Top Five Conversation Starters to Get Buy-In for Change Management

When talking to senior manager and project leaders about the importance of change management Tim Creasey, Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer reminds us that we probably shouldn’t be talking about change manage in our early conversations but instead focus on what they care about.

“If change management is seen as an optional add-on rather than a vital contributor to success then start a conversation around what needs to be done to achieve organisational benefits and project objectives and what resources do we need to capture the 50%, 80%, or 100% of our project’s objectives that depend on people?”

Here are Tim Creasey’s top five conversation starters….

Question 1. What is the project trying to achieve?

This is a two-fold question and one that goes surprisingly unasked. It isn’t just useful in outlining the value of change management; it is also critical for project teams and leaders to understand in general. After all, if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve, how will you measure the effectiveness of your project?

You can get more concrete answers to Question 1 by asking these next two questions:

Question 2. What are the organisational benefits of this project?

Organisational benefits are the higher-level reasons for implementing the initiative in the first place. These benefits could include increasing revenue, achieving compliance with regulations or strengthening customer satisfaction.

Question 3. What are the specific objectives of this project?

Specific objectives are the outcomes this project will produce. These are usually specific and measureable outcomes that ultimately lead to achievement of the organisational benefits. Examples of project objectives are “all users tracking their sales leads in the new CRM system” or “customer response time shortened from three to two days.”

Connecting the people dependency

Once you have defined the benefits and objectives of the project, you can move on to tying those objectives to people.

There are two elements to achieving each project objective and organisational benefit that you’ve defined in the questions above. One part of achieving the benefit is the technical solution: building the software, installing a new system, etc. The other part of achieving the benefit is the people side: the individuals impacted by the project changing how they do their work. A combination of these elements, the technical side and the people side, is required to achieve the project objectives and organisational benefits.

So how do you figure out how people-dependent these benefits and objectives are? Take a look at each benefit and objective and ask these two questions:

Question 4. What portion of this benefit depends on adoption and usage?

Some projects have very low dependency on people adoption and usage for their objectives because the change is primarily technical in nature; for example, increasing server storage. On the other hand, many projects have a high level of dependency on people adoption and usage. For example, “streamlined communication” will depend highly on the people who need to adopt the new communications practices actually doing their job differently.

Question 5. What percentage of this benefit will we get if no one changes how they do their job?

This question is what we call the “null hypothesis,” and it allows us to fully understand just how people-dependent a project’s objectives are.

Depending on how people-dependent a project is, you might get no or very little benefit from the project if no one adopts and uses the solution. The answer to this question is usually between 0 and 20 percent. For your strictly technical benefits and objectives, this number could be very high, between 80% and 100%. But for most of your benefits and objectives, you are likely to only capture a very small portion (between 0% and 20%) if no one changes how they do their jobs.

In reality, it’s unlikely that no one will change their behaviour at all. However, by asking the question, “What if no one changes?” you can cement how important driving the people side of change is to the project. It also gives you a baseline for how you can increase the percentage of benefits you’ll capture by increasing adoption and usage with change management.

How did you go?

You now have the questions to ask and surprisingly you haven’t even mentioned the words – change management.

All you have done is opened up a conversation to help key influencers in your organisation understand that in order to fully realise the benefits of most projects – the people side i.e. usage and adoption, can’t be ignored.

Next steps?

Now you’ve had the conversation. Do you need help giving your people the skills to manage the people side of change? Call us on +61 418 205 182 or +852 9441 2932.

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