Co-authored by Bianca Di Lucente of Nitor.
Pack your bags! We’re traveling abroad! A global change initiative is a monumental and transformative undertaking for organizations with cross border trajectories. There may be layovers, several modes of transportation, or even a change in carrier before we arrive at our final destination. Upon arrival, we need to determine where to spend our time to get the best return on investment, which souvenirs to pick up, and which to leave behind to successfully clear customs.
Clients with representation around the world will innately have a more complex change itinerary. Just as with any international travel, when planning for change we must take the language, exchange rates, culture and customs into consideration. To best schedule our trip (change), it is essential to:
- plan strategically building in time to appreciate local customs;
- learn and understand the local leadership levels, hierarchy, time orientation, and working patterns as this will impact how and when communication must occur; as well as
- consider language requirements, communication channels, and learning styles.
Stakeholders and executive management act as the travel agents to plan the trip (change) for corporate change initiatives. With a fluent understanding of cultural nuances, they serve as the translators of the change vision and mission. While it’s easy for users to get lost in translation due to regional and work environment differences, if we take the time to agree on the final destination, we often find more points of alignment than variance.
Charting Our Course
Our first step is to agree on our functional requirements. What is our shared goal? Do we agree on the important points of interest along the route? Generally, organizations performing same/similar functions will want the system to produce similar outputs; variance most often comes in how we generate these results. As Change Managers, we must be aware of our departure point and plan our route considering the most effective forms of transportation. The initiative mission acts as a compass pointing us to the horizon; our projects' intent and final destination.
Once functional requirements are documented, we have a point from which we can start our communication efforts. We use this opportunity to socialize where we have found consistency and areas of regional alignment. Starting at this stage gives us the benefit of a shared vocabulary/language early in the development and opens the door to a more unified approach.
Checking Our Packing List
As the conversation shifts to technical requirements, we will search for quick wins where requirements already match or can easily be aligned before engaging in a thorough review of geographic specifications. Terms to consider include local workers council, VAT, invoice detail, and/or commodity restrictions. These terms create added checkpoints which are non-negotiable and must be met either through regional deviance or a global update to business process. Greater deviation requires additional customized messaging and may have an impact to resource availability. Organizational alignment allows for greater integration through streamlined, more automated technology and processes.
More people saying the same thing enables users to become ambassadors of the program before it’s even off the ground. Positive testimony at this stage is as important as a 5-star Yelp review. These local advocates, already culturally ingrained to the organization, are our Change Champions. Change Champions act as seasoned tour guides aiding in the process of creating the right mindset for the journey. With consistent, multi-channel messaging, the initial thought transformation begins as travelers advance towards an adoptive mindset.
There comes a point in the journey when each passenger realizes they are past the point of no return; change is inevitable and there is no turning the plane back now. We are all on this road together. In fact, it's probably best to sit back, press the call button and ask the flight attendant for a stiff one.
Adoption only occurs when specific end user benefits are clearly communicated, and the overarching mission is thoroughly understood. Project advocacy from executive stakeholders is critical throughout the change journey who provide messages of support and alignment midway and towards the end of an initiative. Companies that match custom training strategies and blended learning toolkits to well defined processes and firm policies show our travelers a clear path toward their final destination.
Achieving Medallion Status
Travelers must be well informed and prepared with the right equipment for success to support change readiness and secure final commitment. With these tools in hand, and status achieved, the clouds part and we are ready to land. Our now seasoned traveler has now fully realized the benefits that come with loyalty/commitment.
As we clear customs and cross under the “Welcome Home” sign, we admire the new stamp in our passport, a symbol of a successful change journey. In time, we’ll recover from the jet lag, file away the memories and begin planning our next adventure. Bon Voyage!