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Tag: Change Management

Utilizing Effective Communication to Affect Change – Lessons from the Field

Whether an organization is embarking upon an enterprise-wide restructuring or changing the flow of patients through a clinical area, the desired result is a change in the way in which work is accomplished.

Achieving this result requires the organization’s customers and staff to embrace and adopt the new ways associated with the change: create a shift in terms of the involved individuals’ behavior. Effective communication is a valuable tool in achieving the desired changes in an organization.

Effective communication throughout the lifecycle of the change initiative is required to enable and achieve a successful organizational change. Communication is the foundation for transferring the knowledge and creating the understanding associated with the specifics of the change. Our experience with a wide range of healthcare organizations indicates that when effective communication isn’t a part of a change initiative, success is difficult to achieve.

Whether on a personal or organizational level, change requires us to move from a relative homeostasis situation to one of chaos before returning to a ‘new’ state of homeostasis. Things may not look the same, the way in which we do things will change, and the environment in which we are now functioning may be different. One’s willingness and ability to accept and adapt to the change improves with an increased level of knowledge and understanding of the rationale for the change as well as the changes in behavior that are necessary to be successful. Effective communication is a powerful enabler to increasing individual knowledge and understanding.

Most successful organizational change initiatives embrace communication to accomplish several goals. The following represents the typical goals of our client base:

  1. Solicit input and feedback from a key constituency that engages them in the change;
  2. Review key aspects of the change and seek approval for next steps;
  3. Share information regarding the change, e.g., progress of the initiative;
  4. Recognize and ‘celebrate’ the initiative’s progress; and
  5. Transfer knowledge to the impacted constituencies of the change.

Most projects or change initiatives will want to develop and execute a communications approach to address all the goals identified above. The specific initiative will direct the scope and level of effort associated with each of the goals. For example, a hospital client that embarked upon a redesign of its clinics’ access process focused most of their communication efforts on the staff within the clinics impacted and their external patient population. Broad hospital organizational communication was limited to periodic progress reports to the senior leadership and recognizing the positive customer satisfaction scores resulting from the redesign. Within the clinics, all the goals were part of the project’s communication efforts. However, broader communication to the other hospital areas was not accomplished, creating confusion among the staff from these other areas when they interacted with the impacted clinics’ patients. Unfortunately, this resulted in the patients knowing more about the access process change than the employees of the hospital’s other departments.

This hospital client example is in contrast to the multi-provider healthcare system that simplified and standardized the process utilized to measure and monitor key patient quality indicators. The communication approach for this initiative embraced all five goals across multiple internal constituencies, including physician and hospital leadership, clinical providers, and patient quality staff. The result was a more comprehensive and faster adoption of the change across the organization.

One of the critical measures of success in implementing change is the degree to which the desired outcome of the initiative is achieved. Increases in staff productivity; reductions in the cycle times to treat patients; and increases in provider satisfaction are examples of planned change initiative outcomes. Achieving these outcomes require a change in the way in which business is conducted and the behavior of staff within the organization. The ability to affect this type of change requires the active engagement of all constituencies impacted by the change initiative, from the executive championing the change to the staff members who will change the way in which they interact with their key customer groups. Effective communication represents a significant enabler to a change initiative.

Our client experience has shown that organizations whose change initiatives embrace a communications effort are more than two times likely to achieve the initiative’s planned outcomes than those who didn’t approach their initiative with a comprehensive communications approach. Clients indicate that the process of communicating with key constituencies is the most important aspect of their efforts, as opposed to the specific means and content shared. Our experience is that simple, straightforward, well-written content produces the best results with constituencies. Elaborate, high-tech presentation methods tend to overshadow the basic content that the individuals need to embrace and adopt the change.

A second critical lesson learned has been the importance of using a variety of communication mechanisms, e.g., e-mails, physical signs or posters, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and face-to-face meetings. Constituencies respond differently to a variety of communication mechanisms, and even within a single constituency, our experience has shown it is more effective to vary the means in which content was shared. During the preparation of a tactical communication plan, ensure it represents a ‘mix it up’ in terms of the communication mechanism. During the plan’s development, solicit input from key constituencies or stakeholders regarding their preferred method of communication.

As a follow-up to this initial discussion with key stakeholders, periodically check-in with them to ensure that the content provided to them was understood in the manner desired. Communication requires more than ‘speaking and being heard’; it is about the listener understanding and comprehending the content provided to them. If it is determined that the communication efforts aren’t working, then adjust them to achieve the desired results.

The Art of Measurement and Business Architecture

Building a Business Architecture model without measuring any of its key elements is a pure waste of time.

This article examines the need for strategic and tactical measurements, how to have effective measurements (KPIs) in place, presents various measurement diagram examples, and finally, names two sources of KPIs lists for various industries.

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The Need for Measurement

Business Architecture will only contribute in driving Information Technology (“IT”) and Business Alignment if key business and IT stakeholders promote a “metrics-driven behavior (devising KPIs and incorporating them into the performance appraisal process).” Failure of Business Architecture initiatives and project is often the fact that C-level management hasn’t taken the time to set the Key Performance Indicators (“KPIs”) properly, as mentioned in Jason Bloomberg’s article .

KPIs can be defined at all levels of a business architecture model, including objectives/strategies, capabilities, value streams, organizations, initiatives, stakeholders, products/services, information, physical and IT assets, requirements and processes and especially all the actions and relationships that link the various parts of a business architecture together.

Some business strategies may truly be ill-advised and extremely risky. Showing the difference between strategies using chosen KPIs is what differentiates the best enterprise/business architects from others. Good business architecture will allow identifying the gaps between the current architecture and future state options by comparing architectures against KPIs and quantify the risks, using impact analyses and decision trees among others, as indicated in an article written by Tim O’Neill.

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Measuring Effectively

The set of possible measurements for Business Architecture is very large since Business Architecture is the link between strategy and execution. Business Architecture measurements can be grouped into strategic, tactical and governance values.

Strategic Values

Business Architecture is the missing link between strategy and execution. KPIs for Strategic Values should stay focus on measuring some cohesive business goals, including business strategy execution progress measurements, business culture index(es), productivity, business communication effectiveness, business growth opportunities, and cost structure optimization.

Tactical Values

At a tactical level, the purpose of practicing Business Architecture is to improve the efficiency of your organization’s operations. Measurements of efficiency, costs, time will vary based on the nature of your organization’s business. 

Governance Values

Governance is the other key area where Business Architecture can deliver value, by determining costs variances, examining detailed impact analyses and establishing balanced scorecards associated with risks.

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Defining measurements/KPIs can be challenging. Good KPIs must have a target value and a way to be accurately measured and reported. Ideally, good KPIs should include the following characteristics, as mentioned by John Parker :

Aligned with the specific organization’s vision, strategy, and objectives.

Optimized—The KPIs should be focused on providing organization-wide strategic value rather than on non-critical local business outcomes. Selection of the wrong KPI can result in counterproductive behavior and sub-optimized results.

Measurable—Can be quantified.

Realistic—Must be cost effective, coherent with the organization’s culture and constraints and achievable within the given timeframe.

Attainable—Requires targets to be set that are observable, achievable, reasonable, and credible under expected conditions as well as independently validated.

Clear—Clear and focused on avoiding misinterpretation or ambiguity.

Understood—business and IT stakeholders and relevant organizational units should know how their behaviors and activities contribute to achieving the KPI.

Predictive—The KPI may be compared to historical data over a reasonably long time so that trends can be identified.

Agreed—All stakeholders should agree and share responsibility for achieving the KPI target.

Reported—Regular reports are made available to all stakeholders and contributors, so they know the current state of the business architecture model element and take corrective action if required.

There are numerous ways to design measurement/KPIs diagrams. In this article, you will find 5 diagrams, including the 2-dimensions pie and donut charts, the 2 or 3 dimensions bar chart, the 3 dimensions bubble chart and finally the 4-dimension radar chart.

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Sources of KPIs

There are numerous sources of KPIs lists. It’s easy to get lost. In the Business Enterprise Architecture world, I will limit myself to two. First, there are the KPIs lists for each of the four IT Values Streams defined by the OPEN Group; especially the KPI list regarding the Strategy to Portfolio IT Value Stream . Second, there is the APQC’s Process Classification Framework that contains hundreds of processes , including detailed definitions and thousands of key measures for numerous industries. In particular, the APQC’s Process Classification Framework includes a section about developing and managing Business Capabilities

Definitions and Key Measures that can be very useful for Business Architecture . As for the latest version of BIZBOK, surprisingly it often mentions the necessity of measurements/KPIs but does not elaborate further than that.

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This article has examined the need for strategic and tactical measurements, how to have effective measurements (KPIs) in place, presented various measurement diagram examples, and finally named two sources of KPIs lists for various industries.

Business Analysts – Be Aware that Change Requires Grief

Business Analysts, as change agents, are the heartbeat of change. Everything we are part of is a change. We implement new data, new process, new system, new teams, new objectives, and a new strategy.

We retire old data, old processes, and old systems, disband teams, complete objectives, and collaborate on new strategy. This change demands space to allow people involved a grief process. 

There are many models for successful change. Consider Kotter’s eight-step process for leading change:

  1. Create a sense of Urgency
  2. Build a Guiding Coalition
  3. Form Strategic Vision and Initiatives
  4. Enlist Volunteer Army
  5. Enable Action by Removing Barriers
  6. Generate Short-Term Wins
  7. Sustain Acceleration
  8. Institute Change

The first step sets a foundation. People need to understand there is something wrong and change is needed. They must see there is an urgency to change and seize an opportunity. The second step is to get a team of diverse experience together to collaborate and lead change. This team is passionate, credible and persuasive. The third step is to create a vision. A leader needs to have the vision to steer the team through the change. People need to see where the change will lead them. The fourth step is to entice people to join you on the change journey. Gain an army of volunteers to get involved. The fifth step is to enable that army to change the processes and systems that are impeding moving to the future vision. The sixth step is to create short term wins with that army and the change they are making. Measure and track success for those wins. Sharing the facts and showing the value of the accomplishments. The seventh step is to continue with more changes to accelerate the successes. Continue to expand the army with more people who will implement the change vision. The final eighth step is that the change becomes the new norm. It is part of the institution. The cycle begins again. These steps create buy-in for the change which is critical.

As buy in is happening so is grief. Accepting something new requires accepting something lost. Anything different in our life causes us to feel the loss. Change begets grief. Ignoring this human element to change is a risk many companies often ignore. This is a costly mistake. As champions of change are running around excited and building teams, there are people grieving the loss of their old life. Any change requires grief management.

Grief is acknowledged as five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Each of us handles grief differently; it is a very personal experience. Like our business analysis work, grief ‘just depends.’ It is not a scheduled task: Denial will be 10 days followed by 7 days of anger, 3 days of bargaining, and three weeks of depression and then you will accept, and your grief will be over. There that’s done now let’s get back to our vision for change! It does not work like this. Each change event will cause us to have a different grief process. We may revisit stages of the grief cycle before or after we get to acceptance.

Acknowledging that grief exists and should be considered is essential to organization change success.

Do you remember reaching the end of your primary education? At graduation, I looked around and thought about all of the humanity I had been close to in one way or another for 12 years. After that moment I would never again share the same space in the same way I had with these people. It was surreal. This has been repeated for me with every project team I am a part of, with every job I have had, and with any shared experience with other human beings. The loss of this creates grief. There is sadness when the journey is over. I look forward to the change for the new opportunity ahead; however, I need to process the grief. I grieve when a book series I have invested in is over. Those characters and their story is no longer part of my life. I miss that. I miss the wonder of their progression and long for when the characters were new, and I just learned their stories.

In our careers, this loss is occurring each time we discover a problem, an urgency to change. Suddenly people will be working in a different way, perhaps with different people or tools. Some people are excited and eager for the change and move through grief lightening quick ready to move forward. Others remain transfixed in their current state and fight the change dragging their heels as you move them forward. Be sensitive to the grief they are experiencing. Acknowledge it. Let them feel the anger at the change and be depressed as they work towards acceptance. Don’t discount their feelings and insist ‘Just get over it’ or ‘Time to move on already.’ Be kind and offer support to teams experiencing change. People are impacted by the smallest of changes, the seasonal change, daylight savings time, the end of a holiday celebration, the New Year, a team assignment change or physically moving desks. They are also impacted by the largest of changes; reorganization at work, promotion, leadership change, marriage, new business, divorce, and especially the loss of a loved one. I can remember crying my eyes out when the TV show MASH ended or when Johnny Carson retired. How strange it seemed to be so sad about a TV show ending.

However, that show was around for as long as I could remember. I missed it! I had grown to love those characters and their story. The same is true for our work lives.

Business Analysts are in the people business. We should be considerate of the human element of the technology we are impacting. Don’t skip acknowledging grief in the change process. Plan for grief support in your projects and time to allow for the grief process to work. The plan will depend on the complexity and severity of the change. Professionals may need to be engaged to help people work through the change. Leaders and employees may need some additional training to help through the process. It is possible to be stuck in grief, and we need to move people forward. This requires empathy, compassion and lots of listening! Having a vision will be instrumental in moving people out of grief, getting them to see the bright future ahead is a motivator to move forward. Like everything else, it’s art!

I am a fairly resilient person and have dealt with many significant changes and losses in my life so far. Coping has become part of who I am. I approach change with an ‘OK, what’s next, bring it on!’ attitude. I support others as they work through changes and remind others, this is hard for people. We can never forget the human element of change. These skills will help us to become better analysts!

Where There are People, There is Conflict

Conflict is a mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, and external or internal demands.

Where there are people, there is conflict. Conflicts are seen as negative. However, this is inaccurate as conflicts are necessary for healthy relationships.

Conflict should not be perceived as a problem. It is a chance for growth and can be useful in opening yourself up to groups or other individuals. When conflict begins to suppress or disrupt productivity and gives way to more conflicts, conflict management is needed to address the dispute. There are many types of conflict, but here are three typical examples:

1. Intragroup Conflict

Intragroup conflict occurs among individuals within a team. The incompatibilities and misunderstandings between team members can lead to intragroup conflict. It starts from interpersonal disagreements like team members have different personalities which may lead to tension or differences in views and ideas.

Within a team, conflict can be helpful in coming up with decisions, which will eventually allow them to achieve their objectives as a team. However, if the degree of conflict disrupts harmony among the members, then some serious guidance from a different party will be needed for it to be settled.

2. Interpersonal Conflict

Interpersonal conflict means a conflict between two individuals. Conflict occurs because of differences between individuals. We all have varied personalities which can lead to incompatible choices and opinions. So, it is a natural occurrence which can eventually help in personal growth or develop our relationships with others.

Interpersonal conflict among individuals at work has been shown to be one of the most frequently noted stressors for employees. This type of conflict is associated with the broader concept of workplace harassment. It relates to other stressors that might co-occur, such as role conflict, role ambiguity, and workload. It also relates to strains such as anxiety, depression, physical symptoms, and low levels of job satisfaction. Disputes between peers as well as supervisor and subordinate conflicts fall into this category.

3. Intergroup Conflict

Intergroup conflict occurs when a misunderstanding arises among different teams or groups within an organization.

Horizontal strain intergroup conflict typically can occur between the marketing & sales departments who are looking to increase the organizational sales. Varied sets of goals, objectives, and interests of these groups can cause conflict. Competition between the groups also amplifies intergroup conflict as each organizational team is trying to outperform each other in reaching their set of goals and objectives. These factors may include a rivalry in resources or the boundaries of responsibilities.

Another type is Vertical strain conflict which involves competition between hierarchical levels such as a union versus company management, or a struggle between a group of employees and management.

Conflict Resolution Management Techniques

There are five strategies for managing stressful situations. None of them is a “one-size-fits-all” answer. Choosing the best conflict management technique depends on a variety of factors, including an appraisal of the intensity of the conflict and environmental factors. Here are the five types of conflict resolution management:

  • Collaborating − win/win
  • Compromising − win some/lose some
  • Accommodating − lose/win
  • Competing − win/lose
  • Avoiding − no winners/no losers

Collaborating Technique

This technique follows the rule “I win, you win.” Collaborating means working together by integrating ideas set out by multiple people. The objective here is to find a creative solution acceptable to everyone. It calls for a significant time commitment. Collaborating can lead to “I will win all costs” or the Competing technique below. Each group must be committed to the win/win outcome and have trust with each other for collaborating to be successful. The collaborating approach gives longer lasting and more meaningful agreements. Participants that collaborate are significantly more likely not to feel negative about the outcome.

Compromising Technique

This method follows the rule “You bend, I bend.” Compromising means adjusting with each other’s opinions and ideas, and thinking of a solution where both points of view are part of the solution outcome. Similarly, both the parties need to give up on some of their ideas and should agree with the other. Values and long-term objectives can be derailed using this technique. This process may not work if initial demands are high and if there is no commitment to honor the compromised solutions or outcomes. Comprise is best in tough situations where collaboration will not work. The results are less likely to be sustainable and mutually valued as both sides feel slightly negative about the experience.

Accommodating Technique

This method follows the rule “I lose, you win.” Accommodating means giving up on ideas and thoughts so that the other party wins and the conflict ends. However, using this technique, one’s own ideas do not get attention, ensures lost credibility, and influence is lost. The approach of “I will just do what you say” deflates the morale of one side of the conflict. Accommodating gives a lack of caring, concern, and commitment to the solution outcome by one side of the conflict. It is having one side of the conflict jumping ship and saying “It is your problem now.” Leaving both sides of the conflict feeling negative about the experience and untrusting of each other regarding the solution outcome.

Competing Technique

This method follows the rule “I win, you lose.” Competition means when there is a dispute a person or a group is not willing to collaborate or adjust, but it simply wants the opposite party to lose. This technique can further escalate conflict or losers may retaliate. This “It is my way or the highway” leads to stronger emotions and greater conflict. Many conflicts start as competing but then move into other collaboration types.

Avoiding Technique

This method follows the rule “No winners, no losers.” Avoiding means the ideas suggested by both the parties are rejected. Both parties are then lead undermine each other, ignoring each other’s ideas and creates a greater wedge between the two parties to reach a conclusion in the future.

Strategy Spotlight: 9 ‘E’ Words for the Business Analysis and Professional Development from a CEO

Today’s article is brought to you by the letter E.

When traveling on business or I make it a point to meet with business leaders and get their thoughts on a topic. I was in eastern Canada and had the opportunity to have dinner with the CEO of Junior Achievement in Newfoundland and Labrador. This particular CEO is very supportive of Business Analysis, strategic planning and professional development. She recognized the importance of investing in the success of people and the economic environment.

During our conversation I mentioned that I was thinking about writing an article on the “E” words of Business Analysis and professional development. So I asked, “If you could only use ‘E’ words to determine the needs of your organization and the expected outcomes, what words would you use?”

Here this CEO’s response to my question:

  1. Exploration: You need to investigate and analyze your findings to determine what the needs of the organization, especially when you are considering any of solution kind of change. There are areas where Business Analysis should be used to determine decision impacts, especially where people and culture are important.
  2. Expedient: The ability to plan and propose a desired objective and outcome is an important part of the process. It means that your need to ensure that it is appropriate under the present and potential circumstances. Knowing what you want to achieve, the outcomes needed to be successful is what it is all about, a means to an end, if you wish.
  3. Engagement: We all hear this word a lot. In creating change and transition or providing education (another E word) it is a matter of getting people involved. The most successful programs begin before they start. In Business Analysis that means knowing your pre-program and have people participate. Connect people early and you have a chance at greater success. This is part of the whole engagement process that often gets missed.
  4. Educate: This is a word we must include here. It is at the heart of many things we all do. That holds true whether it is to educate ourselves or others. It is a matter of providing training for professionals and leaders to build business brainpower so everyone succeeds. A good Business Analyst learns, understands and uses the principles of adult learning in their work. They do so to positively impact change and achieve outcomes.
  5. Enthusiasm: Lively interest or passion in a topic is contagious. If you have ever been around someone who is enthusiastic in their work you feel it. It rubs off on you. So make yourself contagious in a good way. People will notice and become more engaged.
  6. Experience: People like to feel something when they are engaging with you whether it is through one on one contact, in a meeting, or a group workshop. For example, in requirement gathering workshops don’t be afraid to get people into experiential requirements generation, especially diverse groups. There are many tactics that will allow you to do this.
  7. Experiment: This covers a lot of territory from formal testing to creative thinking. As a Business Analyst, it is important that you try new things and new methods to get people engaged from the beginning to the end. This even applies to testing for quality or for reviewing implementation success. It should be all right to experiment a bit with solutions within certain parameters and guidelines. In change events where training is involved getting people to creatively test a new procedure or system makes a big difference. So find ways to experiment for better solutions.
  8. Entertainment: This one comes from the entertaining model of learning. This is one of those items considered debatable. When you are working with people in a workshop or training session do you provide entertainment. It is important for people to have fun when working through their plans, generating requirements, learning something new or making a change. I have occasionally met someone who said that there’s too much fun during a session and never understood that comment. Often engagement, enthusiasm and entertainment go together. It is fine art of being practical while providing an experience to generate solutions and results.
  9. Excellence: Where would we be without this word in the mix? It is the fact of creating something of quality that can be articulated or measured. It is like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure brought to you in a performance package, service excellence. Every business leader or team wants excellence as part of the mix. It is the outcome of creating a fact or state where excelling in superiority is required. In Business Analysis it’s a must to strive for excellence. It is just part of providing solutions to business problems or finding opportunities. But it is also part of developing the people around you when you step into facilitation, training and development and transition programming.

A Final Thought:

This article came from the input of a CEO who is out in the world working with business leaders and professionals to build a successful economy. When asked the CEO provided you incredible expectation insight. In this case, we had a discussion of words and how they apply to business, Business Analysis, and training & development. Any good professional and leadership team knows that investing in people pays dividends when it comes to improving the organization. The next time you are involved in an initiative pull out an E word and use it. You never know.

Do Your Best, Invest in the Success of Others, and Make Your Journey Count.