Category Archives: The Change Management 101 Model

6 Tips for Addressing Everyday Organizational Knowledge Management Needs

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

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.

Training is Part of Learning

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

To learn, people need to be prepared to acquire new knowledge and skills. They need to go through some type of training or skill building. And they need to practice and retain what was learned.

The best learning takes place when people have a mindset that is ready to learn. Until people understand the need to learn something new and want to be a part of a new future, it is hard to get people to act differently.

It is not uncommon to try to “force” people to comply with new ways of working by throwing them into a class and expecting that they will soak up the information and come out the other end of the class transformed.

Sorry, but it doesn’t happen that way!

Have you ever sat in a training class that your boss made you go to thinking, “This is complete a waste of time? Why am I even here?” Sadly, it is much more common than it should be.

To get people ready to learn, start by explaining why the learning needs to happen, how individuals will benefit, and what people’s new roles will be. Allow people to talk about the change and what will be expected. Give people some foundational information to get them started; like an overview or short CBT before dropping them into a boot-camp or a long training program. This gives people the chance to think about what they are about to learn before they jump all the way in.

Just as important as being ready to enter training, people need to have the right experiences while they are being trained.

This may seem obvious, but people should feel like they have safe environment in which to learn. Trying out new behaviors can seem risky in front of peers, bosses, or staff. If people feel threatened or unsafe, little learning will happen.

People need to feel like they are actively engaged in the learning process – not just being directed. And they need to believe that what is being learned is immediately useful. Practicality and relevance are critical to getting people to commit to learning.

Lastly, learning is not truly accomplished until new skills or knowledge have been retained and applied. Too often people go to a seminar or training program and think, “This is great! I can’t wait to use this back at my desk!” Then a month later, they look back and realize that they are not doing anything they talked about in the class.

People need to be able to integrate new ideas into what they already know if they are going to keep – and use – new information. People retain more if they get immediate practice. And reinforcement should be part of the learning process to ensure that what was trained is applied appropriately.

An organization teeming with learners is destined for a great future. Because strong minds fuel strong organizations.

Common Questions in Training

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

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

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

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

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

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.

Why Change Management Fails

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

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.

The DO Phase – Executing Your Plan

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

By: Annie Ayvazian
Once you have assessed needs and developed a change management plan, you are prepared to execute that plan. This involves developing your communication materials and preparing your organization to transition to the future state.
The “do” phase consists of 2 key activities: (1) launch communications and (2) transition work.

1. Launching communications: Now that you have developed your communication plan, it’s time to prepare content and materials to ensure people understand the project and why it’s important. This includes crystalizing key messages into an elevator speech, developing a communications network to champion the change, and providing answers to frequently asked questions.

2. Transitioning work: To effectively transition work, you need to identify the key activities required to implement the change successfully. This includes assessing readiness, defining training needs, and developing a workforce transition plan to prepare people for the new work and new skills required in the future state.

A Few Change Guides Tools – Click on the icon to see the tools.


Why is the “Do” Phase So Important?
The “do” phase is the phase where your planning turns to action and where you connect with the stakeholders who are impacted by your project. By crafting and communicating your key messages and determining the activities needed to transition work, you are preparing your organization to implement change successfully.

The PLAN Phase – A Critical Roadmap to Success

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

by Shannon Stautberg
Every successful project starts with a common factor – a plan. Whether it’s the construction of a new house, the implementation of an enterprise-wide system or the creation of a piece of art, a plan is critical to a project’s success. The same is true for projects that involve change management. Getting people ready, willing and able to work in new ways requires a plan.

Planning change management activities requires you to do two things: (1) assess your needs and (2) develop a plan.

1. Assessing Needs: Identifying stakeholders, evaluating if leaders are aligned around a common vision and estimating how much effort will be required to help people understand and adopt a change are necessary to steps in defining the change management activities that should occur.

2. Developing a Plan: Developing a change management plan requires you to map out communications, leadership involvement and workforce transition activities. An effective plan also identifies who will perform these activities and when they should occur.

A Few Change Guides Planning Tools
Click on the icon below to see two of our frequently used “Planning” tools.

Plan Pie Highlighted

The Stakeholder Analysis defines the people who are critical to a successful change and
assesses their current and desired levels of support.

The Change Management Workplan lists the change management activities, estimating effort required and tracking progress.


Why is “Planning” So Important?

All too often, people make the mistake of skipping the “plan” phase. Instead, they jump feet first into doing the work they think should be done to get people on board with a change. While taking the time to engage in thoughtful planning does take time and resources, creating a plan is much more than an exercise. It’s the tactical road map to achieving the ultimate vision and goals of the project. Without a plan, you’re more likely to hit roadblocks and unnecessary detours. Don’t take shortcuts…take the time to plan!

The Digital Evolution Within Organizations

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

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.

Learning About Change Takes a Change

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

If you’ve never done it before, applying organizational change strategies and tactics is a change. It takes new thinking and new behaviors compared to what you’ve done in the past. Our company’s philosophy is that successful organizations lead and manage change in a strategic, thoughtful, planned and proactive way. If you’ve never approached organizational change that way before and now are trying to – it’s a change for you and those you work with.

Clients come to us because they are trying to learn a new or better way to lead and manage change. They are trying to learn the strategic, process, and tool based approach that we teach and apply. Some have used successful strategies in the past but they are often one off attempts at communicating or involving stakeholders. When they reach out to us, they’ve realized that people issues too easily fall through the cracks resulting in slipped timelines and underachievement.

As we work with new clients or immerse trainees in our approach during certification training, we often witness an example of individual change and transition. It’s a transition of knowing how to do something today then learning how to do things differently and applying that learning, changing behaviors as a result. This is a journey they hope to help others make. Here’s how we see their journey from our side of the table:

The awareness stage – they have identified that the current state doesn’t work (the current state defined as being reactive or negligent regarding people issues during change as witnessed by things like lack of communication, lack of sponsorship, lack of involvement and strong resistance). They have identified that there is a better way, a future state, as defined as using a strategic, planned and proactive approach to organization change.

The understanding stage – they are seeking to understand what a strategic, planned and proactive approach to organization change looks like. They increase their understanding by reading books, combing our website, and asking questions.

The desire stage – they have the motivation and put plans in place to do things differently. They make personal and financial commitments and see the “what’s in it for me”. They commit to training and/or hire us for consulting services.

The adoption stage, they start using Change Guides strategies and tools either by working with our consultants, applying what they have learned from Change Guides training or by reading our Change Management Pocket Guide and The Eight Constants of Change. They have changed their behaviors and are adopting a new way of working.

As they use and adapt the tools and processes over time, they will enter the internalization stage. In this stage, workers have made the new work part of their regular routine and have even improved upon it.

Like with any individual transition, it can be challenging to learn new ways to approach your work. I tell clients that the first time they use a Change Readiness Audit, it will probably feel a little uncertain and uncomfortable which is what happens to individuals when they are transitioning. I tell them, “That’s OK”. They will get more comfortable the second, third and fourth time they use the tool, just like workers who get training and practice are more comfortable when they are asked to work differently.

Organizational change comes down to individual transition. It’s important to remember how that feels, how it takes time, and that it applies to all of us no matter what we are trying to change.