‘’If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go with others.’’
Change is never a solo effort. Because organizations are made up of people, to effectively manage change on a project, a Change Manager needs to have excellent skills in collaboration and integration.
Why do we need to get people to collaborate, though? The answer is simple: because we want to get their ‘’buy-in.’’ In a dictatorial or authoritative work environment (such as obtained in the Middle Ages), decisions were handed down from the top and people obeyed wordlessly. No questions were asked.
In the 21st century, however, gaining buy-in is critical to ensure compliance with anticipated and approved changes. Hence, savvy executives try to get people to be a part of the solution by employing techniques of effective collaboration.
Professor Steve Cady of BGS University broke down the process of change into 5 formulaic steps which he called the DxVxFxS>R formula. In this post, I’m going to use practical examples to show how these 5 steps can be effective building blocks for collaboration and change.
As the Project Manager of a large-scale, strategic project with national impact, you have the onerous task of managing and meeting the expectations of sponsors drawn from different functional areas and departments, with different interests and needs. How can you do this using Professor Cady’s method?
- Connect on a current data diagnosis of dissatisfaction and desire: Your first task is to identify the pain points of each sponsor. What do they care about? How is the project going to make a difference for them in their sphere of influence? Why should they care about this project? Far too many people are satisfied with mediocrity. Your job is to document your sponsors’ areas of dissatisfaction and tap into their unhappiness with the status quo. This stimulates desire and a sense of urgency.
- Focus on a vision that inspires and is ennobling: Having identified each sponsor’s area of dissatisfaction, you need to craft a vision of a better future. This will vary from sponsor to sponsor. The CIO wants avant-garde technology; the CFO wants affordable and low-cost solutions that will not break the bank while the CEO wants higher revenues and a sky-rocketing stock price to please the Board of Directors. You need to let each sponsor know his expectations can be met and share with them your road map for achieving the desired future state.
- Take first steps: Sharing quick wins is very important. Having raised the hopes of your sponsors, you need to let them know what results you can deliver within the next 3 months. By determining and prioritizing an immediate action plan, you demonstrate a spirit of innovation and commitment to your sponsors’ agenda.
- Build supporting mechanisms: After your first quick wins, you need to assure your stakeholders that the good results are sustainable by building in effective supporting mechanisms. This is where you establish new administrative methods, organizational structures, reporting systems, resource acquisition and deployment etc. This leads to accountability and trust.
- Managing Resistance: In carrying out the above four steps, the one constant is dialogue. Sharing useful information on progress helps to maintain momentum. Without this, your sponsors become skeptical and fearful and begin to desire the status quo.
In addition to following the DxVxFxS>R formula, successful collaboration requires a generous dose of self-awareness and emotional intelligence However, because people tend to support what they helped create, the importance of effective collaboration and stakeholder management cannot be overlooked for successful project delivery.