A few weeks ago, the CEO of Ford Motor Company was fired. The reason: the company was not moving fast enough to compete in the upcoming automated car market. It’s a real world example why speed isn’t just a nice to have… it’s a business necessity. The need to do a better job of delivering faster, better change has never been greater. Quite simply, organizations who are able to implement faster are one step ahead of their competition, ultimately meaning they are more successful.
As a Change Agent, how do you manage this constant churn of change in an environment that doesn’t slow down for even a second? As one of the participants in our recent AIM Accreditation program so eloquently stated, “The high-speed train doesn’t stop while we are trying to transform it.”
Change Management: Your Ticket to Speed
While Senior Executives and Project Managers often think “change management” is going to slow them down, the fact is that done right, it actually speed things up! Every organization can become better and faster at implementing change by applying process, discipline, and rigor. But, caution ahead. By process, discipline and rigor we don’t mean just “doing” templates and checklists. In our opinion, if an activity isn’t high impact and leading to speed, why are you doing it?
The Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) is designed to use the limited resources you have to get the maximum amount of benefit out of your implementation in the shortest amount of time. It is not a lock-step protocol. Instead, it is meant to be used in a fit to purpose way. It is a flexible process based on what is occurring at the moment, rather than what is next on the to-do list. It’s principle based, so you are thinking through what to do based on the “hand of cards” you have in front of you at the moment.
Below are 4 tips from the Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) on how to accelerate implementation:
- Define the Change in Terms of Human Behavior
The starting point for every change, whether it is transformational in scope or a minor procedural one, has to be a clear, compelling definition of the change. It sounds so basic... but this essential, first step is all too often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of a real time organizational change.
Most projects have a project charter that states objectives for a timeline, a budget, and the technical objectives. Where the problem typically lies is the lack of a commonly-held definition of the business and human objectives. Commonly held means that the Sponsors agree to all five dimensions up front (objectives for time, budget, and all business, technical, and human objectives.) These human objectives are the behaviors you need to see in the future if the change is implemented successfully. What we are doing? Why are we doing it, and what are the consequences if we don’t succeed? What are the new behaviors we need and that we will be able to observe in the future, and how will we measure those behaviors?
- Build a Cascade of Sponsors who are Expressing, Modeling and Reinforcing
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: Sponsorship is the single most critical success factor in ensuring a fast and successful implementation of any type of business change. But we aren’t talking about the actions of one individual Sponsor; we are talking about the “cascade” of demonstrated leaders’ commitment, publically and privately, level by management level. “Demonstrated Commitment” is the observable Expressing, Modeling, and Reinforcing by the leader for the initiative. Think of it like a staircase where the change moves down one step at a time. When leaders skip management levels and go straight to the Targets they make an all too common mistake that creates dangerous “Black Holes.” These black holes do nothing more than slow down or even put a stop to your implementation.
- Build Trust
Trust and speed are functional. The higher the level of trust, the greater the speed of implementation, and the fewer resources needed. Sponsor credibility is essential. Every Sponsor’s direct reports need to believe in them, and believe the Sponsor believes in the change. Trust is built when what Sponsors say is aligned with what they do and what they reinforce. Getting alignment around Express, Model, and Reinforce is a simple formula for building trust and speed, but it requires a significant amount of business discipline to make it happen.
- If You Don’t Change the Reinforcement You Don’t Get the Change
Reinforcement is your organization’s most powerful tool in order to get people to change their behavior. There is a fundamental principle of human behavior that states, “People follow reinforcement.” That's why Don Harrison, developer of the AIM Methodology tells our clients that "Every time you see a behavior, there either is or was a reward for it." There is no behavior that occurs in isolation. But remember, reinforcement management is less about the formal compensation and performance management systems, and much more about the daily interaction between a Sponsor and his or her direct reports. Sponsors are reinforcing behavior, consciously, or sub-consciously, every single day, through application of positive rewards and negative consequences. They can either reinforce “staying the same,” or they can reinforce “change” by their own actions.
The AIM change management approach is named Accelerating Implementation for a reason! We know your organization is moving at the speed of light, so we built a practical, high-impact change management framework that ensures business-critical projects are implemented to achieve maximum benefit in the shortest amount of time. Quicker. Faster. Better! Full speed ahead!