Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Sport provides a great theatre of triumph and adulation, gladiatorial and herculean efforts, marvellous skill and dedication; which can all inspire us to do better in our every day lives. If we peal back the layers of successes in the sporting arena we see commitment, perseverance, tireless devotion to achieve, routines that would make any of us "couch potatoes" wince and applaud their zest and zeal to get up off the canvass and continue to strive for their dream.
Transforming an organisation requires the same systems and structures that our sporting heroes demonstrate. We need to understand what it is we are achieving and why (key messages), we need to be inspired by great people (our leaders) and to have the support network to continually motivate us (regular engagement).
During your business transformation efforts, you will encounter barriers and challenges to executing your goals – don’t see these as failures or roadblocks, understand why these are occurring and strive to improve. The main barriers and challenges are at the end user level – they need to know why they are “in it, to win it”. Their perceived lack of buy-in is based simply on their lack of understanding the impact change will have on their daily lives. Following are some strategies to assist you in working through these barriers and challenges.
Develop meaningful messages
Avoid using rhetoric for your transformation agenda, as this will disenfranchise your user base. Can you imagine any elite athlete being told "if you win this match, you have won the tournament and you can rest on your laurels" – hardly; they will want to know where this tournament fits into the bigger picture of greatness in their chosen sport. Wins along the way are important to celebrate, but they are not the final piece in the puzzle.
If you speak the end users language and talk about the direct impacts to their daily lives, you will gain credibility to deliver your message – what is their motivation to achieve, align that to your transformation agenda and you will have a formula for success. Additionally, you want to be empathetic to what is going on in their environments – this change may not be the only one occurring; so understand that their resistance maybe frustration at the scale, scope and speed of change that is going on around them...how can you support them?
Take stock, evaluate your priorities and understand the environmental conditions your transformation agenda operates in…too many projects going on at once may lead to fatigue and burn out. It is important to have established a support network to assist users, and their Managers, to work through how the change will specifically impact them. Having key contacts within the organisation working with you, gives you insight into what is working and what is not.
Engage, engage and engage again
Being visible within the organisation allows you to gain credibility that you will address people’s issues and you are sharing the experience. Having “lived in their shoes” will provide insights that would otherwise be unavailable whilst working in isolation, in a project team. Elite sports people aren't simply told the plan to achieve and left to their own devices; they will have a network that will know when to engage with their stars, to give them encouragement to achieve…their support network is constantly engaged.
To truly understand your end users impacts, Design Thinking is a truly connective method of engaging with your users. Introducing the concept of Design Thinking into your project can help you understand how the change will impact users. Design Thinking is about having empathy for users and “walking in their shoes” and developing solutions for their pain points. Develop storyboards from your interactions; shadowing users’ daily activities can help you understand their distractions, their dislikes, tools they rely on and how your change can support them to improve their working lives.
Make sure you are regularly engaged with your end users, to understand what drives them and what barriers or challenges are in their daily lives – find the solution that will work for them!
Leading the way
Our sporting heroes need inspiration to achieve – inspiration is what motivates and drives us! Within your transformational agenda, leaders are at the crux of successful changes. Executives provide a vision for the future, Project and Change Managers provide the execution leadership and front line Managers provide the reality context for end users. Ensure you have a deliberate and well-structured stakeholder management channel, to deliver the key messages continually through the transformation journey and identify activities that will enhance your success rate.
Ensuring your leaders are equipped with the skills to inspire and deliver the outcomes your transformation agenda needs. Your leaders need support, just as much as the end users.
So now is the time to GO FOR GOLD!!!
Do you have effective strategies in place to deal with your barriers and challenges? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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