow ups that you would like to send my way.
My name is Peter Mirus and I’m a partner with Build Consulting and your presenter for this webinar. Just a little bit about myself, by the numbers: I have 20 years serving all manner of nonprofit organizations ranging in size from small or local to enterprise size global organizations and across a wide variety of industry categories and mission orientations. And over the past eight years I’ve worked exclusively with nonprofit organizations. Over the course of my career in total I’ve worked with about a 120 clients now in both nonprofit, government, and for-profit spaces and I have three primary areas of expertise which are marketing, constituent relationship management – writ large as big as you can think about that concept is much as my coverage extends -, and information strategy.
Before we get into today’s webinar, I’d just like to highlight for you an upcoming webinar that we have in partnership with Community IT called “What Do Nonprofits Need From Their Tech Leaders?”. Technology leaders in nonprofit organizations come in all sorts and have all sorts of job descriptions according to the resources and the needs of the organizations they serve. So, some organizations have a CIO, others an IT director or manager, and sometimes the finance operations administrative or programs executive or manager takes on the technology leadership role. But what do nonprofits need from their tech leaders?
Build Consulting believes that there are few indispensable qualities or capabilities that all tech leader should have regardless of what they otherwise do or where they sit inside the organization. And that is what we’re going to be discussing on Wednesday, May 20th, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. You’ll be receiving an invitation to join that webinar, I think next think week via email so, keep an eye out for that.
About Build Consulting
Now a little bit about Build Consulting just in brief. We’re solution agnostic firm that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations to help them make data and technology decisions that support their mission; and we have a collaborative approach that empowers our clients to make a informed choices for their organizations. Build leads in the social sector, by providing a variety of different services, but all our services are designed to help clients transform themselves to better serve constituents of all types, including funders, donors, program beneficiaries, staff, volunteers, board and committee members, and the general public.
And we are very focused on transformation, which is why the change management topic today is an integral one to how we perform our work. And indeed, Build Consulting believes, and this is the reason why we were founded in 2015, the tomorrow’s best nonprofits will use technology to transform themselves and the world. But there’s a challenge that people need to think about before they approach technology supported change and that’s the 50% of nonprofit technology projects fail and by fail we mean they did not achieve the intended business benefit that was, that they were designed to provide.
And the reason for that often times is that the technology moves forward, but the organization does not, often times in today’s world there’s a technology solution that can be achieved at a relatively affordable cost for most nonprofit use cases. That hasn’t been the case in some prior eras, but it is today and so studies have shown that there are many other reasons why nonprofit technology projects fail and many of them can be addressed by better transformation and better change management to help support that transformation.
This is the slide that we often share with our clients in a variety of different contexts, it stands for old organization plus new technology equals expensive old organization. And we just want to show this to highlight that transformation is critical to your success in achieving the intended return on investment from your business change and technology change projects. And finally, we believe that successful transformation involves at some level leadership and governance operations, process, data, and technology. And technologies intentionally last and its place to so to indicate that unless you get all the things upstream of it correct, your chance of receiving a good return on investment from your technology investment is not going to happen, in all likelihood.
I would like to start up today’s discussion with you about change management in the context of this problem, that we make technology related changes without properly considering the impacts on the people affected, and so we don’t always get the results that we want.
And here’s an example of a problem from a client that we had in the past, “Our fundraisers insisted on moving to a new cloud based fundraising solution. They’re still unhappy and not using it.” It turns out the old system was not used because leadership did not set clear expectations for its use and no funders were involved in the – fundraisers — were involved in the implementation. So that’s an example of one challenge that we’ve seen in clients more than once.
And here is another one, “We implemented a new system to capture receipts for expenses and thought that staff would be thrilled because it was so easy. It turns out that most of our field staff, never actually captured receipts before so, this was added work and they are furious, I wish we had known that earlier.” And you can fill on the blank, from your own story — from your own experience it’s pretty common that nonprofit staff that had been in the field for any length of time have — do not have an experience of some sort of failed change or change that was more disruptive than it might other, always had been at their own organizations, I think everyone has one or two horror stories that they could tell.
So the solution that we would propose for this kind of problem is change management, and today I’m going to spend a little bit of time talking about change management and what it is and how to perform it. And then we’re going to dive into a specific template that you can use as a tool to help map out change management efforts for your own organizations.
And I apologize if you’re hearing any background noise on my end, the — I’m at home today and the trash trucks just drove by so we have that to enjoy, that should be over soon. My apologies.
So What Is Change Management?
Change management is the art and science of helping people to prepare for changes or disruptions that will be occurring or respond to changes that are already happening. And I actually added respond to changes that are already happening for this particular webinar, because let’s face, there’s a lot of crap going on in the world right now, that we’re going to experience as change regardless of whether we want to or not. And in our own organizations that has taken a — many different forms, but one of them are most common across all of the organizations that we work with is the transition of greater telework and all of technology and process and communication style changes that go along with that. And many folks are trying to figure out how to sort of retroactively bake change management into a transition that they already had to make on the fly some weeks ago. And are trying to figure out how to sort of remediate the effects of that, after the fact. So, we can talk a little bit about that today.
Change management is not making everybody happy about the change, it’s a frequent mistake about change management. It’s not about making everybody happy, but it’s about making sure that everybody is ready for the change. Of course, we want everyone to be happy, but we’re only, generally speaking, a fan of change in our own lives, that we can dictate. It’s just not in our nature so to speak, for us to be, as change tolerant as we might want to be or should be.
And so we’re going to talk a little bit about how we can try to help make people happy, but ultimately at the end of the day not everybody is going to be happy and they might — or they might realize their happiness sometime after the changes already occurred instead of being, really excited about it in advance.
Do You Need Change Management?
And so a lot of people ask “Well do I need change management? And what size of project requires change management? And do we need a change management office for our organization?” which is a question we get from some larger orgs and the simple way to answer that question is: if your change requires people to adjust their behavior in order to achieve your goals, you need change management. Now it doesn’t necessarily have to be change management, it’s called out explicitly as a discipline in your effort I mean in some senses, change management is most affected when it doesn’t need to be called out as a thing, when it’s just sort of baked into the process, and people have a great experience. But they don’t have to think about change management as a thing, while they’re experiencing that, technology change or that business change.
And change management is often talked about in a very wonky sense. There’s a ton of research and books and theories and frameworks out there for change management, but we simplified it into three relatively easy steps and that’s where we’re going to be spending the rest of the session talking about today, and I hope that you get a lot out of it and you’re able to think about how to start applying this within your own initiatives. And just be aware that Build Consulting is ready to support you if you have any questions and follow up. We’re happy to schedule a free consultation with you to help you, think through the first steps to, for implementing a Change management plan a little bit, in greater detail.
So, here’s the Build Change management framework, and there are three simple steps, you want to find the change, identify the impacts from that change, and then prepare for those impacts. This framework works regardless of whether you’re talking about a very small change or an extraordinarily large change. We’ll talk a little bit about that, in some examples, in a few minutes. But it scales very well, and one of the nice things is that, it can generally be well understood, at variety, at different levels by different people that are thinking about change within their organization through different lenses. So, it’s always a touch point that people can go back to whether they’re on the executive team or at the management level or sort of down in the tactical weeds. Even board members like to see plans outlined in this way when they’re aware of major policy process or data and technology changes that are going to be taking place inside of their organizations as part of key strategic initiatives. It’s very reassuring to them to see an organization to frame things in these ways.
Define the Change
So, first defining the change. Frequently people plow forward into a change without being clear on what is actually changing and so, the goal is to write it down and be specific about what it is and then share and gain agreement that, that change is actually accurately defined. So, gaining agreement means two things: it means ensuring that the decision makers and key stakeholders agree that this is the right change to be taking place, and for everyone else to ensure that they’re clear on the change that is coming. But that doesn’t mean everyone agrees to it, as we mentioned before, just that they agree that they — they agree that they understand the nature of the change, not necessarily that they agree that the change is necessary at that level. We can talk about, how that plays in actual detail — in a little bit more detail later on in actual practice.
One of our, registrants asked the question: “We’re undertaking a major change at our organization and is it important for everyone to be involved in the Change management process and get onboard — all of the stakeholders impacted users before we actually started the roll out effort or it’s important to just get the key executives and stakeholders on the onboard first?” and I think that we often talk about Change management starting with the assessment or the technology roadmap or, as early on in a system selection effort as possible. Because that’s where you really start to talk about the — talk to key stakeholders at various levels within the organization about their requirements for the system to be selected and what kind of change that would represent for them in their roles. And then possibly also to survey users in some way using SurveyMonkey if you have a broader group of people that you would like to provide input. And that helps unite them to the process, the intention behind the process, give an opportunity to have a voice so. I would say that it depends, if it depends from organization to organization and situation to situation, but generally speaking you want to engage people at some level, as early on in the process as possible, at this defining the change stage.
Identify the Impact
And the second stage, really is to identify the impact. So, you want to identify who is impacted in what ways and how big the impact is. And these could be identified as either groups, or individuals. And then you want to make sure that once you know, who is impacted and how, you’re ready to employ a number of strategies to ensure that folks are ready for the change.
So, first we activate leadership, which basically means in showing that leadership in the organization are prepared to be cheer leaders, supporters, and users of the system or other changes. And it is important that leaders and executives be users, because it’s very demoralizing to teams when their leader says well, I have a bunch of important relationships that need to be managed in our CRM system, but CRM is really for other people to use for me. So, they’re sort of divorced from the realities of the system, and that can be a difficult message for people to swallow.
Second, you want to determine who needs to be communicated with during the project, what messages, and through what mechanisms.
Prepare For Impact
And then finally under training and support, you want to ensure that there are appropriate training channels and mechanisms are in place to train the users and that if you have a business or technology change that your internal customer service or helpdesk functions are prepared to absorb whatever new requests are coming their way from both subject expertise standpoint and from a capacity standpoint.
So now we can look at all three together. You want to define the change, identify the impacts, and prepare for the impacts. So, there’s a lot that could be unpacked from each one of these and, we’re going to start to do that. And the way that we’re going to do that, is by looking at something that we call the change impact template. It basically is a three section excel spreadsheet that is color coded to the different sections of the change management framework; focused on defining the change, identifying the impacts, and preparing for the impacts. And so this is just a PowerPoint slide that highlights the different areas for you to take a look at quickly and just absorb and then we’re going to actually dive into this spreadsheet itself and start going through some of these examples and working within it.
Build Consulting Change Management Template
So, this is the spreadsheet in question. You’ll notice that, once you start using this, you can sort out and filter by each of the different headings and when you’re trying to use it as a tool throughout the course of our project that can be very helpful and I’ll talk about that in a minute. And I know this text is really small, so just in a moment here, I’m going to zoom in on the particular areas.
So it starts with defining the change, and often times that takes the form of writing down or naming the process that is changing and then also providing a simple description of what is included in that process. And this is what I think about, just in terms of level setting, you want to make sure that everybody is on the same page in regards to the thing that’s being changed.
In some organizations, they take this to a little bit more of a next level, by adding a couple of additional columns, having to do with identifying which constituent journey the process is in, and then what the process area is. So, this is for more complex projects, where you’re thinking about things in terms of stakeholder or constituent journey. In this case you can see down here, we’ll see an example of, this is a staff journey, this is a borrower a journey for allowing the application projects, you know, there’s a volunteer journey, thinking about your different constituent groups and then what path they walk through with the organization. And then how that divides into major process areas and then individual processes within those process areas.
So that’s an example that I wanted to provide earlier of how you could customize this and make it work for your own organization, to either add additional complexity or even just to resolve it to a terminology that works better for your own organization. So, for example if stakeholder or constituent aren’t comfortable terms for your organization, you could refine it to whatever term your organization is more accustomed to.
So, then as we start to identify the impacts, we want to list the group or the individual impacted and it’s important that if different groups are affected in uniquely different ways, then each group should have its own rule, we’ll talk about that a little bit more in a minute. But essentially what it means is that sometimes there’s two different sides to the same process. So say you have a process, where there’s an expense approval process as you see in example one immediately below, there is — I have illustrated one perspective here which is sort of the general all staff perspective, but there are also submitters and approvers and each of them have to go through and understand their process and that change that takes place might be different for each one of them, according to their role. So, you would want to spell that out in the group impacted and have a separate, same — it could be the same process and same process description, but at different groups that’s impacted in a different way.
And now in addition to describing the process itself, you want to make sure that you understand the nature of the specific impact on this group of the change. And then what the impact rating is. Now we suggest that when folks are starting to use this tool, they’re just designated into high and low; just as a simple exercise and you can make it as complicated as you want. We have some clients that go high, medium, low, we have some clients that have really insisted on going high, medium, low and then having some sort of in between categories like HM, for high medium or MH for medium high so, if you want to — and you could also do it on a scale of one to five where one is a low rating and five is a high level of impact. So that’s another example of how you can customize if you’re own particular needs.
And then I’m going to scroll over to the right here so, we can focus on, prepare for impacts. So, under leadership alignment, you really want to describe who is required to provide highly visible leadership and ensure that the change is successful. And as it says here, it can include members of the executive team, the project sponsor, and/or the manager responsible for this part of the business. You want to make sure that you describe, how and when this group needs to be communicated with, if the group requires training, if so what type and when, and under support, what technical or business support will be — will this group require to be successful? And as I said we’re going to go into some examples, as we move forward here, I’ve prepared three examples for us to review today.
And I think, I also want to just mention in brief that, if you find this template helpful, a version of it is currently available in the learning section of the Build Consulting website, buildconsulting.com. This version that you’re looking up right now is recently updated and we’ll be going up on the site to replace the existing version, sometime tomorrow. Regardless next week when we send out the follow up email to this, to our registered individuals, you’ll receive a link to the recording of this webinar, both in video and mp3 format as well as a link to where you can download this template.
Examples of the Template in Use – Expense Reports
So, the first example that I wanted to step you through today is expense approval change and it is relatively simple and straight forward one. The process description is that “expenses will be submitted by staff, approved first by the department manager and then by finance.” And in this case, we’re going to focus on the quote, “all staff view of this process”. That is the group impacted. And the impact description is just that it “will now be fully digital for the first time.” And it elaborates little bit, “Staff will submit their expenses and managers of finance will now submit approvals all in the same system.” And then there is some notion of why the impact rating was assigned as it was, this is related — rated low impact because there are no policy changes and staff are generally familiar with the user interface because it is the same, as the time sheet approval system.
Now some clients like to actually create a separate column for the impact rating rationale which they would provide, which is right here, to keep the impact description and the rationale for the relating, for the rating in different columns. I would say that’s a judgment call you can do that if you want to, it’s something that some organizations will prefer, and others won’t see the need for. If you want to keep it simple, you can just have it all within the one column as it’s indicated here.
And again, as stated we provide the low impact rating to this because of this stated reason. And I think it’s really cool that when you have gone through this entire exercise let’s say you’re rolling at a new CRM system and all of the changes that are attended to that, or even a new financial or ERP system and all of the changes that could go through all of the different processes for that. You could have a very complex template – filled out version of this template for that – and you might have a 100, maybe even 200 changes, that you needed to document and plan for. And it really is helpful at that point to be able to sort by process, to be able to filter by impact rating, because you definitely want to prioritize your resources towards the highest impacts, the greatest changes that are required of folks. And so this becomes sort of functional tool and as a side note that I will also mention that it’s really important that change management plans don’t, aren’t static, you create them upfront as best you can, but then you learn things over the course of preparing for actually going through a system or a business process role out, and you have to make changes as you go. So, it’s important that it would be a living document. And if you want you can always do version tracking on it.
Understand the Impact of Change
Somebody chatted in “Hi! I’m a research fellow and want to know within change management which side outweighs more on the impact the hard side or the soft side of people, the softer people side of change?”
I would say it varies, sometimes it — I can give you a good example, we have a project going on right now, where we’re rolling out a Salesforce based system, to over 10,000 users, 10,000 volunteers that are actively providing mentoring services to clients. And for them I would say that the level of policy and process change is low, because the — basically are just moving over existing policies and processes into a new system and a new interface. So, there are really, there is really a large focus on the technology side of the change helping people understand that by not really asking people to change their behaviors outside of implementing the same process use in the new system.
If you’re trying to undertake massive shifts and policy and process at the same time as well as the technology change, where the two are bundled together as is often the case, you can spend a lot of time, really helping people to shape their perception of the organization and how it needs to function as a group of individuals, around those new policies and processes and so there’s a hard technical aspect to that, but also a greater emphasis on helping people understand the mission oriented aspect of the policy and process changes, and how that affects their perception of their own value and their performance. I hope that answers your question.
So now we’re going to talk a little bit about expense approval measures for change. So first of all, we know that department managers will need to understand the new expense approval process and its value so that they can clearly and consistently reinforce it to their team. So that’s what needs to happen. And then the question is “How will it happen?” and you can see here that it says “this is will be addressed at the June 4th managers meeting” and it’s good to be specific about this. And some clients will also take the additional step once these things are defined they’ll be converted into tasks and into a task management system to make sure that it’s a little bit more executable for folks and are managing the project.
In terms of communications “staff will receive a focused email describing the change one month prior to the change taking place and a reminder email one week prior.” And I’ll take the opportunity to point out here that a lot of times communications about change that go out to your all staff type lists are buried inside of these regular newsletters, and we really found that when you’re talking about a priority change it’s really good to make the email or other communication subject matter specific, as much as possible instead of saying here is one of 17 things that we included in this newsletter or internal roll-up for all staff. So that’s just a little tip, try to make them single subject communications as much as possible.
We also — this organization for this change also wanted to provide optional training workshops that would be virtually provided to onsite and remote staff in the two weeks prior to the change taking place and you can read your eyes over the rest of the sort of methodology. I wanted to also mention here, if you’re not already familiar with — excuse me, I had a scrolling issue –, if you’re not already familiar with WalkMe as a product, it is a cloud based tool that is in the digital adoption platform category or DAP. And basically, what it will allows you to do is embed walk through tutorials that guide you through step by step through the use — to performances of the certain process inside of the system. So, it is a very dynamic way of doing sort of over the shoulder type training for folks, as they’re going through the process. And one of the cool things about technology like that, is that you can often use it to help produce your knowledge based articles as well, and then the steps that you put in the walk through will also automatically create screen shots for you, as you execute and export the steps so, that it’ll allow you to easily embed a visual for each of those steps in knowledge based article which is helpful. It really can help speed up the creation of your knowledge based article publishing.
And then they decided that the help desk when we prepared to address any issues user experience and technical questions will be addressed directly by that desk and then policy and process questions will be forward to the users, department manager, and/or finance resolution all correspondence will be tracked on the ticket. So, just another couple of points here one is that organizations often don’t define clear points of transfer escalation when somebody gets a technical support question that is really more than the nature of being a policy or process question that’s one challenge that I frequently see. And so, sometimes things get held up at the support desk or help desk over for a long period of time where people are uncertain as to where that question should go for resolution and what the turnaround expectation should be for whomever is addressing that issue. Another thing is that once sometimes the issue goes outside of the ticketing system it’s impossible to track. So, it’s really hard to tell if something gets kicked around, what desk, whose desk something is on. So, sometimes a desk – help desk – ticketing software has the ability to have what they call light agents in Zendesk, because people who aren’t full agents the opportunity to reply to an email and still have it tracked on the ticket. And then it gives you a view into where everything is all the time without people having to change their behavior beyond just using email.
So, this is one example and I was able to walk through it fairly quickly from end to end with the expense approval process and again we’re focused on describing the change that’s going to take place or defining the change, talking about who is impacted and how and to what degree, and then outlying leadership alignment communications in training and support measures for that change. And one of the nice things about this format is that you can always go back and when you’re trying to decide what you should do for particular change effort and say, well what do we plan to do for leadership alignment, what do we plan to do for communications, what do you plan for doing this training and so for support and it really is just a good mental checklist that you can run-through every time to make sure that you’ve covered your bases.
Examples of the Template in Use – Volunteer Onboarding
So, I think we had another question come in. Let me just check that real quick. I think we’re good. So, let’s go through another example now. I love scrolling in Excel, let’s see if can get an onscreen even so, there is. This is an example here, see at the top here a screen called Volunteer Onboarding Assignment. So, this is an example of a process within an organization where you had a volunteer applying — perspective volunteer applying to be a volunteer and then have to go through some sort of onboarding process in order to make sure that they really understand what the volunteer position is about and what it means to the organization and how it’s going to be conducted. So, as part of that there’s a volunteer onboarding process area and then within that Volunteer Onboarding Assignment. And the description is that “perspective volunteers will be on assigned to a non boarding team members on a weighted round-robin basis” so, that’s just again a simple description of the process.
And then who is impacted are the “volunteer onboarding team members”. And so, here is your description of the impact “previously the onboarding team managers manually assign to their perspective volunteers to team members, this process will now be automated to alleviate a bottleneck.” So, the challenge was that you basically had a bunch of volunteer applications sitting in a queue waiting for a manager to assign them out to individual team members. And now the system will automatically evaluate the caseload of all team members and assign the perspective volunteer to a team member with new case availability on a round-robin basis. And the impact is low, because it doesn’t really affect the caseload of the individual team members and they don’t have to do things differently, but it just means that those there is assignments that’s going to flow out more fluidly now.
So, then once you’ve identified the process that’s going to be changing and defined that and describe the impact and again, we’re looking at leadership alignment communications training and support for this. So, in this case we want to make sure that the onboarding team managers can help communicate the change to their team members and they will need to be attentive to any caseload concerns arising from this new approach. And in this case again, it says “these persons meaning the team managers have already been briefed and are prepared to be responsive” so, that’s good. This is an example of how you can update or acknowledge that a process has already started as this Change management impact plan was being created.
And then you can say okay, “The change will be presented to onboarding team members during the May department performance management meeting and reminders will go out via email the week prior to the change date, no training will be provided as no behavior change is needed by this group and then they help desk will be available to address any technical problems with the case assignment process and again challenges that are not easily addressed by creating a better understanding of the process by the team member will be referred to the volunteer director and technical program manager.” So, again that is the kind of thing of pathing of support request that you need to think about and really spell out in advance and hopefully have a system to track.
Examples of the Template in Use – Loan Application Submission: Complex Change
So, this is another relatively low impact and low complexity change, but let’s take a look at a third example that’s a little bit more complicated. And this is for a housing or a housing assistance organization that ran a loan application process so, developers and other parties that wanted to develop affordable housing would come and apply for a loan to be able to do the build. And in this case, we have a loan application submission. Now, it’s not an easy submission process like a registration form to register for webinar this is a multistep process involving over a 100 different points of data collection in order for an application to go through. So, this is a complex process with a lot of conditional logic and lot of field validation. And it’s being performed by “property development loan applicants that previously submitted the application as a PDF form attached to an email along with other relevant required documentation, the online applicant — application process will be entirely new to applicants representing a large change.” Now, it wouldn’t be a large change if every applicant this was submitting an application was a new applicant meaning that they had not previously gone through the process with the organization in another way before, but in this case there are many repeat applicants so, people are going to be asked here is this paper based even if it’s sort of digital paper based process and we’re going to completely change it to a different online process that has online forms and online workflow. So, the impact rating correspondingly is very high. And in this case, you know, touching about a 100 different institutions that were regularly applying for loans through the system.
So, as such this represents an extremely robust change management effort and you’re going to see how to address adding additional detail that might not fit readily inside of this template and then making sure where that detail list can be referenced. So, again giving the voice over for those who are listening to this recording primarily as this represents a major change for the “constituent journey, key board members, the executive team, the loan fund leadership, and the technical assistance leadership must understand and be prepared to sponsor the change.”
So, in other words this is an all hands-on deck situation from a leadership alignment perspective. And it says “loan fund Senior Vice President Jane Smiley”, a fictitious name, will be the executive sponsor and will take the lead on coordinating this alignment effort so, that is very, very specific and you can sort of sense the urgency and the — a way that needs to be behind this effort from leadership. And then under communication this change has its own communication plan see Loan Application Change Comms Plan.docx. “We will be leveraging all groups this should say communications my bad, we will be leveraging all the communications channels to support this effort, the communications team will be managing and executing this plan with content support from the loan fund and technical assistance”.
And in this case for this organization we had a change management task force, they consisted of cost functional teams and the communications — there was a communications team member on it, a loan fund team member on it, and a technical assistance team member on it and they were integral to leading and planning and leading, the change management effort from that task force and then liaising essentially with their teams to make sure that everybody was on the same page. Same thing for training, “this change has its own training plan” and again it’s in all hands on deck situation all of the available training methods to support this effort, this may include, knowledge based articles, life, trainings, in person trainings, online trainings, recorded training videos, walk-throughs and walk me your similar digital adoption platform as mentioned earlier.
So, there is a lot of different, you know, four or five major training options or channels that could be leveraged for this effort.
And then from support, the technical assistance team will provide support regarding the process, its requirements, the process, excuse me, regarding the process its requirements, is that you mean, I’m sorry. The “technical assistance team will provide support regarding the process for applicants.” So, in this particular organization there was a strong technical assistance function or field-ops function where the organization was helping loan housing organizations, that were applying for loans or property developers, prepare themselves to engage in that effort so, it was logical that they should provide this support regarding the process for applicants. But there might be some technical issues with the forms and the process and those would have to be provided through the help desk support, the technical help desk from IT. And then both types of requests will be managed through Zendesk that’s a typical ticketing customer service solution, we use Teamwork Desk sometimes and the technical assistance team is staffing up by two FTEs or full-time equivalents for 18 months to handle protected support ticket volume increase.
So, sometimes it is going to be the case that a particular change the response to or the change management effort will require staffing up and it’s important to be aware of that you can’t just smush new responsibilities constantly into everybody’s — onto everybody’s plates for both small and large change efforts. And I think that one of the fundamental floss that I see when approaching particularly major technology change projects in nonprofit organizations is that the organization teams doesn’t really do time estimates for people’s involvement and in the absence of that basically assumes that everybody’s time is infinitely flexible and of course we know that’s not the case.
So, a big part of more complex change management efforts particularly can be estimating the time involvement that will be required for individuals to engage and the leadership alignment, communications training, and support processes to make sure that people are both on the delivering end of those things and on the receiving end of them have time to engage. In other words managers may have to take things off of their plates or give them — tell them what they can prioritize at lower level in order for them to be able to participate; because in absence of that large scale changes particularly like CRM replacement or an ERP replacement that touch a lot of people in a lot of different roles and that big lifts will cause a lot of frustration and lot of burn out, because somebody sort of will say “Well, you know, you’re effectively asking me to spend eight more weeks, excuse me eight more hours on this per week and I already have a 50 hour week.” So, that’s a good recipe for a lot of discontent and burnout.
Conclusion and Q&A
So, I’ve been through three major, three examples here giving voice over to them as we’ve gone along and I hope that’s been helpful and you understanding a little bit more about how this process works and what it’s impact would be positively for your organizations and thinking about these things in a more structured way. One of the key questions that I get after introducing this framework and templates to client is “Well, what level of granularity should we define these processes and apply the process descriptions?” and the answer to that is almost always “You’ll learn as you go.” I think my suggestion to most organizations is, you know, go through the process get used to doing it, identify about 10 to 15 individual process changes that are going to be able to take place, see how it works for you defining it at whatever level of granularity is most comfortable for you and you’ll learn by going through that process, whether you’ve broken things down too specifically or too narrowly. There’s no real one size fits all answer to that.
Here is a question “Since so much of change happening right now cannot be well planned, do you have recommendations for how to adopt this process for our current conditions?” That is a great question and I did forecast that I would get to that. So, I think you sort of go through the same exercise being mindful of what changes have already taken place and to itemize them and then do a little bit of listening or take the time to do a little bit of listening and see what impacts those have had and what will need to be remediated. I mean I think the negative side of being in that situation is that you already had had to do things without the appropriate amount of change management perhaps or you haven’t been able to spend time thinking about it, because you have to make the change on the hustle. But on the pro side you have the advantage of getting some experience about how that change and done in an ideal way has impacted people. And you just have to be aware that you might have to do some backtracking and remedial backtracking and just be aware of how much you’re asking with any one group at one time.
So, it’s sort of a post op report so, you can do a good assessment on what — okay, what actually happened is we’re going through this process and using that to — and what changes were made and how was — how did it impact people and then if we had done it from scratch what approaches would we have taken in leadership alignment, communications training, and support to help people go through that effort and then what can we do at this point of time this sort of backtrack and go through that process. So, a good example of this for a lot of organizations is many organizations made this switch to Microsoft Teams really fast as a part of further in their telework effort and really figuring out how to do that well, on the fly. Same thing for adoption of tools like Zoom even Slack, Chatter in Salesforce any of these sort of remote communication and collaboration tools. And so, consequently it became sort of like a while rest in certain sense because people are creating all kinds of teams or channels in an ungoverned way. People were just trying to do the best that they could under the current circumstances.
And so, the question is well how do you sort of rein that in or walk it back, while still allowing teams to remain functional? And there are certain things that you can do to help out with that. But basically, it starts with the processes you have to say okay, well what are we actually going to do with this tool? How do we get our mind around that? How do we want to function in this way? To what extent should the teams mirror the makeup of our organization on a departmental or programmatic basis? Really go through the process of thinking through what you want people to actually do and accomplish in those tools and that is just defining the change. And maybe you need to sit with that for a couple of weeks or month or a couple of months and just make sure that you get everybody grounded in that. Define the change stage first before you even talk about how it’s impacting people or what you’re going to do to mitigate that.
So, I hope that answers your question. It’s sort of a — we’re all doing the best we can and we sort of try to introduce tools like this for changes that have already happened very incrementally; sort of get them in front of people, help people to be conscious of the idea about how to help them to get comfortable, will it help them to make space for it, and then try to formalize it. And I often say, you know, just chunk it out, if you’re not ready to think about the blue and green sections of the sheet right now that are for the two — second and third phases of a change management plan just focus on the process, just focus on talking about what is happening and what is happening in the tools and what should be happening. And really get grounded and then talk about, you know, impact and then after you’ve done that talk about what you can do in the other areas.
I think one of the things that this current pandemic has been helpful in is helping organizations to prioritize what’s really important to them. I think for all of us and for nonprofit organizations in general it’s very difficult to put things on your not to do list and there’s always more things that can be done and one of the things that I’m asking my clients to consider right now is whether they can do less well. And what I mean by that is can you do fewer things at a higher level and what is really important and what can we take off people’s plates to help make sure that they have the time to do the essential things to meet their essential obligations and to do it at a high level with the new tools that they’ve had to adopt quickly. So, I hope that’s a good answer to your question if there is still some lingering questions, I’m happy to take it in an offline conversation or follow up with you specifically, Lisa. So, thanks for asking that question.
So, we’ve got about eight minutes left and I’m happy to take any additional questions as they come in that is the conclusion of the formal part of this presentation. Again I’m putting the Build Change Management Framework up on screen for you to see it and have sometime to observe it and maybe take a quick screen capture if you want to get it right away and don’t want to wait for the distribution of the content when it becomes available. And then as I wait for other questions to come in, I’m just going to put my contact information up on screen here so, you have an opportunity to capture it and touch base with me if you want. You can also respond directly to the newsletter that was sent out regarding this webinar that should go to my address either directly or indirectly. So, if it’s more convenient for you to do that feel free.
Well, here’s a loaded question, “How do you engage leadership when only staff is interested in improvement processes?” I mean it always comes back to leadership doesn’t it. Almost everything that we can — almost everything that we can do in our organizations comes back to effective leadership. So, there are ways that you can manage up or help sell process improvement changes for leadership and I think it always comes back to relationships as almost every conversation about process improvement and data can and should. And what I mean by that is your organization has a specific mission and within that mission it manages and conducts relationships. And it’s really hard to sell or keep people’s attention on process and data improvements, if they don’t tie into serving those relationships better.
So, one of the ways to engage leaders and process improvement conversations or data quality initiatives is to say – is to make it strategically connected to the relationships of the organization managers and better for fulfilling those — the obligations or want to’s within those relationships for greater mission impact. I’m going to be doing a webinar on this topic yet to be titled to sometime in June so, keep an eye out for that. So, there is two – there are going to be two upcoming answers to your question, the next webinar in May is the tech leadership that I’ve talked about at the top of this presentation and if you didn’t join right from the beginning, although I think you did you can go back and note the topic. And then the one in June is going to be specifically about data and relationships and time the two together to keep everyone engaged and motivated while you’re trying to do process and data improvement projects or while you’re trying to sell those up or downstream from where have you currently sit and started the organization. So, I hope that was helpful.
Are there any more questions?
So, it seems like we’re pretty good on questions and answers for right now and so, I’m happy to give you back five minutes of your time. Again, you can always contact me directly if you have any follow up questions or if you’d like to schedule a free consultation or just sort of sit down and kick around some ideas that are specific to your situation and your concerns. Thank you everyone for attending and have a great rest of your week. Bye.