Category Archives: Resistance

6 Tips for Addressing Everyday Organizational Knowledge Management Needs

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The goal of an organizational Knowledge Management strategy is to gather-up the information, resources and expertise that exist within the organization in order to store it for future reference, leverage it for speed to insight and make better, more informed decisions. The goal is to know what we know, know what we don’t know and perhaps get closer to identifying what we don’t know that we don’t know.

So how do we take this quandary and make sense of it within organizations? The following are 6 tips for addressing everyday organizational KM needs. These tips are not overly technical and you’re not going to need to break out your Gant chart. These tips are high-level and meant to serve as a basic introduction to building a Knowledge Management practice.

1. Find out what the main areas of expertise are within each department.

This is the ‘know what we know’ part of the riddle and in KM, we refer to this as a Knowledge Audit. The purpose is begin to piece together the pockets of expertise in your organization, by department and by role. Who do you have and what do they know? What do they do? What resources do they create? What information do they have that helps them perform their jobs? Do they know what their role says they should know? Do they know other things?

Despite the way it may sound, a knowledge audit can be conducted rather informally. It can be as simple as a survey with a pre-determined list of skills or knowledge where employees check-off the skills they have, skills they want to learn, etc. This can even be anonymous and aggregated by department, so the insight is more directional and less individual.

In fact, the more informal and directional, the better. Knowledge is very personal to many and can be very sensitive to discuss, let alone divulge. Many years ago, I worked as a consultant at NASA HQ in Washington D.C. It was one of my very first clients as a junior consultant and my assignment was to communicate the roll-out of a new system to all the mission directorates. My role was strictly informational and supportive. I was to meet with each mission directorate, give an overview of the new system and explain how they were to use it. Simple, right? You know the saying, “It isn’t rocket science!”? Well, when you are a 22-year-old management consultant and you’ve been tasked with telling actual ROCKET SCIENTISTS that they should go forth and enter their skills and level of proficiency into a system with a name that included the words ‘Competency Management’, you realize that some things are a lot harder than they seem or than they need to be. So, keep it informal and aim for collective knowledge, not individual competencies.

2. Identify knowledge gaps and risks.

A knowledge audit will not only tell you what areas of expertise exist in your organization, but also what may be missing. An understanding of a department’s knowledge depth, can be a critical data point when it comes to decision-making. For example, once when conducting a knowledge audit for a data science department, we learned that only one respondent had checked off a skill that happened to be critical to day-to-day operations for one of the company’s most highly profitable and innovative solutions. Imagine if that employee decided to leave the organization or fell ill for an extended period of time. Through the help of the audit, we could identify this gap, the risk of potential knowledge loss and mitigate it by transferring that critical knowledge to more employees.

3. Create a digital space for knowledge to live.

The fastest and most efficient way to transfer and store knowledge is to go digital. Most organizations are using digital tools such as email and file sharing. You do not have to have a fancy intranet or a dedicated web-based platform to have knowledge management. To keep it simple, store commonly used documents or reference materials in a shared drive and keep them organized
with a mutually exclusive folder structure. If the capability exists, give documents appropriate and intuitive tags or assign some metadata to them to enable searchability.

4. Transfer and Share Knowledge.

Organizational knowledge exists in two different forms; explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge describes the stuff employees produce or create, such as documents, databases, emails, etc. It is easily codified and more easily stored and shared. Tacit knowledge on the other hand is somewhat more nuanced and difficult to identify. It often exists in minds of employees and is based on their experiences. A good knowledge management solution should aim to gather both explicit and tacit knowledge, where possible. Explicit knowledge likely exists on employees’ hard drives and in their email. An organized effort can be made to identify commonly used documents and transfer them to a shared space. Tacit knowledge can still be transferred from those who have it, to those who need it, but there isn’t always a tangible component to this type of transfer. Sometimes a tacit transfer looks more like a mentorship or a conversation to share experiences.

5. Don’t reinvent the wheel

The purpose of sharing knowledge is to grow and strengthen the collective wisdom of the organization and its employees. I once spent a two-week working on a client presentation, researching, writing, analyzing data, and creating charts and graphs, only to learn months later that the person sitting three cubes away had done a very similar presentation just weeks prior. Had I known that person or what he was working on, I would have asked to leverage the learning from his presentation. But in most organizations, it’s not possible to know every employee, across every office location. So instead, organizations deploy a KM solution to avoid redundancies and boost speed to insight for their customers.

6. Recognize people and progress

Lastly, when working in knowledge, we can’t forget that knowledge is only knowledge if there is someone to know something. Knowledge is personal. It doesn’t exist without people and their minds, their experiences, their decisions and their perceptions. A good Knowledge Management solution should include a healthy dose of employee interaction, inclusion and recognition. In a great many organizations, employees are used to storing documents on their hard drives, retaining knowledge in their brains and emailing information back and forth. It is important to understand the current state of your organization’s knowledge needs and make incremental improvements over time, while always paying close attention to the people and recognizing progress.

Knowledge Management doesn’t have to be as overwhelming or ambiguous as the name may infer. It can be as simple as understanding who you have, what they collectively know and how you can best share their knowledge with others and vice versa.

A Good Knowledge Management Strategy Can Help Bolster a Successful Change Initiative

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By Andie Wafzig

It has been said many times – “change is constant”. But for something so common in organizations today, change surely can elicit a myriad of discouraging reactions and responses ranging from fear to doubt to dismay. So, what might be the missing link that can help make a constantly changing environment or organization feel less volatile and even more agile? In a word, knowledge.

I was recently at an amusement park with my five-year-old son for the first time. In the first ten minutes, the size of the crowds and the extreme height of the rollercoasters had my anxiety on alert. We rode some kiddie rides a few times and then decided to walk around to other parts of the park. As we continued to walk, we came across more and more people with soaking wet clothes. Looking toward the direction they were coming, we quickly found the source – a giant, twisty-turny water ride, complete with a looming drop and the consistent, collective screams of ride goers as their log boat teetered on the top of the hill and plunged into the pool below. Much to my surprise came the arm tugging, pointing, jumping up and down and cries of “please, please, PLEASE” from my son. My stomach lurched. No way! This isn’t a kiddie ride. We came for the kiddie rides! He probably isn’t even tall enough. If he is, he will surely hate it, or be scared or heaven forbid fall out. I don’t want to walk around in soggy clothes the rest of the day. I don’t even like thrill rides anymore – I’m a mom!

To make a long and slightly wet story short, I gave in. He was tall enough. I came for the kiddie rides, but he had different expectations for the day. He loved the ride! He wasn’t scared at all. He (thankfully) did not fall out. We barely got wet at all; as it turns out, the soaking wet patrons I’d seen before were likely coming from other, more adventurous water rides nearby. And for the biggest surprise of all, the thrill-seeker in me hadn’t died with my age or my mom-status. I had a blast and we quickly hopped in line to do it all again.

So, what gives? Why the quick rush to fear and judgement?

In the absence of information, fear and doubt always find a way into our thoughts and, if we’re not careful, into our decision-making. This is as true in our personal roller-coaster-riding lives, as it is in our professional lives as employees, managers and leaders. The one way to combat this rush to judgement during times of change is to gather all of the facts, understand what is and what isn’t and grow your knowledge base in order to make more informed and ultimately, better decisions. In organizations, we call this Knowledge Management.

The Gartner Group defines knowledge management as “a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously uncaptured expertise and experience in individual workers.”

More simply put, Knowledge Management is a practice that aims to make sense of all the information and knowledge that flows in, out and through an organization. And it is becoming more and more critical, in today’s world of big data and rapid decision-making.

As a leader, if you don’t know what your organization knows, it can be hard to make a simple decision, let alone plan for the future. In order to innovate or try to stay ahead of your competition, leaders first must have a good grasp on the current state of their business. And, we’re not talking solely about what the numbers say, rather what is the individual and collective wisdom within the organization that can help you assess organizational capability or readiness? When faced with change, how quickly can your organization mobilize, make decisions and implement a new solution?

Let’s come back to the amusement park for a moment. With the proper information, the experience could have been much different. A quick web search would have equipped me with more information than I could possibly have needed to prepare me and my son for the day ahead. Knowledge and insight would have taken the seats at the table that doom and gloom were vying for.

In an organization, however, there is rarely an all-encompassing web search option that can answer any or all business-related unknowns. More likely, an employee’s options for finding an answer to a question are limited to their own knowledge and that of their closest peers and co-workers. Yet the need for information and speed to insight continues to grow. This is why organizations turn to Knowledge Management solutions – to identify the knowledge needs of the organization and connect people to the right resources, at the right time in order to make better and faster decisions.

With a Knowledge Management practice in place, an organization can better address all of the nuances that often accompany a change implementation. And, the people involved and impacted by the change will have a smoother transition from current state to future state, when organizational knowledge is shared and leveraged.

Common Questions in Training

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Common Questions in Training
By Beckie Schretter

Did you know Change Guides has certified scores of change management professionals in our principles, methodology and tools through the Change Management Certification class? The best part of teaching these classes is learning from each other as we share well-earned wisdom throughout the three days.

Here are some questions that often come up.

1. What tools are required for every change initiative?

There are no mandatory tools; however, there are 4 tools I use on virtually every change project to establish a firm foundation.

 The first tool is the Stakeholder Analysis tool which captures the impact the change will have on each impacted group. Capturing concerns focuses us on finding answers to help facilitate the transition.

 The second tool is the Change Management Communication Plan which lays out the communications needs to drive change for each stakeholder group. My favorite idea is to link communication objectives to the Change Guides Commitment Curve.

 The third tool is the Change Management Workplan to keep track of the tasks and next steps required. Managing these tasks ensures they get done in a timely manner.

 The last tool is either a Change Readiness Audit or a Commitment Assessment to get feedback. Do these tools multiple times throughout the project to get trend data on change readiness.

2. How can we best address resistance?

When participants understand resistance as feedback it alters how we talk about and approach perceived resistance. We begin to strive for understanding, asking what is underlying the resistance. This understanding
allows us to start address those needs.

3. What do you do when leaders are not aligned on the change initiative benefits or priority?

First confirm the leaders fully understand the change vision and benefits. Consider interviewing your key
executive sponsors and leaders using selected questions from the Leader Alignment Interview tool to gather data that will help facilitate an alignment conversation. Engage the executive sponsor by inviting him/her to the
meeting to help clarify expectations. Also, use the Leader Involvement Plan to share agreed upon messages or to take aligned action.

4. Can Change Guides Tools work on transformational change such as culture, new leaders or M&A changes?

The Change Guides tools work on all types of organizational changes because you can choose and adapt the tools for each unique situation. For example, when going through a culture change, the Systems and Structures Action Plan helps teams address those infrastructure areas where employee behaviors are most rewarded.

5. How can we succeed when the change management is starting so late in the project?

The closer a project is to implementation, the bigger the productivity dip and the slower the project benefits will be realized… and the deeper the frustration from stakeholders. Get focused on the critical stakeholder paths first and prepare for some remediation after the go live. People will appreciate your change efforts regardless.

Feedback for Leaders

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Leaders are the most important factor in the success or failure of an organizational change. An effective change manager will almost certainly need to give leaders feedback from time to time. If you are afraid to shape the most important lever in creating successful change (or, in other words, if you are afraid to give leaders feedback), you are compromising the potential success of the change.

When leaders are not doing or saying the right things about your change, it is time for feedback –honest, direct, and fair. There are a few things to remember when giving leaders feedback.

First, it is important to keep in mind that leaders almost always want to be supportive of change, act as champions for change efforts, and guide people toward their vision. But they just don’t have time or they don’t know how! Getting specific can be really helpful.

Clarifying small yet powerful activities that leaders can and should be doing to demonstrate support for the change is always helpful. Think about creating a simple Leadership Involvement Plan or document that outlines what leaders can be doing and when. The kind of things that can be discussed with a leader and included in a Leadership Involvement Plan are ways to:

Get involved in the change – being visible so that they can lead by example; attending project meetings, process reviews, and workshops; hosting or kicking-off a project event; and making time to attend executive training.

Communicate about the change – identifying and telling people how the change strategy or vision guides their group’s work; following up to ensure their communication is understood; holding “brown bag” lunches with your team to surface and resolve concerns or issues.

Reward people for doing the right thing – encouraging people to get involved in project activities; rewarding involvement in the change with public recognition or thank yous; maintaining regular contact with full-time project team members.

Walk the talk – including change-related objectives in their personal goals and objectives; offering up resources and support to the project team; dealing with resistance head on; expecting a learning curve and productivity dip during changes to new processes and technologies.

Second, leaders are people before they are sponsors, champions, or business people so being compassionate and understanding is imperative if feedback is going to be well received. Just as we need to help people in the organization get ready, willing, and able to behave differently, we need to help leaders make that same transition to behave differently in their role as a sponsor. We can’t expect leaders to magically commit to a new set of ideas and behaviors before they themselves have fully thought through what it means for them, how they will be valued under the new environment, how supported they will be, and more.

We know that when people need to change the way they work, they try to reestablish understanding, support and purpose. Leaders experience change just like everyone else does.

When things change, people feel like we are thrown into a fun house and it takes a few minutes for us to learn how to walk and navigate on sloping floors and with floor to ceiling mirrors. Leaders experience this same disorientation and need for understanding.

People seek support when they are in the midst of uncertainty and change. Somehow, everything seems a little better when people feel like they are not all alone. Leaders are no different and need support. In fact, leaders tend to have an even greater challenge in finding support because they may have fewer or no peers, or they may be reluctant to reach out to others.

People also look to reestablish their purpose during times of change. They often feel like their old purpose is threatened or might become irrelevant when their surroundings are in flux. Purpose is especially relevant to leaders since people who have worked their way up a ladder tend to define themselves and their value as people in terms of their jobs more than others. They need to believe that they will be successful and they will be valued.

Next time you are involved in a change and it looks like leadership is not stepping into the role required of them, don’t be afraid to offer feedback. Leaders are people too. They are not perfect, and should be open to suggestions for how their actions can either help or hinder the change. Be specific, and be compassionate.

Make it a Journey, Not an Event

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Many times during a change, impacted workers feel removed from project work. Communication is formal and one way. Project teams assume that awareness communication followed by training will result in workers adopting the change in step and on schedule – Wrong!!

As Change Leaders, we know that workers embrace change when they feel part of the transition, have opportunity to engage, and ask questions. Workers need time to make sense of the change for themselves, adapting to the future state and their role in it.

So, the challenge doesn’t usually lie in knowing what to do but convincing leaders and fellow team members that it’s worth doing. Below are a few ways to discuss the importance of feedback with leaders and fellow project team members. They should know that the time and effort required to bring workers on the journey is an investment worth making, resulting in a smoother go live and thereafter.

Feedback helps surface resistance. Resistance is inevitable during change. It’s a natural reaction when we don’t understand or agree. If ignored, resistance can be like a cancer, small at first but continually growing until it’s a major issue. It’s much better to find it early before it gains momentum, causing drama, setbacks and doubt.

Feedback is a gift. When it comes to changing processes, systems and people, you can’t know it all. There are so many things that trip up even the most well intentioned project team. Project success is jeopardized when concerns and issues aren’t surfaced until after go live. Implementing something others believe won’t work stalls momentum which can be expensive and difficult to regain. By making adjustments based on feedback along the way, the likelihood of acceptance and adoption increases.

Gather feedback from impacted managers and workers by including some of them on your team as SMEs. Hold feedback sessions with the broader impacted group so they can see the plans and be able to ask questions in a safe, informal, environment. Listen to their concerns and suggestions. It doesn’t have to always be their way but if you listen, acknowledge, provide an answer and sometimes adapt, you earn credibility and bring them along on the journey.

Lastly, remind leaders and fellow team members about who is left once they move on. The workers must be the ones who believe in the changes, internalize it and sustain it. Without them embracing the change, there usually isn’t much of a change.

How Are You Defining Success

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How are you defining success? Is it getting new technology launched or is it about how much it is being leveraged? Is anyone sticking around to see how employees’ mindset and behavior changed or are all off to the next project? Is leadership tracking how much changed compared to the business case or have they already shifted their focus? Success shouldn’t be defined by “implementation” but by “adoption.”

To help ensure success is focused on adoption, use something like our Change Integration Checklist tool after go live. Organizational change is a process, not an event. Just because go live is a “date” doesn’t mean the change happens overnight. No matter how well planned, implementations experience setbacks and unexpected challenges. Resistance from stakeholders is still a real possibility.

In order to assess what actions are needed to reinforce new behaviors and sustain the change, lead a discussion with your team and impacted management about the people, transition, and adoption. Below are a few items taken from our Change Integration Checklist. Like all tools, you’ll want to customize your approach and add a few more questions to the list.

1. Are leaders still championing the future state and vision?

2. Is there a safe outlet for feedback – reactions, concerns and comments?

3. Do employees have appropriate tools to be successful?

4. Are employees well trained to do their revised jobs?images

5. Are we tracking and reporting measures that reinforce the new behaviors?

6. Are we recognizing early adopters and successes?

Projects are stressful and long. By implementation, most are ready to flee. However, the right thing to do is to keep the big picture in mind, fight to stick around and assess (or help management assess) what really changed (or didn’t). Only after such an assessment can leaders and managers take appropriate action to help ensure all the work and money that went into
implementation wasn’t for naught.

Why Change Management Fails

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When organizations go about changing, the hardest work is almost always related to people. Getting people ready, willing and able to work differently is easier said than done. Defining a vision is important. But translating that vision into real change is an entirely different challenge that is where the rubber really meets the road.

Too often, we see well-meaning change management programs fail. A successful change management program ensures that a few critical things necessary to change an organization are in place.

First and foremost, successful change management ensures that there is active and visible sponsorship. That means leaders are engaged in the change in a way that people can actually see. Among other things, leaders need to be present (literally and figuratively) at key meetings, say the right things at the right times, prioritize meetings with project team members, ask informed questions about the change and make efforts to be available for informal conversations.

Second, successful change management ensures frequent and open communications about why the change is needed. People understand why the change is important and how the company, customers, and they themselves will benefit. Effective communication requires repetition, consistency, and transparency. Appealing to both the head and the heart helps too. A need that can be felt emotionally rather than just understood logically is more apt to spur action.hqdefault

Third, successful change management ensures a structured approach to managing the people elements of the transition. There are periods of assessing the impacted stakeholders and potential areas of resistance. There is an understanding of how to manage the individual transition that people will experience. There is an approach or methodology that provides a means for planning the work and carrying out the change management activities. And the approach includes work to help reinforce and sustain the new behaviors after the change is initially implemented.

Lastly, successful change management ensures that there are dedicated resources to manage the change. What projects succeed without people focused on getting it done? Dedicated resources and funding for managing the people elements of the change ensure that the work is the primary focus for some person or group of people. When the organizational change elements of a project are left to the project team without any specific focused resources, it is understandable that they fall to the bottom of the priority list.

Knowing these critical success factors for change management is the first step in actually putting those things into place so that a change management program can thrive in your organization.

Let Us Tell You a Story

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by Beckie Schretter and Gina Giannitelli
Carol, an employee with over 30 years of service, deeply loves her work and truly wants what is best for her organization. She believes in the mission and values of the organization and has deep connections with the patrons. The director, Bob, was hired several years ago to help increase profitability, but hasn’t been successful. When Bob presents a new revenue creation idea to board leadership, Carol publicly questions the mission and vision alignment of the idea. A few months later Carol is called into Bob’s office and is handed a letter explaining her
position is being eliminated due to financial pressures. She feels deeply betrayed, angry and concerned for the organization she loves. Bob avoids Carol in the days that follow. She grapples with whether she is the victim of retribution. She decides to write a letter to the board…

Are you wondering or even making up how this story ends?

At the ACMP conference, storytelling was a theme throughout book pictureseveral presentations. Research
shows you use more of your brain when listening to a story, far more than when you listen to a
slide presentation or read a written communication. As Susan Weinschenk Ph.D. describes “…
because you are having a richer brain event, you enjoy the experience more, understand the information more deeply, and retain it longer.” How can we use stories in change?

Use them to create the case for change, connecting the head and the heart. Stories provide a refreshing break from data filled presentations or memos. Research by Paul Zak shows stories create a tension that sustains attention, which leads to shared emotions. Shared emotions lead to mimicked feelings and an increased trust and willingness to take action.

Recognize and challenge stakeholder stories throughout the process. Researcher Brene Brown reminds us stakeholders create stories that drive behavior. She observed “the brain needs to know the story” and fills in needed details. Resilience is enhanced when people challenge the
truth of their own storytelling.

Storytelling inspires change and helps people move up the commitment curve. When preparing the case for change or drafting a stakeholder communication, consider what story could illustrate the point and grab attention. When leaders are reluctant to share information, remind them people will fill in the blanks with their own stories. When confronted with counterproductive behavior, ask questions and challenge the story driving that behavior. What is the story behind your change?

Culture, Learning, and Change Go Hand in Hand

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According to a Forbes article*, there are five keys to building a successful learning organization.

1. Remember that corporate learning is “informal” and HR doesn’t own it
2. Promote and reward expertise
3. Unleash the power of experts
4. Demonstrate the value of formal training
5. Allow people to make mistakes

This is a great list and directly applies to culture. It’s “how we do things around here”. It’s reflected in what people say and how they act on a daily basis. The cultures that display these five elements have an advantage when it comes to organizational change.

Remember that corporate learning is “informal” and HR doesn’t own it. This “informal” aspect of learning is an attitude that “I can learn something new every day.” These cultures use teachable moments. It’s as simple as asking a question real time or watching someone else doing the task right before you do it. That attitude translates to an appetite for change.8-constants-clipart

Promote and reward expertise – For projects, using Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) pays dividends. These experts are approachable and knowledgeable. Recognizing SMEs publicly, presenting them as role models and leaders demonstrates that having and sharing knowledge is valued.

Unleash the power of experts – It takes a village to drive successful change. Giving SMEs the support and resources they need to motivate teams, share their expertise, and develop others builds momentum and prepares people for an upcoming change.

Demonstrate the value of formal training – Most projects include formal training to prepare impacted employees for a change in their job responsibilities. To best prepare for a change, it’s critical that the management team places formal training as a high priority. Attendance should be required and tracked. After employees start working in new ways, sharing employee stories of how that training prepared users for the changes reinforces the value of training and communicates that implementation has happened.

Allow people to make mistakes – Anyone who has experienced a “go live” on new processes and/or technology knows there is no such thing as a “perfect go live”. It’s important to build the expectation that employees won’t know everything forward and backward day one. Recognize the learning curve inherent in the change and the likelihood that mistakes will happen as employees transition from old ways to new.

Creating a learning organization culture takes leadership commitment, a strategy, plan, and resources. In return, the organization and employees experience many benefits, one of them is being better prepared for change.

* 5 Keys to Building a Learning Organization by Josh Bersin 1/18/2012

The Digital Evolution Within Organizations

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Many of our clients are evolving to meet the needs of digitally savvy customers. The ubiquitous nature of technology makes it easy for customers and organizations to connect, changing the way almost every organization does business. And if the way an organization interacts with customers is changing, it almost certainly is changing the way it operates inside of the business.

Technology opens up great opportunities for organizations – it makes it easier for organizations to identify customers, keep in touch with customers, and develop deeper relationships with customers. Technology also, however, poses challenges for organizations– it makes it possible for customers to share what they really think (good, bad or indifferent), to comparison shop, and to be more educated about their choices.cell phone

The digital age requires organizations to always be on top of their game. If they aren’t, there is another organization that is willing to take their place. Your customers can easily find those willing replacements, and those organizations can find your customers.
There are a host of changes that come about when an organization goes digital. How organizations identify, nurture, and serve customers is different today than it was 10 years ago. And that means how organizations are run to create different “outputs” needs to change too.

We have several clients that have been successful brick and mortal retailers for a long time. Those companies are now learning how to be online retailers. The shift to meeting customer needs online and digitally ripples through everything they do – pricing, logistics, assortment, promotions, inventory management, etc.… Every part of these very large organizations will look different in a few years because of their evolution into digital merchants.

So how do organizations make such a shift? It requires a lot of vision and a great plan, some strong project management, and a commitment to managing change for the people who need to work differently. To expect people who have been successful working in the old way to magically be successful in the new way is not realistic.change-pocket-guide-app-icon

If the people in pricing, logistics, assortment, promotions, inventory management, and so on are not ready, willing and able to work differently, the endeavor will take a long time to get off of the ground. And that is just enough time for competitors to step in and meet their customers’ needs.