Project Plan vs Change Plan

Last week I facilitated a workshop on change management for the US Program staff at Save the Children.  I worked with a wonderful trainer from Save the Children, Emily Stumph (standing to the left of picture above)..  Emily had just recently been through ADP training delivered by GSK trainers and was a great partner to work with.

I have been responsible for leading several change initiatives in prior roles and it was a valuable experience for me to facilitate this workshop because it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the importance of communication and stakeholder engagement.  It is often easier for me to move through a to do list or project plan, checking off tasks and the softer, less measurable activities involved in change management get forgotten.

Two way communication, identifying your stakeholders and understanding their perspectives are critical in change management. Your stakeholders don’t need to agree with everything you are doing, but in order for you to explain the change, you need to understand stakeholder impact and manage expectations in a transparent way.

The picture below is from the last breakout session during the workshop which involved creating a change story.

workshop

A clear change story describes the reason for and benefits of the change and how it is going to be accomplished.  It enables better engagement with stakeholders and alignment of the organization.   Allowing time for discussion and listening to stakeholders is key in creating support for the change.  There are many times when people don’t agree with change, but when you listen and discuss the change in an open transparent way, you increase the chances of them coming along with you.

The last big project I worked on had a change management workstream and I occasionally felt annoyed by the lovely woman we had engaged as a change management consultant because I felt that she wanted to talk about those softer things before we had a firm plan in place. I am now the person pushing change management in Save the Children and see how early engagement of key stakeholders improves the change process and informs your project plan.

I know first hand that it’s not always comfortable letting go of an idea or an initiative that you have been responsible for leading and letting others in on it. But engaging others to help with implementation is part of change management.  Things may end up a bit different than you initially imagined, but in the end the engagement of others will deliver the best solution.  You need to trust others to help guide and shape the implementation.