Change is hard! Haven't we all heard that before? Stating that change is hard doesn't make it any easier for an individual or organization to make a change. Although it is useful to recognize that moving from the current state to the desired future state is hard, what change managers need is a targeted strategy to help people transition from the current state, through the future state, and to business as usual. The best strategy to include in any change is to align an Organizational Change Management (OCM) Strategy with the Project Plan, and focus on the fruit of OCM, the P.E.A.R. (Productivity, Engagement, Adoption Rate, Reinforcement and Rewards).

Productivity:

Using OCM best practices ensures the project and readiness activities focus on encouraging the change in behavior while minimizing any dip in productivity. Using productivity as a guide, you can identify the metrics and tools needed to measure the progress and success of your change.

Engagement:

Using tried and true OCM engagement techniques (manager/people leader calls, champion/power user networks, focus groups, surveys), you will get buy-in for the new processes up front, as well as allow for people to ask questions about the new tools/processes BEFORE it is in production (minimizing production decreases).

Adoption Rate:

Adoption rate is the speed in which the audience begins to change their behavior in relation to the project goals. Setting goals and grounding adoption expectations will help you to identify the readiness activities to utilize, what to measure to understand the change in behavior, as well as when to measure throughout the change journey.

Reinforcement and Rewards:

Reinforcement is the encouragement to continue making the change, or continue in progress towards the change. Reinforcement helps to build confidence in the new item, and done right, will result in increasing productivity, engagement, and adoption rates.

Rewards serve as additional incentives for people to make the change. If people are happy with the old way, why should they change their ways? What is in it for them? Help to share the expected benefits of the new system or process, and give positive rewards for those who have already made the changes. Rewards do not have to be elaborate, and can be as simple as recognition in a company email or newsletter, up front parking for a day, wearing jeans to work, company swag, or gift cards.

PEAR in Practice

Let's say your project is implementing a claims management system with new features to support existing business processes. The project charter states that within the first three months of use, the organization will process 100 more claims than normal. This provides you the following related metric information:

  • The charter is assuming "old" productivity rate doesn't change based on the new system
  • The charter expects to process 100 claims more than normal
  • The numbers in the charter are based on 100% ADOPTION in three months
  • The charter expects the users to adapt to the new system very quickly, providing a steep adoption rate

An experienced Project Manager or Change Manager will know that rolling out the system with minimal to no change management tools, the goal of 100 ADDITONAL CLAIMS per month will not be reached. Most likely, less than 50% of your audience will adopt the change. Assuming 40% adoption rate, the goal of processing 100 additional claims per month will not be met. It is more likely that only 40 additional claims will go through (40% of the 100), still assuming that there is no change to the "old" productivity baseline rate.

However, if the change strategy focuses on P.E.A.R up front, you will mitigate that decrease in productivity, increase engagement opportunities for early buy-in, and be much closer to the project goal of 100 additional claims a month in a reduced time frame (hence, a faster adoption rate). A strong change strategy will include techniques to continue increasing these metrics through reinforcement and rewards, until the change no longer feels like a change, but rather business as usual.

As a Change Manager, work with the project sponsors and project management to set realistic productivity goals, identify barriers to these goals, and work in ways to overcome them in the overall change strategy. Using PEAR in our example, a change manager might consider the following questions:

  • How can we overcome the barriers to these goals?
  • Is 100% adoption in three months realistic for this change?
  • How will this be measured?
  • What are items within the culture of the organization that can prevent this adoption rate?
  • How will we compare the productivity rate of the new process to the old process?
  • What are ways that we can encourage engagement to overcome these barriers or increase adoption rate?
  • What rewards and reinforcement mechanisms will work in the organization's culture?