The most important step when implementing change in an organisation is to undertake a stakeholder analysis. And particularly when that change will impact the entire organisation it is important to start thinking at the outset like a lobbyist about to visit politicians, you need to be clear about where to focus your efforts, who is supportive of your area, who is a key influencer of whom, how can you quickly demonstrate the benefits the change will bring?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions from the outset then your change program is going to take a very long time to get traction, you might implement a new software system for example but few people will think it adds value, so engagement will take a long time to achieve.
Similarly if you are implementing a new strategy, be this for example performance measurement schemes, or new health and safety initiatives it is important that you get advocates for your change initiatives within the business and from the top. Change for these types of initiatives are only successful when there is a paradigm shift by the business and they see the value of your services and expertise in helping them with their business decisions and managing risk. If it is something that you need to continual to sell as a value add then you have not analysed your stakeholders well. They should be extolling the value of the change to their business counterparts, not you.
So here are some tips on how to strategise when it comes to which stakeholders to engage and what to do next.
1. The first step is to analyse stakeholders at the top of the organisation. What are their current views on the value of the services you provide? Who will be willing to run a pilot in their area of the changes that you want to make? How quickly are you able to demonstrate quick wins to sway those who think it is yet another change initiative that will come to pass with little value to the business. You need to know who thinks what before you plan how you will communicate change and what you will say.
This leads me to the next point which is so often overlooked in organisations when one part of the business is leading change that will impact the rest of the business.
2. As Peter Drucker has been quoted as saying, “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling him.” Companies need to take a customer perspective to succeed with implementation of change. Take this view when you are communicating change within your organisation. What is it that other business units want to “buy” from your area, what do they think you could do to add value, and then provide the change in those terms, their terms.
There are a number of reasons why strategic change typically takes 3 – 5 years to get traction within an organisation. Two of the key reasons are failure to undertake a stakeholder analysis and thinking that telling everyone the same thing is going achieve the change in behaviour you are seeking.
And secondly because typically with service type areas we speak in our technical speak as it pertains to the work that we do. When introducing change we then defer to our language and what we perceive the benefits are to the rest of the organisation. However it always needs to be in language the customer understands and that the value conveyed so that it is meaningful to them, not us.