THE BLOG

24
Apr

3-Step Strategy For Change Management Communications

By Randy Rosenthal

Change is a continuous process.   In order to best manage change within an organization, a structured communications strategy is key.   When all stakeholders, managers, and employees have a solid understanding of the underlying philosophy of why a change or changes are necessary, the organization as whole can make great leaps forward.

How Change Happens

The Lewin Change Management Model

Kurt Lewin, a physicist and social scientist, developed a model for change management in the 1950s.  Lewin’s work focused on the motivations and effects for change.  As a means to further explain his work, he developed a “block of ice” analogy containing three stages:

  • Unfreeze – Ensures employees are ready for change
  • Change – Execute the intended change
  • Refreeze – Ensures change becomes permanent

As we examine this model, we can see how any change must go through three essential phases.  Our goal is to make sure employees receive adequate communication each step of the way.

STEP 1: Unfreeze

Overcome Fear Through Communication

Where are people getting their information?  Do they know what the change entails, or are they hearing about the planned changes through the grapevine or office gossip?  When employees know what is going to happen, when, and why, they may feel more comfortable.  Research shows that those who have more complete information about upcoming changes are more committed to a change effort.1

STEP 2: Change

How We Frame the Change Matters

Companies that have successful change management programs share a common leadership team commitment to the communication of their vision for success.  When this vision is exciting and paints a picture of a future that makes employees proud, they are likely to be more committed to change.  A sense of urgency is also important.  Employees need a strong reason to believe change is necessary.2, 3

Facilitate Employee Participation

Studies show that employees who are active participants in change efforts tend to have more positive opinions about the change. Why? They will have the opportunity to voice their concerns. They will be more knowledgeable about the reasons for change, alternatives to the proposed changes, and why the chosen alternative was better than the others. Finally, they will feel a sense of ownership of the planned change and are more likely to be on board.4

Spotlight Small Wins

Acceptance of change will be more successful by focusing attention on the small wins.5

STEP 3: Refreeze  

Social Success

Continuing to share the results of the change effort can help freeze the desired attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.  Providing skills and tools to facilitate peer knowledge transfer keeps this process fresh and evolving.

In Closing

A Balanced & Integrated Communication Plan Is Crucial During All Stages

Creating a brief, balanced, and integrated Change Communications Plan (CCP) that balances push and pull throughout the full change lifecycle is essential.  A CCP might consist of a 3-week structured approach with defined key messages, timed email, and podcast deliverables.  Topics for each communication piece might center on customer impacts and cross-functional cooperation.

 

1.  Wanberg, C. R., & Banas, J. T. (2000). Predictors and outcomes of openness to changes in a reorganizing workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 132–142.

2.  Herold, D. M., Fedor D. B., Caldwell, S., & Liu, Y. (2008). The effects of transformational and change leadership on employees’ commitment to a change: A multilevel study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 346–357.

3.  Gerstner, L. V. (2002). Who says elephants can’t dance? Inside IBM’s historic turnaround. New York: HarperCollins; Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

4.  Wanberg, C. R., & Banas, J. T. (2000). Predictors and outcomes of openness to changes in a reorganizing workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 132–142.

5.  Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press; Reay, T., Golden-Biddle, K., & Germann, K. (2006).

 

 

23
Apr

Digital Debt, Digital Depreciation, and Digital Communities

By Chris Lane-Lightfoot

Spoiler alert… this article is not about finance.

New products and product updates require constant refreshes to existing digital assets.  Before you create your next asset, let Tricycle assist you in considering the digital debt and digital depreciation implications so you reap all the benefits of your asset throughout its entire lifecycle.

Digital Debt

Digital Debt is only loosely associated with financial debt.  Digital debt pertains more to assets that are created in a manner that makes it challenging to evolve the asset further. For example, you may have a PowerPoint deck that’s gained popularity in your organization.  Perhaps this same PowerPoint is modified by other people and possibly in other mediums (websites, etc.). If you did not make your slide deck easily modifiable and portable you now start to experience the effects of Digital Debt.  Although initially using PowerPoint as a tool (and yourself as a builder) may have been a great option, as the needs for assets expand it can become more painful to enhance because you did not build it with enhancement in mind (or you figured that you would deal with that later). Digital Debt requires you to expend significant effort to rework the asset to suit the new needs.

Digital Depreciation

Like owning a house, when you create a digital asset, no matter how well you build it, over time that asset will require maintenance as technology evolves around it.  In the life of a digital asset, many factors determine the depreciation of the asset.  For example, if you develop an App that runs on an Apple iPad you must continue to maintain the App as new versions of Apple iOS are released or the app may cease to function properly and lose value.  Continuing with the iPad App example… as other similar Apps are developed, users may find that these new Apps have features that your App does not provide and your App may decrease in usefulness.  Additionally, as visual styles evolve, your App may start looking too “old school” causing users to look for other options.  The message here is that the digital landscape is rapidly evolving and digital assets must be continually maintained or they will depreciate in value.

Both Digital Debt and Digital Depreciation can be limited by choices that are made during conceptualization and development of a digital asset.

Digital Community

The final factor to consider is the Digital Community that you choose to associate with.  Digital Communities include groups like the Microsoft Windows community, the UNIX community, the Open-Source community, etc.  By choosing one or more digital communities to associate with, you are in essence making a bet on which group will provide the best environment for the success and longevity of your digital asset.  Often there are many factors that limit the digital communities you associate with.  These may include; company policy (“we require all assets to be compatible with Microsoft Windows”), needs of the asset you are creating (“internet access is unreliable in hospital environments”), and personal choices (“I prefer to use Open-Source options if available”), etc.

Summary

Tricycle is committed to helping our clients make the best choices when building digital assets.  When creating a new asset, it’s helpful to understand the digital debt your company may accrue and, to some extent, the rate with which you can expect to incur digital depreciation.  Strategies for managing digital assets are critical, and when you partner with Tricycle, we’ll work with you to ensure you gain continual value from your digital assets.

22
Apr

5 Tips for a Snooze-Free Meeting

By Chaz Brueggemann

Meetings can help us achieve consensus, hold one another accountable, and plan future success.  Unfortunately, meetings are not always fun.  Here are a few tips to help keep your next meeting more engaging, creative, and fun!

  1.  Keep Your Meeting Short. In Tom Searcy’s Inc.com article, Meetings Suck? Make Them Better, he mentions that in order to increase engagement, “a tight agenda with clear outcomes,” is imperative to success.  Furthermore, “Simplicity is not just the hallmark of elegance; it is also critical for effectiveness.”
  2. Invite The Right Attendees.  Have you invited those attendees who really need to be at your meeting?  In 3 Ways To Make Meetings Much Less Boring And Much More Useful the author discusses the importance of having the right attendees involved in meetings.  “Poor meetings are generally either somebody talking and everyone else is pretending to listen, or a conversation that only involves a couple of people.”
  3. Make Sure You Have A Clear Purpose. Dale Carnegie’s  strategy for presenting is sometimes one of the best meeting format strategies, “Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said.”  For example, make sure you have an agenda, start off by telling everyone the purpose of the meeting.  As you generate ideas and form a consensus on key topics, make sure you record this information.  When you close the meeting, make sure you repeat the key points of the meeting as well as next steps.
  4. Get Involvement Once you have the right attendees, make sure you get everyone involved in the room.  The Harvard Business Review article, Tips on Meetings, offers a few ways to help with meeting participation.  First, don’t control the meeting (even if you organized it).  Make sure you get other people to speak up and share their thoughts before you speak again.  Second, be positive.  Thank people for their involvement.  Even if it’s a heated meeting look for ways to keep the meeting positive and show appreciation for new ideas and feedback given.
  5. Finish Early.  Once your meeting has achieved all of its goals, why not adjourn a little early?