Skillful Change Managers Turn Adoption into Competitive Advantage
Businesses invest in IT because they expect a return on their investment. For those of us in IT, we get excited about the “new and shiny” because as technologists we love to see the latest and greatest and want to keep our skills fresh and relevant to the business and the marketplace. However, the “new shiny” doesn’t always mean the technology has a great value or a return, right now. In this post, I want to re-frame how we think about investment vs. value and how we use organizational change management to ensure that we are able to realize the value of our investments.
Effort is an Investment
If you ask a line IT person if he or she is adding value, the reasoning often goes, “yes, I’m doing all of this activity and I get a paycheck so, yes, I’m adding value.” In the broadest sense, they are and let’s assume if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there. In reality, the company is investing in them to realize the benefits of their activity in the form of deliverables. Deliverables matter because the company doesn’t maximize value until the activity is complete. Who wants to run a mission-critical enterprise application on a half-created VM? So, the notion of completeness introduces a demarcation between investment (paying for the effort to get to a deliverable) and value (we can now put that deliverable to work to make money).
Now, let’s expand on that. Organizations are made up of people and all of those individual investments add up to (hopefully) strategic investments to move the company forward, gain a competitive advantage, keep the lights on, and enable other aspects of the business, etc.
How to Realize the Value From Your Investment
What happens if a company invests in technology and no users show up? There’s no return.
Remember the line from the movie Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come?” If you build it and nobody knows about it, the people aren’t going to show up. If people don’t see it as having value for them, they will not show up. If people can’t use it, they will not show up. If people are not willing to tell others about it, others will not show up. It’s an ugly chain, but it happens more often in business than people realize, or perhaps, want to realize. The end of that ugly chain is shelfware, missed opportunities and unrealized value.
Adoption is about getting people bought in to using the deliverable the right way for the right purpose and with a high enough frequency to generate more value than the investment.
Skillful Change Managers are Key to Adoption
To create a strategic advantage for your project, it’s important to engage skilled Change Managers up front to work with the executive sponsor and build a sponsorship coalition amongst key executives and stakeholders. This will pave the way for all that follows. Keeping Change Managers engaged during the design and development phase allows them to establish communications with key stakeholder groups and provide nuanced feedback to development teams to influence the design and development for maximum adoption and value. When you include key adopters and influencers of adoption early in the process, they feel ownership in the success of the project which significantly increases the likelihood of adoption. Historically, this might have been done by a Business Analyst or a Product Owner, but Change Managers bring a discipline and set of practices that make success or failure less dependent upon the skills and insights of individual Business Analysts and Product Owners. They also offer a valuable counterpoint if the prevailing narrative is off the mark, which follows the axiom that there is wisdom in the counsel of many advisors. Before, during and after the go-live phase, Change Managers play a crucial role in helping users receive, use, and adopt what is being delivered. Longer term, Change Managers foster ongoing adoption and can identify and address areas of resistance – which often means understanding a gap between expectation and delivery and working with all parties to resolve them.
In conclusion, Change Managers directly address the process, people and strategic components of delivery and smooth the process of adoption and realization of value. Click here to learn more about our overall strategy.
If you would like to get your arms around how to create a successful digital transformation in your organization using cutting edge organizational change management methods, please schedule a meeting with our A-team.
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Doug Reece | Client Executive