Digital Transformation

Leveraging Change Champions for Successful Adoption

connected_network_shutterstock_wordpress-600x422Have you ever felt like you’re one person against the world? Or possibly you’ve been overwhelmed trying to turn the battleship single-handedly? If so, take comfort! You’re not alone.

Change managers, those responsible for garnering user adoption and engagement for a new system, tool, platform or process, are challenged with motivating hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands to new ways of working. Often, the change team itself can be very small with few personal relationships with the target population.

I’ve found that a really helpful tool to mitigate these challenges are Change Champion Networks. Meeting with the project’s Change Management Lead at a regular cadence throughout the project, these “networks” are comprised of key members of the user community (usually representative of a line of business or geography) who:

  1. act as a ‘champion” or project advocate to their spheres of influence,
  2. help the project’s change team convey key messages to their respective audiences, adding another communication channel to the Change team’s arsenal, and
  3. provide a communication channel BACK to the project team, which can be invaluable when it comes to knowing how messages are landing, what questions the users are having, and as a means to determine overall user readiness.

In addition to the formal functions above, there are side benefits from having a Change Champion Network. The biggest benefit is simply that with a two-way communication channel established, users have a way to feel heard, a key milestone on the road to adoption. On a related note, there have been times where users have brought up issues that the project team had not considered, despite thorough planning. It was much better to have found (and resolved) these items BEFORE go-live than after.

Secondly, messages often land better if they come from a known and trusted source. As good as our change managers may be, they often don’t have the personal relationships or credibility with individual users, which negatively influences the impact their messages may have. A trusted resource can more easily get the attention of the target users, helping to ensure that the message is not only communicated but received.

Finally, Change Champions, while not part of the formal project team but having increased exposure to the project, often become de facto subject matter experts in the new technology or process. This can pay huge dividends during implementation, as these resources can usually answer questions from the users and protect the help desk from a flood of calls that might otherwise come.

The next time you have a significant project that will change the way your users work, consider leveraging a Change Champion Network. You’ll be glad you did.

About the Author

David is the General Manager for Perficient's Organizational Change Management practice, part of the Strategic Advisors Team. He has over twenty years of consulting experience and resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Be sure to also check out David’s personal blog. It focuses on collaboratively building the breadth and depth of our collective change management knowledge based on insights and experiences shared to help one another grow.

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