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Episode 72: The Secret to Change Management Success In a Business Environment of Constant Change

by Hannah Rose | Nov 8, 2023 10:00:00 AM

Are traditional change management approaches still relevant today? Given the constantly changing business landscape, things look different now and we need to approach change management differently.




Additional Resources:

Show Notes:

Pre-Show Banter: Doug is surprised that the platform they use to record now has a countdown from five because everyone always expects a countdown from three. (That would throw me off, too.) And if you haven’t had enough of Doug and Jess talking about the show West Wing, the two of them debate who is the better character, Sam Seaborn or Will Bailey. Which turns into why Martin Sheen would never be elected president in modern times. 

This episode’s topic is one Jess wasn’t expecting to rile Doug up as much as it did - change management. The way this topic was brought up was from our Content Manager, Fiona, “change management is a huge and often overlooked part of using CRM and should be thought about from the beginning, but it’s usually left ot the end when it’s not nearly as effective.” 

Jess’s take on this is that it is often overlooked and not really discussed early on. A lot of change management plans are overkill, but Jess doesn’t think it gets discussed or thought about until you need to roll out the system to users. When she talks about it being overlooked, she’s talking about how the company is going to manage the adoption and the utilization. People aren’t utilizing the system in the way that we expect them to use it, heavy resistance starts, and no one is really being impacted until right at the end. 

Doug struggles with this topic because he used to think a lot about change management and today he’s posing the question - is change management a thing? Because we used to pay a lot of attention to change management and now we don’t.

When we talk about the CRM, the statement about change management is accurate, but the cause is not about change management. The cause is the business process isn’t driving the technology. When we talk about resistance and change management, think about this: 

We take a company that has 300 salespeople. They’re using four different systems, with the dominant one being no system, spreadsheets, notes, everything around the place. We roll out a new CRM. The rollout isn’t supposed to be right the first time, so why would we expect everyone to go, “Oh, yes, this is what I want to use.” 

Here’s the problem with change management: the way that it’s defined and talked about is from a time when there wasn’t a lot of change. It takes an item out of an ecosystem and highlights it. 

Based on the conversation from last week on adoption and utilization, Jess found an article talking about how effective change management is, and how it’s more about understanding the business and the users in the current landscape.

When you implement a new CRM, you are implementing change. Is the change because you’re implementing a new CRM or is the change because of why you’re implementing a new CRM? 

When it comes to change management, the business process must drive the change. The change should never drive the business process. 

The other element when you look at change management is the way it’s approach builds in the assumption that people are resistant to change. The thing is - yes they are and no they’re not. How much change management was needed for people to start using cell phones? And then how hard was the transition from cell phones to smartphones? Not that hard. Doug thinks people aren’t as resistant to change, they’re tied to their habits.

Getting into the Three Zones of Execution, this is a model for change. What’s the best way to get someone to change? Change in a manner that the person doesn’t have to do anything different. 

That’s called automation.

Do we have to get people to adopt logging their emails? No because they’re adopting the CRM even if they don’t know they’re adopting the CRM because their emails will get logged automatically if their inbox is connected. 

So with the Three Zones of Execution, what we’re saying is, here’s the company we are today (Zone 3: The Transformation Zone). This is the company we want to become (Zone 1). The next 90 days, The Performance Zone gets us from the company we are to the company we want to become. In this zone we get shit done, hit key targets, don’t introduce a whole bunch of new shit. And the cycle continues as you make progress towards your goals. 

3 Zones of Execution

Change management is communication.

Doug looked into what ChatGPT had to say on change management and he found that every change management model fits into this answer: 

  • Create a clear vision
  • Engage leadership
  • Build a strong change team
  • Communication and transparency
  • Stakeholder involvement
  • Training and development
  •  Identify and manage resistance
  • Pilot and test
  • Celebrate small wins
  • Evaluate and adjust
  • Sustain the change
  • Measure success
  • Learn and improve
  • Document the process

This sounds like what you would do if you’re not changing anything, too.

What you need to do is align your vectors. That’s where change management and other things get bogged down is when your vectors aren’t aligned. It’s all about creating context. 

The fundamental problem with every change management model that Doug has seen is that it’s centrally driven, it’s top down, and it becomes about compliance as opposed to being decentralized. So change management becomes a great excuse for things and a place to blame.

A great way to create clear vision for something new that we’re doing is by communicating it. This is why the Three Zones of Execution is so valuable because it shows where we’re going and how we’re operationalizing this level of “complete.”

Change management is a waterfall philosophy. It is not an agile philosophy. Agile is built on change. The Three Zones of Execution is about stability management. We need to flip it on its head. We used to live in a world of great stability that had change, so we needed to manage the change. Today we live in a world that is all change, that needs stability.

One of the best ways to implement change is to talk about what isn’t changing, what hasn’t changed, and what is the same. 

The most powerful element of change management is the scoreboard. You want people to change? Change the scoreboard. 

To call it change management today, we’re oversimplifying it. 

Jess’s Takeaways: 

  • Change management is more communication management.
  • Don’t focus so much on the change; it actually has the inverse effect.
  • Look to The Three Zones of Execution.

Next Steps: