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Change Enablement is a Bunch of Theory and Fluff

The Daunting Sales Meeting

I’ll never forget the sales meeting. As we walked into the conference room, there are about 10 folks crowded around the table politely smiling as we shake hands and complete introductions. As usual, this is the toughest part of my job (well, maybe not- but we’ll get to that in a later post). The butterflies have been in my belly all morning, and I’ve realized the sheer number of coffees I have consumed has likely moved me beyond charming and witty to anxious and sweaty. My colleague (the real sales guy) kicks off the meeting. We were there to discuss Change Enablement.

Yep, change enablement, the often perceived subjective, theoretical, intrinsic, almost immeasurable, and waste of good dollars change enablement. I was there to convince this very large, prestigious educational organization why they should invest in it (and invest in me for that matter). They were in the process of upgrading their ERP system and had had a bad experience with the initial implementation.

The Regrettable Past

Naturally I asked what happened last time? Tell me what went wrong and what went well. And you know what? About 99.9% of the failure points were attributed to …. The PEOPLE. Not the technology selected, not the tools, not the things, it was the PEOPLE. They failed to ensure the PEOPLE and the TECHNOLOGY crossed the finish line at the same time.

The Game Changer Question

After some time gaining some insight into past challenges, they mentioned they found this concept of “change enablement” to be “a lot of theory and fluff.” They wanted to know how we would successfully execute and how we would convince the Executive Committee to invest their dollars in it. I asked the underlying question: “How much of this project’s success depends on people embracing and using the system effectively?” The answer: 100%. This, my friends, is Change Enablement. Helping people transition from whatever it is they are currently doing to whatever it is they want or need to be doing to achieve goals.

5 Misconceptions about Change Enablement:

  1. We don’t need it.
    1. Good luck!
    2. It seems as if the companies I have worked with never have the budget to do it right the first time, but find it when they need to do it over (at a much higher cost and typically significant collateral damage).
    3. “Prosci’s latest research found projects with excellent change management were six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management.”
    4. A McKinsey study examined many project variables and in particular, the effect of a Change Management (CM) program on a project’s ROI. The study showed the ROI was:
      1. 143 percent when an excellent CM program was part of the initiative;
      2. 35 percent when there was a poor CM program or no program.
  2. Change Enablement resources aren’t necessary until implementation time
    1. Change enablement resources are critical at the start of a project to assess and diagnose the underlying problem (not just the symptoms).
    2. The change enablement strategy should stem from early data collection and analysis such as customer experience investigation, requirements gathering, leadership evaluation, etc. Data should drive the overall strategy and interconnect with the project plan.
  3. Our internal resources are capable of handling the change enablement tasks
    1. This is almost never true from my experience. Internal resources typically do not have the time to invest nor the right skill set to execute the change strategy. However; collaboration and co-authorship is key to overall success.
  4. Change Enablement is only for very large-scale projects with big budget
    1. This is like saying Project Management is only for very large projects with big budgets. Just like any project, effort for all resources and activities scale to match the size of the project. Change Enablement is no different.
  5. Technology will fix it.
    1. What good is a technology investment if no one is using it correctly or at all? You can develop the most amazing tool and process and if employees don’t adopt, embrace and utilize it you have wasted your time and money.
    2. Technology can be an important aid for solving challenges, but it is the people that really drive the value of the technology and the overall success of the project.

Keep an eye out for the next post in our Change Enablement series:

10 ways one client is killing it with Change Management.

About Erin Mackenzie

Erin is a Director in Statêra’s Business Transformation practice. Erin has over 15 years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies derive quicker value and reduced risk from their technology implementations by focusing on the ‘people’ side of change. When she’s not inspiring adoption, she is running (slower than turtles trudging through peanut butter, but running), and enjoying time with her 2-year old daughter Ella, supportive husband Todd, and loyal canine companion Buckley.