Change factors

Change: A little less talk and little more action

Digital transformation is a name given to the wave of change that is breaking across all industries as organisations seek to harness the power of digital to innovate in services and products. The same wave is breaking on how companies work internally — internal systems are starting to be subject to the same multiple, ongoing change efforts.

Many intranet business cases; automating services from HR; improving engagement with social media, and using collaboration to increase innovation are part of these efforts and this means a greater focus on managing change for intranet teams.

So intranet teams need change management as part of their skill set, but just what is involved in the detail of managing change? What does effective change management look like on the ground?

The usual suspects

There is consensus, it seems, that communication is an important factor in successful change management. It’s also true to say that employees have a pretty jaded view about change communications. Ghosted articles from the C suite explaining why the new system will make life better for everyone are often ignored or disbelieved.

Training similarly is universally recognised as a factor in making change efforts successful. U.S. firms alone spent $164 billion on training in 2013 (source: ASTD State of industry report 2013) at least in part because they believe that it can deliver successful change.

Are these two factors the most important? Change Track Research measured the effectiveness of 25,000 change projects and found that training and communication did not have the biggest impact on successful change. They found that projects that relied on communication and training alone were unlikely to deliver the expected business improvements from the change project (source: Taking the Guesswork out of Change Management).

Instead, they found that projects which paid attention to the following cluster of less talked about factors as well as communication and training were most successful:

  • management commitment;
  • systems and processes;
  • passion and drive;
  • involvement;
  • managing risk and overcoming resistance.

All had a greater impact on success. This cluster of factors, which can make change successful, remain less discussed with fewer practical examples of how they can be done really well.

Change success factorsLess talked about, less explained factors

What is the role of teams in getting and maintaining management commitment? If we accept that ghost-written articles published on your intranet are not a sign of real management commitment, then what is?  What are the links with communications? What are the best practices in this area?

What are the systems and processes that work in helping manage change? How are digital dashboards and personalised messages, which provide just-in-time feedback being used by teams to support new behaviours and monitor adoption of new ways of working?

How do teams act to manage risks inherent in changing the way things are done? What does genuine involvement in change look like? And, most precious and rare, in this cynical world can you create passion and drive about change?

I confess this article is a tease; I have many questions but few answers. It’s a plea for more practical case based contributions from intranet teams who are successfully managing change, more application of the excellent theories and methods which are out there.

So if you have any answers or even a better set of questions, we still have slots at Intranet Now for those that are walking the walk as well as talking the talk. Tweet me, or email me on if you’d like to speak at our conference.

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