Under the best of circumstances, strategic change is a planned and managed process. In order to ensure you have effective change management within your team, you need to have stakeholder support, as well as convince your people to think outside the proverbial box.
There’s also a bit of a time challenge. Because of the fast-paced opportunities in any business, change needs to be equally quick and flexible so the team can remain relevant and competitive.
With stakeholders, you need to ensure that anyone who could possibly say “no” to your efforts (or influence employees to their point of view, such as popular managers on other teams) is fully onboard with your plans.
The key to accomplishing this is connection: Try to meet with stakeholders either as a group or individually, and have an open discussion on what support you need from them. Explain why you need their support for project success, and how that success could benefit them (as well as the organization as a whole). This will hopefully build trust.
Get Your Team “Outside the Box”
Unless you can get your team thinking in truly creative ways, their efforts at change will likely result in only incremental improvements, not the sweeping reforms you need. But how do you get your team to adopt an entirely different mindset?
Fortunately, there are a number of creative exercises that can unlock teams’ brainstorming power. (While there are a lot of Websites and books devoted to such activities, I’ve found a number of good ones on this site.) These exercises are mainly used in six different contexts:
- Business Objectives: Sales and branding
- Current Product/Services: Strengths, weaknesses, features
- Consumer Profiling: Demographics, societal trends, etc.
- Market Analysis: Trends, category, competition
- Capabilities and Constraints: Budget, manufacturing, services
- Brand Architecture: Identity
With open thinking, existing methods are retooled and new ways of thinking about solutions almost magically appear.
When implementing change management, consider the following:
- Starting at the right time with the right people is vital to effective change.
- Create change in increments, and be sure to include specific tasks/events at every stage of the process.
- Make sure your “change agents” provide the support necessary, and can rally staff at critical points in the process; they should also work to persuade others about the benefits of change.
- Help find allies and enlist support for change.
- Control information; different people at varying levels will need specific insights throughout the process.
- Act as a positive influence.