When it comes to implementing new initiatives at your facility, your motto should often be: 50% is better than none.
Now, for those of us who tend to be perfectionists, that sounds like a slap in the face. How could I think of standing up a program I know isn’t the best?
Many organizations are reluctant to implement new initiatives because of hurdles in adoption or uncertainty in the outcome. However, when something is critical, you're better off moving forward and getting those that are "convertible" on board than working tirelessly to slowly move the difficult ones in your direction.
Here are some things to consider when you’ve decided it’s time to make some changes at your facility.
Are Other Changes Happening Simultaneously?
Timing is everything.
According to a study by the Katzenbach Center, 65% of respondents reported that “change fatigue” – the exhaustion that occurs when people feel pressured to make too many changes at once – was a problem.
Therefore, if your initiative is important, make sure it’s implemented at the right time. That means not when or soon after another change in process or culture is being or has just been made. You might have to reasses company-wide priorities or even wait a bit, but that patience will mean your initiative is more likely to be adopted and successful.
Consider also advancing the new initiative in incremental stages, as described in the final section below, or in stages that can be paired efficiently with other initiatives in progress. It is perfectly reasonable to implement partial changes, as long as communication is clear along the way and each step leads closer to the end goal. Above all, you want to ensure there are no conflicting or incompatible changes that could create confusion, fatigue or loss of faith in leadership.
Do You Have a Majority?
The network effect can work to your advantage. If you can get a majority of your team on board, others will follow. That’s because when you have a majority, those in the minority have more incentive to get on the winning side.
Consider a new communication platform, for example. In order for it to be effective, your team must use it, you need everybody on board. However, if you can get a majority of your team to use it, and ensure that they are communicating essential information there that is needed for others to fulfill their duties, the rest of the team will fall in line. Of course, this only works if you are holding your team accountable for their outcomes.
Is it Sustainable?
Do you have the manpower, skill set, and/or wherewithal to ensure the initiative is sustainable? Oftentimes, companies lack the skills to ensure change can be sustained over time and the initiative falls short before realizing the intended benefits.
Review what you’re trying to accomplish, what roadblocks could hinder progress, and how you could remedy those situations and keep pushing forward. If it is a revenue-generating activity, consider when the revenues will surpass investments and begin to finance itself. Cost-saving activities can be considered in the same way for analysis – "a penny saved is a penny earned" rings true when you need to understand the timeline for when the financial or resource investment will yield positive outcomes.
You should have a clear understanding of the financial implications and the resource allocation that will ensure successful change implementation.
Are You Tracking Your Progress?
Another all-important aspect of change management is to continuously track your progress. According to the Harvard Business Review:
Companies should formally review transformation projects at least bimonthly since, in our experience, the probability that change initiatives will run into trouble rises exponentially when the time between reviews exceeds eight weeks.
They also note that complex projects should be reviewed every two weeks and more straightforward initiatives every six to eight weeks. Why is this important? “Scheduling milestones and assessing their impact are the best way by which executives can review the execution of projects, identify gaps, and spot new risks.”
In order to do this, you must first break down your project into reasonable stages. For example an operational software project could be broken down as: discovery, process development, technology development, deployment communication, management training, front-line training, tracking and maintenance. For each one of these stages, you will need to dilligently evaluate goal, process and completion. These stages will change with each project, but planning ahead of time will keep you from getting absorbed by minor details, which can derail you from the path to success, and will allow you to stay focused on the big picture.
By asking yourself these four simple questions, you’ll be better able to assess the right time to implement your initiative, figure out how it can be successfully adopted by your team, understand whether or not it’s sustainable (or if modifications are needed), and recognize what you need to do in order to keep it on track.
What other important change management tactics do you employ before launching a new initiative? Please share them with us in the comments section below.