You may think your roadmap is complete …
… Technically he probably is, but then you’re only halfway there!
The roadmap plays an important role in all projects, and rightly so. Still, many projects are getting off the rails. How is that possible? Has the project been misjudged? Are the people not competent? That could all be possible, but often it is not because of that.
It starts with the basic problem. This almost always has to do with a technical issue. Not always completely, but certainly often to a large extent. This could be a new software system, your own app, a new way of working, a relocation, a combination of all of this or… And so on and so on.
A technical part requires a technical solution, doesn’t it? And so it often happens that a team is deployed here that I just disrespectfully call the technical people. In any case, those specialists with a focus on technology. From their background, they naturally focus on the technical aspects of a project. The rollout or implementation is divided into pieces and plotted on a timeline. This creates the roadmap with its ins and outs. This roadmap is discussed and viewed every week. The core team keeps a close eye on the planning and monitors progress. So far so good, right?
All attention is focused on the technical aspect, but the human side remains a blind spot.
But why does a project often not run smoothly? Which part is underexposed in almost every roadmap? That’s the human factor. Of course, every self-respecting project manager has included the communication moments and any training in the roadmap. But that’s the crux, people don’t change through a number of newsletters, posters, powerpoints and training sessions. Apart from the fact that people differ too much from each other to approach them all in the same way. After all, everyone processes new information in a different way. Some are visual. Others more auditory. One person wants to hear the new information thoroughly, 1 maximum 2 times. The other wants a tailor-made training. While a 3rd just wants to learn by doing.
David Kolb (1983) investigated different learning styles and summarized them in a model. He makes a distinction between 4 learning styles. The number of learning styles is not that important in itself, but the idea behind it is. If you know someone else’s learning style, you can adjust the way you want to convey your message accordingly. This way your message is better recognized by the recipient.
A lot of work? Yes, or actually no, not at all. But if you don’t approach people in a differentiated way, then it is our opinion you are under-performing, then you are simply not doing enough. Bad news for those who try to get people on board with a simple “one size fits all” approach. Actions like this are doomed to fail.
Can this be solved? Of course it can!
The fact that the client recognizes that you need support for the technical part, already takes you halfway through. Now you need the specialization for the human part. Someone who is concerned with how far the group is before, or in, the change.
Someone who sees how strong each individual link is and how you can further strengthen it. A specialist in the human side within a change who can fulfil this part of the project management, who can maintain it and also the person who takes responsibility for it. Such a person can also indicate the expected pace and can therefore predict the feasibility for this side of the project. This planning together with that of the technical side determine the actual time line of the project.
Okay, that’s the theory. But what does that look like? For this we go back to the roadmap or planning and look at those moments where the human aspect, influence if you like, are important.
Just in between, are these on it? I have already come across roadmaps that do not contain this at all! But suppose it is there. Does this also include the risk of failure? By this I mean that if this part is not sufficient, the project will be delayed.
Just as an illustration. Let’s say a training is scheduled on date X. People are all coming. And they all undergo this training. What do you do when not everyone goes through the training with good results.?Or when the training has raised many questions and unrest. Is there a plan to overcome that? Do you accept that the project now has a problem that prevents you from continuing (at the moment).
It is my experience that clients and project managers can easily overcome this. They don’t see this as a real problem. “Just send another newsletter” or “Let them get back in line via supervisors or managers”. You hear something like that from them. That while, and that is an example that I use more often, if a technical part would not be present at that time or if a cable is just one meter too short, everyone immediately understands that there is a problem. Then it is all hands on deck and solve this problem as quickly as possible.
Taking the people with you is scheduled as training or education in between. If we were to plan a technical aspect with the same attention (e.g. “then we tie the systems together”), then the sh*&% hits the fan.
So it is about taking an important, but underexposed, factor in your transition seriously; the human factor. But how do you do that? How does such a change manager work? I will not comment on how other change managers work. I can tell you how we approach this. In short, it means that you want to know where you stand. Where you want to go. And what you still have to do to achieve that. We are looking for landmarks. We all go through the following points in a project. Not necessarily consecutively, there is often an overlap in time.
1. We want to know who we are dealing with.
Inventory of the willingness to change
Firstly, we want to know whether people are willing to change. You’ll find out by talking to people. Hop into that organization and talk to them. Well, talk, actually listen a lot more. Listening to their previous experiences with changes. Do they already have experiences in this organization with changes? Listening to their need for change. Listening to bears and opportunities. To elephants in the room and wanting to break through the walls.
Inventory of the change capacity
Next, we want to know whether what people want, they can actually do. We can measure this through a number of tests. We map this together with the data from the conversations that we have already conducted throughout the organization.
2. Visualize everything
Visualizing the steps and the experiences
The next step is to outline the entire change process. Literally drawing each step. Not a cold timeline with bullet points, but by the imagining of the steps. Our experience is by visualizing each step, people also know what to expect and how to prepare for it. Even more powerfully, people are much more likely to understand where you are going and what you need for it.
Alliances will emerge and the number of supporters will increase. We are not talking about the well-known dot on the horizon, but about every important step, every experience (visualizing the employee journey). Because people understand the journey well and make it their own, they also feel responsible for their part of the whole. This also contributes to the overall success.
3. Take the people further with you.
Further development of the change capacities
Now is the time to take people even further into the change. From the inventory we know which gap needs to be closed. That does not happen automatically, of course, they must be helped with that. We do this through training, education and by exchanging experiences (training the change capacities). Because people already participate in the change based on their own responsibility, the questions to train them further will also come much more from themselves.
Experiencing and further coaching of employee change
As the change takes place step by step, people experience that what we first visualized is now becoming reality (experience the employee journey). This gives confidence in the rest of the process. We still do not let go of people and we guide them through the story (coaching through the process).
4. After the change there is a new position
Positioning & communication plans
Because a new situation arises after the change, everything also takes a new position. That does not come out of nowhere. And we also leave nothing to chance, we put this in a plan (positioning plan). In the plan we see the new position, but also the connections with other parts of the organization and beyond. Throughout the entire process, we involve stakeholders in our experiences, goals and expectations (communication plan).
Consideration. What does your roadmap look like?
Now that you know what we think is important in a roadmap, you have probably thought about your roadmap soon. Do you recognize the situation? Do you know what kind of people you have in your team? Do you have a clear story to the people of what you want to achieve? And above all what kind of (mind) image do they have of the destination, but certainly also of the journey to it. I hope you think about our way of working. We think it can benefit your projects. Would you like to exchange thoughts with us about how this would work for you? Please, let us know. Feel free to contact us and we will drink a (virtual) coffee together.
If you are not convinced yet, take a look at our site (essentiedenkers.be) and be inspired (by the blogs, the articles or our book). This is often the last push to convince people.
© 2020 Essentiedenkers
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