How to proceed with Change Management specifically

Hello everyone. Last time, I wrote the overview of “Change Management” which is one of the soft skills that support problem solvers. By comparing three representative approaches of Chain Management (Kotter’s 8 Steps for Leading Change / Change Acceleration Process / ADKAR) and confirmed that there are many common parts.

This time, by mapping to how to proceed with “general problem solving (as-is ~ to-be) and with Lean Six Sigma” that I have written so far, I would like to write a little more specifically the tasks that need to be added as Change Management.

1. Tasks that need to be added as Change Management

So, let me map first.

Mapping Chain Management tasks to how to proceed with general problem solving and Lean Six Sigma
Fig1. Mapping Chain Management tasks to how to proceed with general problem solving and Lean Six Sigma

As you can see, much of what is included in Chain Management approach is actually also included in “the way of proceeding with general problem solving (as-is ~ to-be) and Lean Six Sigma”. So what is the task that needs to be added as Change Management is, in one word, “communication to Gemba/employees”.

I think when we do problem solving, in many cases, we need to change the way we do business, but most of the people in Gemba don’t want to change the way they do business (lol). There are some reasons behind it like; even if they were told that the new way of doing things would be better, they would say, “It’s too much trouble to change things”, “What if the change causes problems?” and so on.

Therefore, it is necessary to continue polite communication here, and it is important to do it with “soul” within the company. Last time, I wrote that from consulting firms’ point of view, “Change Management isn’t the main one, isn’t it somehow a shadowy existence?”. That is because there are many areas where the 3rd parties can’t handle.

2. Specific way of proceeding with communication as Change Management

From here, I would like to write about the communication that should be done as Change Management, by dividing into a) Contents, b) Method of Communication and c) How to continue communication.

a) Contents of Communication

Contents that should be communicated to Gemba/employees are “Vision” in Kotter’s 8 steps for leading change.

According to Kotter, Vision is “a description of what the future should be like, and a clear or implicit explanation of why people should strive to build that future”. It’s somehow vague, but that’s what a vision is (lol). That said, you have to make the content “resonate” with employees as much as possible.

An example of relatively easy to understand is the ongoing war in Ukraine right now (as of December 2022). War naturally needs a just cause, and this just cause can be a “vision.” The Ukrainian vision is clear as “Russia’s military advance has no legitimacy, and Ukraine must defend its sovereignty”. Information warfare is active in this war (and not only in this case), but all communication from the Ukrainian side can be said to be based on this vision.

If the “clear and present danger” is as clear as in Ukraine, the vision will be extremely clear. But for many cases in which problem solvers like you are involved, the sense of urgency would not be so clear, right? Then what we should do? Again, it is recommended to “involve Gemba members”. Ask them to come up with ideas on how to communicate.

The specific way is to have a vision-making session in the workshop format which I posted before. For the contents of the session, we can use the “2 sided method” in the facilitation technique that I posted earlier. Divide the whiteboard horizontally to write (by implementing the solution to this problem) “things that you want them to be increased in 1 year” and “things that you would would like them to be decreased in 1 year”. Then, use “silent brainstorming” to have each person write down their ideas.

"More" or "Less" (Image)
Fig2. “More” or “Less” (Image)

This is a method called “more or less” among the 2 sided methods. Summarize the ideas the team came up with into a sentence. “By implementing this problem solving solution, we will achieve xx in one year and aim for xx, etc”. That becomes the vision. Since we will be incorporating the thoughts and words of the Gemba members, I think that a “feeling of earnestness” will come out.

Here’s a video that will help you learn how to write sentences. This is TED Talk by Simon Sinek, known for his leadership theory (about 18 minutes). It’s a little long, but it’s very interesting, so if you have time, please take a look (proceed to below if you’re in a hurry).

The point of this video is the theory of “Golden Circle”, and people tend to talk about “what” -> “how” first, but they should talk about “why” first. Some examples are shared in the video;

Example 1 – PC: [Common Description] Our computers are great, beautifully designed, easy-to-use, and user friendly. Would you like to buy one? -> [What Apple would say] We do everything we do with the belief that we can change the world, and we believe there is value in thinking differently. The way we change the world is through beautifully designed, easy-to-use and user friendly products. You’ve got a great computer. Would you like to buy one?

Example 2 – Tivo (digital video recorder for home use): [Explained by Tivo] A TV that allows you to pause live shows, skip commercials, and rewind. It remembers what shows you like without asking. -> [Simon’s Correction] If you want to take control of every aspect of your life, here’s the perfect product for you. Pause live shows, skip commercials, and remember your favorite shows, etc.

What do you think? Certainly, even if you say the same thing, just changing the order a little will make it “resonate” to mind.

b) Method of Communication

Once the content is ready, it must be communicated to Gemba/ employees. Communication methods include e-mail, intranet, in-house newsletters, and depending on the company, there may be a “town hall meeting”.

Town hall meetings, which are often held at global companies, are places where top management visits each site, listens directly to voices from Gemba, and responds to them. If there is such a place, it would be good to talk directly from the top there. If not, It is recommended setting up a meeting like this.

c) How to continue communication

In order to establish it in the company, it is important to continue communication through the various channels mentioned above. At the same time, it is also recommended to continuously conduct “recognition” of employees.

Recognition is also often done in global companies. It literally means “recognizing (employees)”, but the point is to reward employees.

For example, if there is an employee who continues to implement the problem solution for a certain period of time and achieves a certain result, the employee would be awarded a shield or certificate, or in some cases, monetary benefits (ex. Amazon card, etc). Then, the scene of the awarding would be published in the company newsletter, or in the town hall meeting mentioned above, the top management directly provide the award. This will motivate employees to say, “I want to be awarded too”.

3. Generate short term wins ~ Sustain acceleration – Recommendation for “Small Start”

Lastly, I would like to touch upon “Generate short term wins” ~ “Sustain acceleration” in Kotter’s 8 steps for Leading Change.

In order to get Gemba and employees to accept the change, it is effective to “actually do it and show the results” along with communication. For that reason, I recommend that you start small by dividing the target area into smaller areas, rather than suddenly rolling it out company-wide. For example, when it comes to improving the sales process, instead of suddenly expanding it to all sales representatives, start small by dividing it into specific areas or customers in a specific segment to deliver early results.

The results will be communicated extensively within the company to raise the level of employee acceptance, and then lead to company-wide deployment.

Recently, this small start is also called “POC”. This is an abbreviation for Proof Of Concept. So, this POC is a recommended way to proceed, but I often hear this recently, when people start with the slogan of “Let’s do POC for the time being,” but don’t move forward from there.

When we’re doing POC, we somehow feel like we’re doing something, but if we go beyond that, it becomes a hassle to apply for investment within the company, so it’s a pattern to end it without a hitch. To avoid this, it is important to clearly define the “Exit Criteria” of POC. It is important to reach an agreement within the company in advance about how much time and results can be achieved before moving forward. That way, you should be able to reduce the number of things that end as wastes.

That’s all for this time, and I would like to continue from the next time onwards. Thank you for reading until the end.

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