Navigating (Technology) Change Management

Many workers face the challenge of introducing new technology to a workforce that’s accustomed to outdated ways of doing things. Executives have to buy into the technology and users have to adopt it. So how can you best communicate your vision and strategy to improve workflow across your organization?

A session at the Esri Federal GIS conference in Washington, D.C., this week addressed that question and more regarding factors to consider when introducing new technology, such as geographic information system (GIS).

David Schneider, a Change Management Consultant at Esri, first spoke about three key areas of influence to consider when efficiently deploying a technology:

  1. Speed of adoption. As soon as an agency begins incorporating new technology, the clock starts ticking in terms of accountability or how quickly the technology proves its effectiveness. How quickly are people up and running on the new platform?
  2. Utilization from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective. How many people are using the technology and to what depth? Eighty percent of people only use about 20 percent of the functionality in technology, according to Schneider.
  3. Proficiency is often a key barrier. How well are individuals performing compared with the level expected in the design of the change?

Schneider explained that the key components of change management, or its framework, include communication, sponsorship, resistance management, coaching, and training and workforce development.

The process you go through when adopting a change individually or as a larger organization can be summed up in the acronym ADKAR:

Awareness of a need to change or a means of implementing a new way of doing things. Awareness is not enough on its own because it doesn’t guarantee a change.

Desire is probably the most consistent barrier because people are afraid of change and like the older way of doing things.

Knowledge is acquired as people become informed through their network about potential solutions.

Ability to carry out the change can vary based on the composition of the workforce and the resources allotted to training.

Reinforcement of the positive effects of the change can drive even more progress going forward.

“Organizations don’t change, people change,” Schneider stated. “When you get an aggregate of people changing, that’s when you see the organizational culture shift. It starts with understanding the mission, the purpose of the organization and talking about the business goals and objectives. What are the things we really need to get done?”

Schneider encouraged listeners to home in on the people side. Once you acquire a comprehensive understanding of the people impacted by the change, you can move forward with planning and execution.

To connect business with technology during the planning stage, Schneider outlined the following steps:

1. Build a change team that is educated on business requirements and workflows.

2. Conduct a strategic alignment with that team. There should be a dialogue, which will be more relevant with a team of liaisons.

3. Establish a sponsor network. “This is where you tie in the executive influence,” Schneider said. There should be a direct manager/supervisor. Rely on your sponsor network to communicate with your base for greater awareness. Fifty-nine percent of projects that fail do so because of lack of sponsorship, according to Schneider. “ We have to reinforce our sponsors too so they can continuously develop and share best practices with people who are leveraging that technology,” he added. “Look at gaps in sponsorship and strive to fill them in.” Effective sponsorship is present in a person who can act as a communicator, liaison, advocate, resistance manager and coach.

4. Know your stakeholders, or anyone who will use your technology. Understand the various roles in your organization and understand the misinformation or sentiments around the change to effectively build training opportunities. When you communicate, it helps to answer the questions why, why me, and why now. Make sure this is a dialogue, not just a push of information. Avoid technical jargon when engaging non-technical roles, and be creative when delivering messages. Make sure you have the right sender for the right message. Craft the message to align with the organizational level of the people you’re communicating with.

What initiatives are you thinking of introducing in your workplace? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

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