A very real challenge is found when tasked with managing change and keeping up with technology. The number 1 issue? Simple. Technology changes fast, and managing change is slow. Perhaps, this or something similar resonates as a problem in your organization. If it does, then consider the gap left behind in ignoring the below 3 measures.
1. A Clearly Articulated Platform
A clearly articulated burning platform specifies a clear need and justification to make a change. This must be communicated to everyone in specific terms that are understood. Otherwise, it goes over everyone’s head. Often, this just goes as “you understood.” Perhaps, to offer an alternative; “if we don’t change, our razor thin margins will evaporate, and we’ll go out of business.” The direction we go to get off of this platform is to a future state, and is a description of what we must become as an organization. For example, to delight our customers, we must fulfill what we committed to and it must work reliably. By taking the time to define this, a common understanding and shared need with a sense of direction will emerge, thus helping to close the gap.
But how do we get there?
2. Clearly Defined Change Possibililtes
Defining "Change Possibilities" is the input needed for members of the organization to expand the current “box” in which they operate within. Experts in the latest trends of technology, either from the outside or from the IT department, are brought into a cross functional breakthrough event. This event occurs before execution, but after direction is set with burning platform and future state from the leadership team. The expert cadre can then explain the new technology features and demonstrate the possibilities. This feeds the cross functional team to work on assignments to rapid prototype possible solutions. When cross functional teams collaborate to innovate, the solutions that advance to the future state become a shared understanding. How the systems will change becomes clear and actionable to stakeholders. The new product or service is integrated, with the core process to fulfill. No longer is the program manager the only one who understands how it all fits together. Everyone from the cross functional teams has a clear view of the way ahead to get to the future state.
3. The Execution Roadmap
The sequence of activity to synchronize solutions that are integrated across operations, sales,
marketing, accounting, and client relationship teams forms the roadmap. The familiar “critical path”
emerges, but instead of the critical path residing on an IT timeline only, a roadmap emerges. The roadmap outlines the phases of change with outcomes and critical cross functional activity – not just IT, but other functions completing deliverables to change. This synchs up with sprint teams delivering to functional customers the value in building block form to step-pivot-step-pivot to a new direction. Agile system development gets a workout with organizational agility through a path to the new normal. In other words, the functional owners must own it, and the product owners must build it.
To pull this altogether will require a leader who is able to bring the strategy, the functional teams, their leaders, and the experts together along an integrated path. This path includes a clear articulation of the burning platform, change possibilities, and a roadmap to synchronize the execution of the organization.
This will - or rather - SHOULD allow you to close the gap of keeping up with technology and managing change.
Andrew S. McCune
Senior Process Consultant, Engagement Director
Strategy Deployment, Operational Excellence, Change Management