2019 Association of Change Management Professionals Conference: Key Takeaways for Nonprofits

ACMP 2019

We’ve seen firsthand through our own personal experiences as well as through our clients the difference change management techniques can make in a project. Building up individuals working in the nonprofit sector with the key body of skill sets and tools in change management not only helps their technology projects be more successful, but also empowers them to move through any organizational change with greater success.

Our passion to continue learning what is new and fresh in the field led us to sending our certified change management professionals to sunny Orlando for the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) Conference. Arriving in Orlando, we were eager to learn the latest, talk and exchange ideas with others, and to network and reach out with those working in the nonprofit sector. We hosted a special dine-around for nonprofit professionals to connect with each other and talk about their triumphs and struggles with change management.

Going into the various sessions, our goal was to find key takeaways that we could bring back not only to our clients, but also to use as a company. Implementing techniques internally helps us continuously improve, and we make for great Guinea pigs since managing change effectively is a fundamental aspect of our culture.

What we learned in Orlando

Every session was an enriching experience, but a couple struck us as especially useful for nonprofit organizations.

Keynote speaker Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations

Susan’s approach to conversations centers around four main objectives:

  • It’s vital to interrogate your own reality and ask yourself: Is there something I am pretending not to know?
  • The goal should be to provoke learning for everyone in the room.
  • Don’t be afraid to tackle tough challenges.
  • Aspire to enrich relationships.

She also encourages individuals to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. And when that truth needs to be told, be proactive and be the first to say it. Change won’t happen if everyone waits for someone else to take the first step (especially the difficult steps!). For nonprofits going through a technology change, many departments are often working together and staff members may not be as familiar with the hardships of other jobs in the organizations. When hashing out a plan for change, nonprofit leaders can take initiative and hold conversations with key stakeholders keeping Susan’s four points in mind. Doing this with good intentions often yields positive outcomes, and if the hard conversations don’t go well, then leaders know there are possibly larger underlying problems and can seek out additional change management guidance to navigate those challenges.

Dr. Kamila Sip from the Neuroleadership Institute

Change management topics often focus on the individual, but Dr. Kamila Sip explained how addressing the neuroscience behind teams can help create cohesion during a project despite differing backgrounds, expectations, and roles.

Assembling a diverse group during a project can easily create tension. Team members might ask themselves:

  • Do I feel respected and valued?
  • Am I in the loop?
  • Am I given choices and control?
  • Do I belong?
  • Do I get the credit for the contributions I am making?

Leaders in these situations need to create a group identity to balance these tensions. For nonprofits, taking time throughout the project to actively explain roles and expectations is key. The goal should not be harmony, but rather to embrace the discomfort of a diverse group, make sure everyone is truly heard, and use team members’ varying perspectives to enhance the project.

Key Takeaways for Nonprofits:

The field of change management is evolving rapidly, and we’re thrilled that a growing number of nonprofits attended ACMP this year.

When thinking about change in nonprofit technology projects, we will be asking these questions:

  • How you can harness the power of your organization’s story within your change project?
  • Are we effectively coaching the team as well as the individuals?
  • How you can elevate your influence by speaking the language of change?
  • What change management tools can better facilitate conflict in your organization?
  • How can change management help organizations evolve in this digital era?
  • Is there neuroscience behind how we learn, and how can we keep that in mind when going through organizational change?
  • How do change management and project management work together for project success?
  • How can we address concern of project stakeholders throughout a project, not just at the start?

Our change management experts are refreshed and energized by these questions, conversations, and session takeaways. Looking to have guidance during your next organizational change? Please reach out to us. ACMP developed a new certification, The CCMP™, based on ACMP’s industry-leading Standard for Change Management© (“the Standard”). This standard has defined best practices in change management and our team has several experts that were part of the first 500 people to receive this certification. We’d love to share what we’re continuing to learn.

About the Authors

Smita Vadakekalam
In 1998 Smita starting work on the front-line of the nonprofit sector helping organizations with fundraising, technology strategy, and operations streamlining. Since then she has worked with hundreds of nonprofits implementing strong business practices, technology and change management strategies to... Read More
Cynthia Coleman
Cynthia joined Heller Consulting in 2009 and before that had been working with nonprofits and specializing in fundraising operations for more than seven years. Her drive to learn and expand her role from data entry to managing the donor database... Read More
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