One of the biggest change decisions I ever made was to move to the UK in 2015. It required research and guidance from several friends already based in the UK.
I identified my own “change agent network,” to advise and lead me on market reliability, job requirements, housing etc.
Presumably, most of us do similar “change networking” when going through personal change. How much support we need depends on our research and preparation.
So, why is it that I’ve seen many firms miss the importance of change agents when they adopt one of the market’s most innovative business software application suites, Microsoft Dynamics 365?
One of my first roles in the UK was as a technical project manager supervising the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX, an ERP system that I had heard very little about whilst living in France. It made me question:
In an environment where I saw constant confusion by team leaders and second guessing by project managers, it became cause for concern. It was also concerning that this conflict jeopardised the success of a software migration that was signed off to improve business efficiencies and make the business on par with market requirements.
As Scott Berkun (renowned writer on leadership and creativity) said, “Innovation is significant positive change”: positive change that I did not see then as a technical project manager and am still not seeing today on most IT-system implementations as a change manager.
As far as I am concerned, decision makers tend to focus on the wrong areas.
As a change manager, I am an advocate of people-powered change implementations rather than solution-delivery focused. An outcome-focused change is in a better position to strongly influence and drive business outcomes. Research has shown over the years that more than 59.3% of systems implementation projects do not meet their business objectives (Prosci, 2016).
People-powered change means engaging anyone effected by new and innovative change. This should happen from the beginning and throughout the project lifecycle, to enable a clear path to success. To do this, businesses must acquire support and engagement from leadership teams – who have business objectives at heart and who create momentum through the optimisation of resources for quicker decision-making. This should be the first criteria to consider when putting together change agent networks.
Prosci (Roles in Change Management, 2017) also argues for “internal consultants” to have an active change role within organisations to ensure successful change and to instil ownership through the development of sustainable partnerships.
When change agent networks are properly implemented, organisations and teams can derive significant business benefits. They have three major focal points:
For businesses to observe constant and steady results, change agents must play a double role. They need to encourage end-users to visualise the “what’s in it for me?” aspect of the imminent change, and accompany leadership and senior management in promoting their vision of the change, thus reassuring end users before, during and after the change.
Maslow’s pyramid of physiological needs supports this view. Humans are innately more inclined to adhere to change once they can clearly outline their own personal gain.
That is why projects are still failing today. Project managers and decision-makers have forgotten that humans are the most important factors of whether a change is successful.
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