Change management is a misleading term believes Seugnet van den Berg, MD of consulting firm Bizmod. “It has developed a bad reputation over the years and is seen as a luxury approach for business.” Instead, she prefers the term user involvement as it is the users’ adoption of the new system or approach that will ultimately result in success or failure.
By using the term “user involvement”, it is easier for management to understand the necessity of this process and realise that it is not a soft or optional approach,” says van den Berg. There are two approaches to user involvement – transactional versus transformation. The transactional process is suited to project engagement as this helps to outline what the project must achieve and what the company’s expectations of the user are. The transformational approach is suited to large-scale changes with a requirement to change the culture of the organisation. In a project context, we still find that many organisations operate in silos and therefore the role of communicating to a number of stakeholders across departments can become complicated and difficult. In a recent project to standardise IT services we found that there is a view that an application will sort out the duplication of services resulting in complexity and inefficiencies within the service delivery model. More often than not, the requirement is for a structural change and not implementing yet another application. A typical challenge when focussing on structural changes is the fundamental mind shift change that is required from employees. Not only do you require them to adapt to a new way of processing work but you also organise them differently. These are big changes for users. Often budget does not allow for a large user involvement team and a more creative approach is required. One way of dealing with this is large-scale user education as a precursor to change impact work. Van den Berg says that a visual and engaging approach to the education provides a non-threating environment in which to communicate. Making use of project showcase days, newsletters and info graphics allows the information to be communicated in a creative and effective manner. This approach forces participants to actively engage with the content early on in the process, which leads to more collaborative and adoptive stakeholders,” says van den Berg. By focussing on user involvement, a complex project can be adopted by a diverse audience to own and be part of. “A typical boardroom environment is still underpinned by the hierarchy of mushroom management and this creative approach is a novel way to explore processes in a non-judgmental environment,” concludes van den Berg.