Once in a blue moon a change initiative comes along that stakeholders have screamed, pleaded and begged for. The environment is so ripe for this change that the change process has to be tightly controlled. Policing can stifle motivation though.
What to do?
Borrow from the marketers.
The latest (well executed so far) example:
LinkedIn has completely redesigned profile and company pages. They sent out invites (I am in the under one million group so I get these sneak previews) to beta test the new pages. Then the next day all the LinkedIn employees sites converted to the new format. As far as I can tell there was no big announcement (It was mentioned two days ago at the LinkedIn blog).
Take a look – Paul Slakey, Director Global Services and Solutions.
There will be mini announcements now. I am one of the mini-mini announcers (hey I get to be a “Change Champion”!).
Soon people beyond the original employees will start to show the profile.
Each wave of reveal, yes each Teaser, will build momentum.
At some point, when things have been tested by those picky first beta users, a real announcement can be made and the “roll-out” can begin. In fact I would say just past the super users is the start of Adoption.
Watch this all unfold in real time. It is an example of marketing and sales processes lining up with certain kinds of change processes.
My own example, used a couple of times:
For internal social media change engagements (like Portal creation, SharePoint, Yammer ads and others) create a mixed group of stakeholders that represent a spectrum of probably-for-this, maybe-not and not-likely. Stir that mix up with technically skilled and not so (be really solid in your group pick and get a mix of the mix- like someone technical who will “resist”).
- Use this group for the focus group sessions to come up with needs, wants and fanciful end states.
- Use this group to test versions created from their feedback.
- Use this group to reach out to others (have them pledge to explain the new change to a certain amount of people in order to participate in the development process).
- Include this group much later for continued sustainability interaction and improvement of the change.
Simple stuff. Obvious components of any kind of product or service roll out. Social media adds a cultural aspect, but really, how is this example any different than most big operational roll outs?
It is not… if you do not play it out as a change initiative. A change initiative with flair (and just the right kind of control).
For each of these four steps above tease ahead of time.
Bullet one: Make it possible to hear of this change and about this group-who-will-get-a-head-start. Give enough time for word (buzz, myth?) to spread so that people can volunteer. Get a list that could be the group and add others because of expertise or history (of willingness and not so).
Bullet two: After this focus group work starts add in others. Separate them as new groups and add them to existing groups for focus sessions. You are strategically broadening the loop of interaction and connection by doing so.
Bullet three: Reach out to a few of the people on those promised lists ahead of time. Let your champions know those particular individuals will be ready to hear about this change. (Added plus- have your first group tell you how many people already knew without the teasers).
Bullet four: Knowing that you will include the original group in follow up, do the same with other smaller groups that were started later (or have some distinct connection to the end state or the adaption to another end state).