How Solid is Your Change Launch Platform?
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a really poorly architected change? Fun times indeed! There are many reasons for these failures. Of special interest in this column are those changes that get launched before everything is in place to support their successful execution. Those are changes where the Change Launch Platform has not been solidified.
Many times, well-intentioned people will launch a process change thinking they have marked off everything on their pre-launch check list. Still, they end up launching from a platform that is shaky at best. Imagine your launch platform as ranging from something rock solid that NASA would be happy to use, down to some makeshift cardboard and stick “structure” that a couple drunken guys cobbled together at the last minute.
How do we ensure our process change platforms are solid (or at least not as close to the cardboard end of the scale as they are today)? Here are a few tips:
The PPIT Platform
Like a table has four legs, so does a Change Launch Platform. The stronger the platform the better chance you have for a good launch! Those four legs are: People, Process, Information, and Technology. What should go into those? Here is a non-comprehensive list for starters:
- Have we identified those who this change will “touch”?
- Do we understand their concerns?
- Did we build in a way for this change to be done “with” them, not “to” them?
- Have we created a change that is compatible with their organizational culture?
- Have we identified the right process owners, users, suppliers, customers, sponsors, etc.?
- Are the people rolling out this change skilled, trusted and respected by the organization?
- Is the sponsor of this change able and willing to fulfill their duties?
- Are the people involved properly trained to engage in this change?
- Do the key people have the proper knowledge and skills to make this a success?
- Have we identified the resistors to this change and developed a way to mitigate that risk?
- Have we identified the early adopters and fans of this change and leveraged them into our execution plan?
- Has the process we are changing been piloted, tested and refined?
- Do we have a good process for communicating this change?
- Do we have a good process for managing the rollout of this change?
- Is there an FMEA for this process? For the change rollout?
- Do we have a good process for understanding the human side of this change and managing process engagement?
- Has the process been properly documented and communicated?
- Has a proper process rollout method been chosen (ex: flash cut / phased / parallel, etc.)?
- Has an acceptable timeframe for the change been established?
- Has the process being changed been documented?
- Have training materials been updated and used to train those impacted?
- Has a solid communications plan been developed? Does it include two-way communications?
- Have all appropriate schedules been coordinated?
- Has “Air Traffic Control” been established to ensure this change doesn’t crash into another change happening at the same time?
- Have appropriate job descriptions, job aids, work instructions, SOPs, and so on been updated and well communicated?
- Do all the workers who will have to change understand what is changing in their life, when, and how? Do they understand their specific role and tasks?
- Do all members of the change rollout team have the information they need to manage, monitor, and govern this rollout? Ditto for the leadership team.
- Have change rollout success criteria and key rollout metrics been established along with data collection plans, ownership, action triggers and contingency plans?
- Have all main systems impacted by this process been identified and updated?
- Have any ancillary systems impacted by this process been identified and updated?
- Have all the tools people will be using been tested?
- Have we ensured access privileges for all appropriate people?
- Has the timing of system changes been coordinated along with contingencies?
- Do we have a plan in place for handling technology issues during the rollout?
It’s unlikely that any change launch platform is “perfect” given that our launches occur in real life – not a case study for some text book. However, thinking through checklists like this can help keep any platform instabilities down to a minor wobble - fixed real-time by cramming a metaphorical matchbook under a PPIT table leg. Now, let’s see if those drunken guys down the hall left any cold ones behind!