Product Innovation Trends

Three things I am certain of: death, taxes, and that Change is HARD

What you need to know about Change Management, Part 1.

Mary Kuch | January 25, 2017

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I am a Strategic Customer Success Manager at Jama. I have watched many customers implement Jama and learned a few things along the way. One of the biggest AHA! moments I’ve had so far is that the lift the organization makes to change human behavior around how they do their work is much heavier than the tasks associated with training people how to use Jama. Learning how to use Jama is actually the easy part! When launching Jama, the real challenge is successfully going through the change management exercise.

Humans hate change. Why? Because it’s hard! Repaving the roads in our brains around our daily activities is hard mental work and when the work we’re doing is on a delivery timeline – or heaven forbid, behind – reverting to the evil we know can be astonishingly tempting. As an organization going through change that involves the lifeblood of your organization – your products – you need to accept this undeniable fact and embrace strategies that address that head-on. I’ll be sharing the first of my learnings with you in this post; another follow-on post with additional thoughts will be posted in the next several days.

The first critical thing is to communicate why the change is necessary to the entire organization. Make sure everyone wallows in the pain of the current state and understands why the new state is better and critical to the longevity of the organization. Paint a vision of it. Talk about how the changes are important to everyone, not just the product organization. Why? Because there will be hiccups along the way and everyone needs to be bought in and understand the value of going through the challenges and work associated with the change. In my experience, if you don’t, they won’t.

The second thing to keep in mind and cozy up to is that this change will be disruptive to the business. Your investment in thorough planning will minimize the amount of disruption, but no amount of planning will make it seem like nothing is going on. That’s OK. Plan for that disruption in your timelines of possible. The exercise of shaking things up provides the rare opportunity to look at what you’re doing with a critical eye and make changes deemed unthinkable before. The good news is that this change is actually what you needed, the trick is to not develop amnesia around it!

The third thing I’ll share with you today is that (natural, human) resistance, (perceived) roadblocks and barriers (that are laziness or ignorance in disguise) are used to demonstrate failure of the project. Don’t buy it. Change fatigue will probably set-in. Things won’t happen perfectly. Stakeholders only partially involved in the success of the project will resist changing how they work. Timelines may slip and second thoughts will start swirling. Don’t let natural challenges inherent in any broad scale change derail seeing yourself and your teams in a better place.

Follow up with Change Management, Part 2.