If you build it, they will (most likely not) come

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By Guest on 20 November 2018
If you build it, they will (most likely not) come

Based on Deloitte’s recent Human Capital Trends report, digitalisation is taking over organisations faster than expected. Over 70% of respondents deem the area important, but less than one third feel ready to address it. The same report in 2016 showed that more than 90% of business decision makers saw the change as critical to their organisation. Due to a new type of workforce entering companies, the challenge is greater than ever.
 
As digitalisation is the driving force of change, projects are often realised as IT implementations. Due to the rise of services like Microsoft Office 365 taking centre stage of enterprise communication and collaboration, the task of renewing a company’s working methods can be as simple as an intranet renewal. A new intranet does not seem critical to business, but it is. The challenges start as the change is seen as an inanimate system, rather than a human way of working and collaborating with peers.
 
Just like Kevin Costner assumed that baseball legends would come and play at his stadium in ‘Field of Dreams’, we expect the users to be motivated about our new system, as long as it has enough features.
 
IT projects like intranet renewal used to involve significant amounts of time and money spent on a key stakeholder. However, cloud services and packages have enabled companies to minimise these investments.
 
This type of development would be excellent for achieving the expected business outcomes if the saved money was used in proper user support. However, these projects are still seen as IT implementations rather than change projects. As cloud services are minimising the technological investments, the training budgets are reduced as well.
 
The need for proper training and support is also overlooked due to project leaders’ accumulated insight. As they have been digesting the value proposition of modern work for a long time, it is easy to forget how they felt at the beginning of the project. Over time, fans of traditional communication have become advocates of networked collaboration – but people around have not.
 
Instead of concentrating on features, cutting-edge implementation partners rely on the power of customer success management. As stated in my earlier blog, the game has changed - technology providers have to deliver every day. Companies deploying these solutions for their own use should adopt the same attitude, taking people into the centre of the delivery process.
 
The Prosci ADKAR Model (awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, reinforcement) provides a great framework for companies to evaluate the efficacy of their IT implementation plan.
 
Traditionally, IT projects use only the K (knowledge) from ADKAR. Instead of encouraging people to learn new skills, the user training is summarised into a few classroom training sessions and PowerPoint bulletins. The core group of people involved in the project ignores the fact that other organisation members are not yet familiar with the context matter.
 
Therefore, the first two steps of ADKAR (awareness and desire) are the main factors for project success. User motivation is a key driver for success and should take place throughout the process. Taking awareness creation and putting it into action is not complicated; it requires considering others, which can be realised in open communication, demonstrative videos, and interactive sessions to encourage the user to get on board with the change.
 
After understanding the necessity of the change and the personal benefits it offers, the user will be more willing to learn. With experience, the user can turn this new knowledge into ability to change the actions. However, it is also worth noting that there is room for improvement in the training methodologies. According to surveys, classroom training is one of the weakest ways to learn. Therefore, champion programs, advice from a colleague, or a timely video in the right context are recommended.
 
The last element of support is re-enforcement. It enables the transformation of new models into habits. Positive feedback helps the user feel good about his accomplishments and encourages him to improve further. This builds a foundation for change and a network-like organisation, which was the initial goal of intranet renewal. Games, praise, awards and other forms of gamification enable encouraging means of acknowledging external and internal motivation factors.
 
With the right steps, this challenge can end happily. While Kevin Costner was disappointed after being misled by his dreams, hopefully these companies will do better. With the help of change management, companies can move their focus from IT projects to people. Start with the individual, give a reason, show the value and give thanks. The players of the organisation will come to the stadium of change and play for the reform. 

JP Wirta is head of business development and partnerships at Happit.

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