Change champions are often overlooked as an effective communication resource in a Maximo project, or worse, brought in just before go-live to ‘get buy in’ from users. Regardless of the size of the Maximo project, changes to systems and process have a bigger impact for end users than you think.
“It’s impossible for a small program or project team to access the number of employees needed to effect change and deliver program results”(Kotter, 2011)1
Here’s the good news! Engaging and supporting change champions is an effective way to inform and connect with end users about Maximo change at a peer-to-peer level.
Setting up a Change Champion Network (CCN) is not time consuming or costly. The change champion is a role in the organisation just like any other. The likelihood is that it will be a part-time role, perhaps a few hours a week, but it is a role nonetheless and should be treated as such.
Follow these 5 steps to success in setting up your CCN.
1. Formalise the role
DO: Formalise the role by detailing the responsibilities, the desired skillset and behaviours required to fulfil the role. Not everyone can be a champion. A common mistake is thinking that the project team are the champions, however, the champions should be end users who are relatable to their peers.
DON’T: Just volunteer people for the role. Advertise the role internally and encourage those who you feel have the correct skills to go for it. Champions must have a desire to participate and a willingness to embrace the change. In many instances where individuals are placed in the role without enthusiasm , they become reluctant champions, and this can be detrimental to the project.
Volunteer not Volunteered. A typical ratio is 1 champion per business unit.
2. Engage Early
DO: Get early buy-in from the champions, they will understand the ‘why’ and the impacts early, they can also validate the as-is and to-be states. You are taking them on the project journey and in turn they will take the business on the journey too. They are your project pioneers, forging the path for those who follow.
DON’T: Wait until just before go-live to engage the champions. The CCN will have limited influence or credibility without the appropriate background and knowledge of the project outcomes.
Gartner suggests that “Change resistance is a myth”. They suggest that end users will support goals when they understand what needs to be done. Champions put a face to the change and create understanding among users to influence successful change.
DO: Provide a proper induction as you would for an employee in a new role. This is the opportunity to set expectations and agree desired outcomes. The champions need to have the ability to distil positive messages about the change and become the translator between project team and end user. They should have a direct line of report to the project team member responsible for managing the change, training, and communications.
DON’T: Expect that change champions are able to make decisions about process or system changes. or for the champion to develop the message content, this is not their responsibility and needs clarity and consistency across the project
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place”George Bernard Shaw
4. Training and Support
DO: Put in place appropriate channels and tools to support the CCN. Set up a community of practice (on MS Teams) where the CCN will collaborate with each other. Agree the communication processes that will allow the CNN to work with corporate comms and the project team to ensure consistent messaging. The CCN should be equipped to answer questions such as “what will happen to my job?” or “What’s in it for me?” and even pre-empt some of these questions.
Ensure further CCN training and support is available throughout the project either directly from the business or via an external consultancy.
DON’T: Expect champions to carry out this role over and above their ‘day job’. They need time and support from their Line Manager to commit a 2-5 hours a week to focus on their role as a CNN.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”Socrates
5. Reward and Celebrate
DO: Acknowledge and applaud the role of the CCN in the success of the project throughout. Involve them in post-project celebrations. The CNN must be championed!
DON’T: Assume they will become superusers or continue in the CCN role long-term without support and time to spend on their role as a champion.
The best way to cope with change is to help create it.
This small investment in your CNN to support the larger community will ensure a significant return and the increased likelihood of success of your long-term business goal. The CNN provide the basis of a sustainable communication channel as you move forward to optimising your system and processes beyond go-live.
In the words of Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.
Click image to enlarge
- “Change Fatigue: Taking Its Toll on Your Employees?” by John Kotter, Forbes, 15 September 2011 (www.forbes.com/sites/johnkotter/2011/09/15/can-i-use-this-method-for-change-in-my-organization).
Electra would like to dedicate this article to Bradley Allan who was a prominent figure in the Maximo Community. RIP Bradley, gone but not forgotten.
Enabling Change Through Learning