Managing the Change
Generally the only person who enjoys a change is a wet baby. Most others want things to remain the same, but get better.
Ask the CIO what was the hardest part of implementing the ERP solution, and the response will in all likelihood be “Getting users to commit.”
Chip and Dan Heath, authors of “Switch,” recommend attending to three perspectives if you want your people to commit to the new programme. Their method is designed for circumstances where change is hard – technically, emotionally, or socially. In the case of an ERP solution, the change is often all three - a technical, social, and emotional challenge.
Consider how committed a person will be when he is struggling with the technology. Consider how committed he will be when he used to be the “go-to” guy, and now he isn’t. Consider how committed he will be now he is in need of other’s help.
To manage the change process the Heath brothers use the image of an elephant with a rider perched on its neck, going down a path. The rider weighs 80kg, the elephant 5000kg, and the path is clear.
The elephant will go exactly where the rider wants it to, provided the elephant also wants to go there. If the elephant doesn’t want to go in that direction, the 80kg man will have a hard time directing the 5000kg elephant.
In this analogy, the rider is the intellect, the elephant is the emotions and the path is the environment. The intellect is weak against the power of the emotions. When making a change that is not easy, we have to do three things: Direct the rider; motivate the elephant; and shape the path.
We shape the path by making the environment as conducive to success as possible. Create a visual blueprint of the organization and the modeled processes, mapped onto the chosen ERP solution. Remove all obstacles - anything that makes mastery harder. Institute a buddy system, the helpdesk or a super user to provide support.
We direct the rider by making the change cognitively acceptable. Map each individual person’s roles within the organization onto the modeled blueprint of the business processes. By enabling the individuals to visualize the importance of their roles to the environment they work in, you will be motivating them to perform optimally.
We motivate the elephant by tapping into the emotions that the person would like to have. Example: I have mastered a new, complex skill – I am a lifetime learner. Then shrink the change, make it as simple as possible, don’t scare the elephant into inaction. Explain how the end point is not beyond them, that they will not be left on their own without resources, and through the blueprint they can identify with the steps they will need to take to be successful
Then harness the power of peer pressure to succeed. Celebrate the successes of a unit or even a person.
The bottom line: Don’t take buy-in for granted just because the change is necessary.
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