How’s this for irony? You’ve finally convinced your senior executives about the benefits of applying structure to the people-side of projects. You’ve been approved to implement a new change management methodology across the organization. This is great news, and of course, you’ve selected the Accelerating Implementation
Methodology (AIM) as your change management process of choice. You’re so smart!
But, and here’s the irony in the situation… implementing a new change management methodology (whether it’s AIM or any other) is actually a perfect example of a strategic change that holds the same challenges as any other enterprise change! Changing the way you implement across the entire organization means you are going to need to ensure you are planning for Sponsorship, Reinforcement, Readiness and Communications. In other words, you’re going to need change management to implement change management!
Implementing Change Management Requires Change Management
So, while it may seem ironic, in order to deploy AIM within your organization, you need to treat this as a strategic project and use AIM to identify and mitigate risks on the people-side. If you don’t, you can anticipate resistance and the very real risk that the organization will simply revert back to implementation and project management as usual, losing a terrific opportunity to make significant strides in speed and implementation success.
Moving from learning the language and principles of AIM, to the realities of implementing the methodology from a practical project application perspective takes commitment, thorough planning, and involvement from key organizational people. Organizations should:
- Select the right individuals and build a skilled team of Change Agents
- Focus on building Sponsorship in all the impacted areas
- Plan a comprehensive approach for using AIM (or your selected model)
- Rigorously follow the AIM principles, scaled to the implementation
- Take a project-based approach; don’t train everyone across the enterprise. Use a few key projects as demonstrations and opportunities to build capability to use the methodology
Implementation Planning for AIM Using AIM
The high-level strategy below highlights some of the key activities you will need to address to implement your change management model. It’s foundation is to use “AIM on AIM.” These steps are not necessarily designed to be all-inclusive, but to give you an idea of what activities and deliverables should include. The end result is that you can build a strategic implementation plan for your implementation.
- Defining the Change - As with any change, develop a compelling Business Case for Action that clearly states what is changing, why are we making this change, and what are the consequences if we are not successful. It’s also important to identify the “human objectives” for implementing change management. Specifically, what groups will be impacted, and what are the new behaviors you are seeking to see in the future state? Ask yourself, if we were really using the change management model in the way we hoped, what would people be doing differently?
- Generating Sponsorship - Sponsorship for this change isn’t the responsibility of one executive. It is the responsibility of every individual who has direct reports that are impacted by the change. Change is accelerated when what these leaders say, do, and reinforce and are all aligned and demonstrate commitment to the change. Use Sponsor Contracting techniques to make sure your “asks” are specific and actionable. It is far too easy for Sponsors to say they “support” change management without taking ownership of what they need to do differently themselves!
- Developing Target Readiness - One of the mistakes organizations often make is waiting far too long to start to build readiness for a business change. Then building readiness becomes a reactive activity. Instead, identify sources of potential resistance based on levels of disruption. And use involvement to build readiness.
- Building Communications - A communication plan is not the same thing as a complete implementation plan. It is just one piece of the puzzle. The AIM methodology centers communication efforts on delivering the right message, to the right audience, using the right communication vehicles, and always includes a feedback loop to gather reactions to both the content of the change, and how the change is being implemented. Communications about your new change management methodology is not a one-time email.
- Developing Reinforcement - One of AIM’s core principles is that there is no behavior change unless you change the reinforcements. Identify opportunities for positive rewards and negative consequences for those who work to meet new performance expectations and those who don’t. Align rewards and new expectations and ensure informal and formal reward systems are aligned. For example, what will be the rewards for individuals who are using the change management methodology on projects, and what will the consequences be for those who don’t?
The hard work of implementation (even when it is the implementation of a change management process) requires a practical, structured approach. That’s why (while slightly ironic) the idea of using AIM on AIM just makes sense. Have you planned your change management methodology implementation?