James T. Brown, Synergy 2014: Managing Change in Projects
“We must get them to want what they have to deliver,” Dr. James T. Brown stated at the Synergy PMI UK Chapter event earlier this month. “We must go through this process in order to show that you are a good person, and to make them anticipate the deliverable.”
He was talking about wooing.
Project managers need to do this to get stakeholders on board for their projects and make change work. “Wooing” is not a function that can be done in a single step. It’s not easy to implement it and get it. It takes time and effort for stakeholders to get excited about your project and be prepared to do the hard work of change.
The three steps of Change Management
James stated that there are many change models, but he prefers Kurt Lewin’s Freeze Phases.
Unfreeze: Recognize the need to change
Change is possible: implement a project, deliver change, and transition to a new way of working
Refreeze: Fix everyone in a new way of doing things.
This is a simple model, but it’s one you must use if you want your project deliverables really to stick.
He said, “There’s no magic in this place.” It’s not difficult. Project management is not difficult. The trick is to apply common sense and discipline.
Communicate aggressively to stakeholders
He explained that people will act as though the worst is coming. People don’t care whether the change is good for the organisation; they only care about the implications for them. James stressed the importance communication. He said, “Communicate aggressively.” “Provide constant reassurance.”
Communication between stakeholders should be:
Regular: Already planned in the calendar
Personal: Take the time to get to know every stakeholder during the project so that you don’t have to be the first to tell them bad news.
Balance: Don’t just share bad news, but also celebrate successes.
Get stakeholders involved in the journey
Consider how you will help your stakeholders along the way. They will need to be trained on the new solution or deliverables you are implementing, but what about:
Training them in the project methodology
Talking to them about managing and creating requirements
Clarify organisational roles and responsibilities
Changes in business processes.
They feel more confident about how they will get there. This helps them feel more confident about the changes and how they will be achieved.
He also suggested listening to all things, even those you can’t control or change. Sometimes people just want to hear their voices.
Plan for success
James spoke about concrete steps that can be taken to bring people with you to the change. He ended by recommending how to plan for acceptance. This is the final stage of the change management journey. It helps people to see that you have reached the end and that new ways of working are finally possible.
Establish a mentoring program and ensure that all participants have received training on the deliverables. It is important to define what the end result of the project will look like and how you will know if it has been successful. You can communicate your project success criteria and measure yourself against them. Read more about how to do this here.
No matter what you do, it will make your project more successful if you ensure good stakeholder communication and effective change management. James stated that there is a lot of theory and practice, but knowledge and judgment are the best tools to help you succeed. Your project stakeholders will be grateful for your efforts.