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  • Lori Janosko

How to incorporate agile OCM into your next project

If you’re like most business leaders, the start of a new project (transformation, system stand up or process change) brings to mind a laundry list of to-dos that should have been started yesterday. Even the most well-intentioned leaders often forget to incorporate an Organizational Change Management (OCM) work stream into their implementation playbook. It’s truly ironic, since most organizational studies show a direct link between strong OCM efforts and ability to achieve business objectives (you did what you set out to do).

If we learned anything from the 2020 pandemic, we know that change is here to stay. Managers who know how to leverage the power of their teams will have the easiest time navigating what is sure to be increasingly turbulent waters of international business.

Don't know how to get started? Here are some tips for incorporating agile OCM into your next initiative:

1. People really are your most important asset – and their level of engagement, active participation and ultimate buy-in will directly determine if you succeed or fail. Make the commitment early to have a plan to move your people through the change successfully. This translates to having a good, solid strategy around communications, engagement and sponsorship. Since resistance is a natural and common part of organizational change, it’s important to think through how it will be managed when it occurs.

2. The devil is in the details – so pay attention to the little things that make a big difference in how you run your project. If your team is multinational, think about securing a resource for interpretation support for your kickoff and subsequent workshop sessions. Professional interpreters are highly skilled at providing this level of support during a meeting. This is done by setting up two instances of your conference platform: One for the master meeting, and the other for interpretation support. Stakeholders who prefer to hear the meeting in their own language can login to the master meeting and go on mute. With a separate device, they can also login to the meeting instance with the interpreter to hear the content in their own language.

3. Prepare your stakeholders - By providing detailed information in preparation for meetings, workshops and project assessments. Don’t just send a save-the-date or meeting invitation without any background info. Remember that members of your project team and your stakeholders have full-time roles and responsibilities in addition to their role on the project team. Take the time to explain what’s going to happen and provide some context for your meeting. This goes a long way in helping people mentally prepare and be engaged in your topic. There tends to be more of a willingness to engage when people understand expectations and feel like they have an overview of the material. Documents like a master deck or FAQ provide a great reference and keep people up to date about the project details.

4. Establish a Change Advocate Network – and teach others to be champions for your program. Your change advocate network can be one of the best resources for helping you gain adoption and sustaining the change for the long-term. However, these networks need to be coached and managed. Supplying the right information, materials, and tools to help them do their job is a vital step in setting up a successful network that’s able to perform their responsibilities and advocate for the project. Monthly update meetings are highly recommended to keep this group informed and engaged.

5. Involve OCM early and often – because there is a lot of important pre-work that can be done to lay the foundation for the change. OCM will need to collect important information and draft key documents early in the change process to ensure the project team is on the same page from kickoff to delivery. Involve your OCM team early and check in often to ensure you get the best results for your efforts.

While nothing takes the place of a comprehensive OCM strategy, led by an expert practitioner, you can make a difference in your project by committing to a few small changes that will enable your stakeholders to better understand and align with your goals. Remember, it’s the people in the organization who embrace and adopt change. Keep them top of mind when planning and executing your initiatives.


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