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Effecting Change in a Large Company

At this point in my career, I’ve been on a few projects that seem to have a large change management component. It took some time to realize the weight and gravity of the change management component and to really take it seriously enough to devote a significant part of a resource’s time to create collateral to support the change. There are a few things I’ve learned over the years that I would like to share in regard to change management:

  1. Almost every, if not all, projects have a change management component.
  2. If you’re driving change within a company, you’ll need top down and bottom up support.
    1. I was of the mind that either top down or bottom up support would be sufficient. However, in no organization have I seen that to truly be the case. I’ve been within organizations that rely on bottom up support. Even those need a level of top down interaction and buy-in. For the organizations where I have been which rely mostly on top down support (which may be more common today in large companies) an executive driven mandate will lose steam if not upheld by others and if people don’t understand why this change is necessary and what role they play within the change. Now my strategy for change management is officially two pronged: bottom up and top down simultaneously. You need to build the relationships on both ends and spread the word around the organization. Some will think of it as similar to being a politician.
  3. Depending on the size of the initiative, you’ll need to dedicate a half time resource or a full time resource to create the change management plan, documentation, and collateral to effect your desired change.
  4. Recognize that 70% of initiatives fail.
  5. Always network, talk to people, and have your points for why this is a good idea and why it should be embraced. Have that 30 second elevator pitch handy.

Although this isn’t a fool-proof way to ensure your desired change will take place, it should help you think about your project in terms of change management and maybe then you’ll anticipate needs by adding time to address the change management aspect of your project.

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