On July 25, DonorSearch hosted Heller Consulting’s Vice President of Professional Services Smita Vadakekalam to share her experience in guiding nonprofit organizations through successful technology projects. As a Prosci Certified Change Practitioner, she explained the purpose of change management, and shared best practices, resources and tools to help nonprofits incorporate effective change management strategies into their own projects. Below is the transcript, and you can download the slides and watch the full webinar here.
Smita: I’ve learned some incredible lessons from working on these projects as I’m sure most of you on the phone could attest to and I wanted to share with you some of those lessons. One of the first lessons I learned was that implementation projects are really, really hard. They’re very challenging. You don’t necessarily have that instant gratification and I’m sure a lot of you on the phone can attest to that. The second thing I learned in examining why they’re so challenging was understanding that these projects involve a massive amount of change and especially on how people do their jobs because when we are helping organizations move from an old Legacy fundraising system to a new fundraising system, they’re changing the way they work and also how they approach work so that is no small thing. Then the third lesson I learned from all of this work is that if you ignore the people side of all this and you focus too much on the tools and technology, you will inevitably fail. Your project will fail. I’m sure these are lessons you all have learned but in examining this and especially this is the work we do, we try to focus on what can we do to ensure greater success on these projects since it involves a lot of change. That is when that led us down the road to studying and thinking about the field of change management.
That is what we are going to talk about today. We’re going to use the example of fundraising system implementations and I’m going to talk about a methodology framework on how to manage a change within those fundraising implementation projects but I would say that what I go over today, that framework is something that you can use for any change initiative, it doesn’t just have to be a technology project. What we’re going to talk about today is a result of the work we’ve done with all these wonderful nonprofits, wonderful tips and tricks that I’ve learned from our clients. I’m excited to share that with all of you today.
Very quickly just want to mention… For those of you who don’t know who Heller Consulting is, we’ve been around for 20 years, worked with over a thousand clients and 2000 projects, we’re based all over the country. I’m actually calling form New York. We have about 40 people and all of us who work at Heller have worked exclusively in the nonprofit sector and we serve solely nonprofits.
Before we dive into it I just want to cover, I just want to go over what we’ll be covering today, our agenda. We’ll first start out with the purpose of change management just to make sure we’re all on the same page and understand the definition. What are we talking about when we say “change management?” Then the heart of this webinar will be focused on the framework and best practices and strategies for managing change in a project. Lastly, I’ll leave you with some resources and tools because there are many out there on what you can do to help manage change on your next technology project.
Let’s start out with a simple definition. I’m just going to read off the slide but we have here, “change management is a use of targeted strategy and tools to enable organizations to successfully transition through technology and operations planning and implementation.” I think the most important words here in this definition is that it is a targeted strategy and there are tools so when your organization is going through a transition, it is using a discipline, a methodology to help the people at your organization move through that transition. This is another great analogy that I love that simply defines change management. For a lot of folks on the phone and in the sector understand what project management is. This is a great way to describe the difference between project management and change management.
Here we have a boat, project management is building the boat while change management is getting the people on the boat and rowing in unison to a destination. So another wonderful way to describe this is that project management is your building of your timeline, your task managing, your scope and budget, that framework, and change management is getting folks in a fundraising implementation to actually use a system that you’re implementing. If you just think about it in that way, it is a great way to describe what change management is.
I just like to share very quickly a result form a survey that we have up on our website. We received a lot of results and respondents from this but one question that we have on our survey is posted right here. It says, “Fatigue among employees from past change is relatively none existent at my organization.” As you can see from the results, it is not that surprising, that over 60%, about 65%, have change fatigue at third organization before they start a project. I wanted to point that out because that is a reality for most folks who start a project, that there’s already been many past projects in the past and you’re dealing with resistance and change fatigue from previous projects. I mention that only because it is important to recognize that but it is only more important that you have a strong discipline and you manage the change in your next project. Take that seriously because what will result in if you manage change successfully you’ll have… you’ll lessen the change fatigue and folks will have a better experience and probably be more ready for the next change at your organization.
What I’m going to do right now is I’m going to launch a poll because I’d like to learn a little bit more about the folks on the phone. So if you could take a few minutes and answer the question that you see on screen here. Think about a change that is going on in your organization. In what phase is the change you are currently facing? Is it A, thinking that things need to change to the very beginning? Is it B, “Oh, I’m sorry I just realized I may be…” may not have launched it on the screen… okay… so you see here the poll and the questions. Are you in the messy middle, or are you C, in the postmap of the change, you’re alive and living in a whole new world? I’ll just wait a few minutes to have you all vote. Just going to give it a few more seconds to just get more folks voting here. Okay, I’m going to close the poll here and as you can see from the poll results it looks like majority of folks on the phone here are right in the messy middle. Just about 26% of you are in the beginning and about 9% are live and living in a whole new world. That is great.
The reason why I asked that question is because it is… I want to make a note that you can take these strategies regardless of what phase you are in your project. Of course ideally you’re implementing a change management strategy at the very beginning so that 26% of you can take advantage of that but I do think that even in the mess middle and even after the change, there are things you can do to implement change management strategies.
I’m actually going to actually administer another poll, another question for all of you. As you can see on screen, if you could take a moment to answer this. Thinking about the change, what size is this change? Is it a minor system with limited scope? Maybe it is just you’re just one department, is it a major system change? Maybe it is more than one department, many stakeholders in your organization. Or is it a multiple system overhaul? I would categorize this as maybe involving most folks at your organization. So if you could take a few minutes and answer that for me, that would be wonderful. Okay. Think we got a good amount of votes so I’m going to close the poll and share the results here. So as you can see it looks like most are actually a major system or multiple system overhaul. So we’ve got some big change initiatives and about 17% are minor system, limited scope.
A point here I’d like to make is that the things that I am going over today can be applied to any size change initiative. The advantage for those of you who are going through a minor system, limited scope project, maybe you don’t have a full team of folks, maybe it is just you that is leading the change but you can take these ideas and apply it to your project. Actually I think it is a wonderful way to practice this change framework when you actually go through a major system or multiple system overhaul. The things that we go through today can be applied to any size project, this is just how you’re going to scale, up or down, and how many resources and folks you have to work with. So thanks everyone for taking some time to complete the poll.
Before we get into tips and tricks I just do want to mention some of the benefits of change management. I might seem like common sense but it is also good to know why are we even investing in this. As I think I mentioned before at the very beginning, this does increase the likelihood of project success. That is the reason why I actually started getting interested in the topic of change management. As a system implementation consultant I wanted my clients to experience greater success on projects. Change management will provide tools for managing resistance. We’ll talk about this a little later in the presentation but it is a… almost every project will have resistance and it is really important that you proactively manage that resistance and we’ll talk about that a little later. Another benefit of change management is that it encourages trust and confidence in the plan. If you are engaging your folks, getting buy in and you‘re talking with your stake holders of course folks are part of that plan, it is going to encourage trust and confidence. The last point is not a small point and a reality of a lot of these system implementations and change projects is that it reduces turnover. Turnover is a great risk.
Now I do want to mention one small point in that sometimes I’ve worked on projects, many of them, where there are people who have left and made the choice to leave and actually that wasn’t the worst thing in the world because it was that change project sort of made that a person realizes that maybe it was… this wasn’t for them and that is okay sometimes but the point I want to make about turn over, reducing turnover, is that you don’t want to lose your best and brightest. I have been unfortunately on projects where because of lack of change management, good change management, it was really disruptive. We lost our really good folks and it did really impact the success of the project. So that is a really important element of change management.
This is the framework that we’re going to step through today. It’s the ADKAR model from Prosci. There are many frameworks of… on change management out there but I’m going to be using the ADKAR model because it is very simple and easy to remember. Prosci for those of you who don’t know is a great organization, the leading training and research organization for change management. It is where I got my certification from and they have wonderful research and studies that they’re doing but this is a framework that we’ll be using. I will be stepping through each letter noted here and giving you some examples of how that would apply on a fundraising system implementation.
As you see here, the A is awareness of the need for change, the D is the desire to participate and support the change, K is knowledge on how to change, A is the ability to implement required skills and behavior and R is reinforcement to sustain the change. We will talk through each of these things and what are the things we can do.
Before we do this I do have another poll that I’d like all of you to take a few seconds to answer. I’m very curious to see for those of you on the phone, does your organization invest in change management. If you could answer A, “Yes we have resources and a structure to help manage changes at our organization.” B, “Some, we thought about it, have invested a little,” or C, “No, we’ve never talked about investing in change management.” Okay, so I’m going to close the poll right now. Okay, so as you can see I’m going to share the results. We have about… okay, this is not a surprise to me but we have about 87% that has some has thought about it or has never done change management and about 13% says yes we have resources and a structure.
I do want to share with all of you we’re focused on the nonprofit sector that this is what I’ve seen. It is pretty new in terms of the nonprofit sector to invest in change management. In the work I’ve been doing I work a lot with practitioners who do change management and it is pretty typical in the for profit sector. I do think this is a great opportunity for all of us to learn more about this because… and do more thought leadership because I think it is absolutely needed. I do think it is going to result in greater success with our technology projects in the nonprofit sector, I think it is similar to where project management was ten years ago in the nonprofit sector, it was new but now it is almost, “Oh every organization invests in it.” No fear, this is the start of it so I’m glad you all can attend to learn more about this.
We are going to step though the first letter in the framework with was the A which is building awareness. Building awareness I have here on this slide advice “run it like a campaign.” In building awareness what you’re doing is you are describing the why behind the change. The advantage of a nonprofit is you are mission oriented. So connect the change to the mission in a very concrete way. It’s really important that this message is very clear as to why we’re going about this technology change and connect it to the mission of the organization. That means a lot. I would run it like a campaign, for those who are fundraisers on the phone. Use the strategy is you use on a fund raising campaign or a political campaign. In thinking about that, think about your logo, think about naming the campaign, creating messaging around this.
I’ve had a lot of great clients who have named their project. I think it might be a small thing but it does go a long way and that it creates, generates, excitement and a mission around it. I have some clients who named their fundraising implementation projects such as Project Flourish or New Horizons with a very positive name so everyone knew what this project was about. It wasn’t just the database project but there was something more behind it.
It is also really important to message and socialize this concept. The people on your team who are going to be the most influential in describing the why and socializing that concept are your sponsors If you think about any technology or change initiative, this is a role of the sponsor. The sponsor should be the one describing the why and connecting the… connecting the mission of the organization to the why is this technology project important. So make sure you get your sponsors engaged in that. Create a lot of excitement with pre kickoff meetings. My most successful clients have done really great kick off meetings. It is more of a celebration for all of those who are involved that gives you a sense of what is about to happen. Think of it like a campaign kickoff where you have all of your stake holders in the room describing the why behind the project and what it is going to take to complete the project, giving people a sense of what is going to be involved. Another thing is use… be creative with what you do. Use little tchotchkes and different signs to note that you are on the project. I have a client who used… it was very simple that made coffee mugs. The coffee mugs had the name of the project and everyone who was a part of this project at the kickoff meeting got that coffee mug. They announced that, “this coffee mug… this project is going to be really, really difficult and challenging, you are going to need a lot of caffeine in your coffee mug to get though it but at the same time we are going to have celebrations and we are going to acknowledge and celebrate those milestones. So you might replace that caffeine with something else a little bit more celebratory.” It was a really nice sign of commitment that you were on the project.
Another l little tip and strategy I’d like to share with you all is for those of you who have a marketing and communications department at your organization, utilize them for this. They may not be a key stakeholder in the project but the folks in marketing and communication have a great talent for creating communications and creating some of that messaging. So use them to help you create some of your communications for this project. I’ve had really some great clients be really creative and have used their communications departments to help them build videos and different communication to help them on their technology project. So utilize them if you have them.
The next part of the framework is the D in the ADKAR Model which is building desire. It’s important to… now, in order for people to feel motivated around this change, you need to build desire. You can do this be articulating the negative or positive aspects of the change. The example I have here is articulating the threat of not changing. In the case of your particular project, that might be very compelling. Or it may not be so I’m going to give you and example of when communicating the threat of not changing is very important.
For example, I had a client who was… their main donor constituent group was between the ages of 20 and 35. They found that most of their donors really were looking for online engagement. That was the way that they wanted to interact with the organization. So they really had… it was really vital and critical for them to move their technology to something that was mobile ready, accessible and to an online system. If they did not do this, they would become irrelevant and possibly lose their key donors. So that is a great example of communicating the threat of not changing. If it is applicable in your technology project, it can be a very effective message in building desire.
Another way to build desire is to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” I love this acronym, WIIFM. I think about it every time we’re doing any kind of small or big change. Think about all the different people impacted by the change at your organization and really other than… it is really important that you have the big picture, the why behind why you are doing this as an organization but you also have to appeal to peoples’ personal desires. What is in it for that major gift fundraiser? What is in it for that database manager? What is in it for the board member? Try to answer those questions.
For example, for that board member maybe what is in it for them is that they’ll be responsible for getting your organization to the next level for technology. For that database manager maybe by moving to this new piece of technology they’ll be able to build their skillsets and they’ll have… because the technology is newer, they’ll have a community of other people who use that same technology to learn from. For that major gift fundraiser, maybe by moving to this new fundraising system that major gift fundraiser will have information readily available that will enable them to contact their prospects, manage their prospect pipelines in more of a real time fashion. Just really think about your various stakeholders and what’s in it for them. In order to do that you may need to at the beginning of your technology project interviews to understanding what’s going to motivate your various stakeholders.
Another key point that I want to bring up. It’s not actually one of the letters in the ADKAR model but a very, very, very important concept in change management is resistance management. As I mentioned earlier in this presentation, there will be resistance on the project. It is important to not just avoid it or ignore it but to understand and understand what type of resistance is on your project. This is something you can do very early on by having the folks in your organization, usually your managers… the people who lead other people … to just do some due diligence and talking with folks to understand what kind of resistance exists and you will want to figure out strategies for managing that.
Now, there is lots of strategies for managing resistance that go from something more punitive to I’d like to err on the side of getting your …sometimes your biggest resistors to be your greatest cheerleaders. I’d like to share a story with you of an organization I worked with that did that. This organization was going through a fundraising implementation and there was someone on the gift processing team that was very negative in their meetings, very… was always… didn’t have the greatest attitude, was sort of the naysayer. Everyone just ignored it in the beginning but we decided to maybe look into it more. So their manager just really talked to them and asked them dug a little deep instead of dug a little deep to better understand why they were so resistant and why were they not supportive of the project. When they really dug a little deeper they realized that this person was really angry because they didn’t feel like they were listened to. It was as simple as that. When it came down to, they had some serious concerns about the acknowledgement feature and the batch feature of this new fundraising system. Actually those concerns were really legit and because that person was responsible for that piece of it.
So what that manager did was actually assign that person to be responsible for that piece of the project and had that person really own it and be the key tester and it was there job to bring up the concerns. They had a strategy for figuring out, okay, for that piece instead of focusing on the entire project and being the naysayer for the entire project, that person focused on their subject matter expertise. In the end, it resulted in a better project and also that person was one of the greatest cheerleaders of the project. so that is a great example of using resistance on your project.
I’m going to take a few minutes to do another poll. Now, this one’s going to take a few minutes to just… to look at yourself. This is a personal assessment and I would like you all to… before you answer the question, let me must explain what this means. This is an exercise that I did a long time ago and still use to this day. Think about a technology change project you’re involved in. Don’t think about… you know we have many changes in our life but really think about one specific change. Think about where you lie on the spectrum of this change. Do you see yourself as a, “I love change.” You’re a change adventurer, bring it on. Or B, risk neutral. “I’m adaptable, happy to go with the flow.” Or C. Steady and consistent. “I like to improve on what we have.” There’s no right or wrong to this question. It’s really important and be very honest and really try to think of it in the context of the particular technology project you’re on. I’m going to give you all a few seconds to vote. Okay. We’ve got a lot of folks voting. So I am going to close the poll and share the results.
Okay. This is not surprising to me, it is pretty evenly distributed. We actually do this exercise quite a bit when we do this presentation and it tends to be evenly distributed. It really depends on… I don’t know exactly who exactly is on the phone but sometimes when we’re doing this with technology folks, CIOs and database managers. You see change adventurers and then you see the steady consistent. The point of this is to know there’s no right and wrong and the importance of doing a personal assessment is very important in that if you are doing change work at your organization, it is important to look within, to look at yourself and to understand where do you lie on the spectrum and how do you impact the change. It’s okay. If you’re a steady consistent and you’re not that crazy about change at an organization, it’s good to be aware that is where you lie and understand sort of the strengths and weaknesses that come from it.
There’s three ways to look at this. You can look at it from your team profile. I’m sorry, let me start from the top. You can look at it from your organization profile, then you can look at it up from your team profile, the folks who are just on your change project, and then you can look at it just at yourself personally. Starting out with your organization, think about your organization as a whole and think about is everyone… where does everyone lie at your organization? Is everyone a change adventurer? They love change? Is there not that much representation for maybe some of the other categories? That’s good to know just because it might tell you a little something about your organization, that they tend to maybe embark on a little too much change a little too quickly and it is good to have some balance. Or if your organization it tends to be a bit steady consistent, not excited about change. Also keep that in mind and how that impacts the change that you’re going through. I think the most helpful thing about this exercise is looking at your team profile and the folks you’re working on in your fundraising implementation. Is there a mix? Do you have folks on one end, more on the end of the spectrum than others? I think the most important thing is trying to figure out how you’re going to leverage each other’s talents.
For example, if you are… you have some folks on your team that are change adventurers who love to bring on the change, they love the change, and you’re maybe a little bit more risk neutral, make sure they’re not jumping from idea to idea and they’re just not changing for the sake of changing. For you folks who love change, use your risk neutral folks, the ones who are sort of in the middle to vet your ideas. Once you commit to the change, maybe use your steady and consistent, the ones that are a little bit not so excited about the change, to stick with the change. They’re going to be the folks who can maybe vet your ideas, do the testing for the new system. Those are different ways you can utilize your team members. For the risk neutral folks and the steady consistent, you can use your… the change adventurers, the folks who love change to bring you ideas and a fresh approach when you’re stuck. So even though you may get frustrated that they may be the ones who are always changing their mind they can be great for thinking outside the box. Use them for that.
I find that in technology fundraising projects that your steady and consistent are really great for being your testers and being then ones to really come up with your risk mitigation plan and maybe your… making sure your documentation and testing is thorough. So just think about your team and the change project you’re in and how you can really utilize one another and be honest about yourself and how you might impact the change that is happening on your project. That’s a little exercise that I did many, many years ago with my team and still use to this day that I find very helpful.
We’re going to step into the K and A of the ADKAR model. Its knowledge and the ability for training. This is very important when it comes to your technology implementation project. You can’t just think of training as that classroom style training at the end of your fundraising system implementation. That is one tiny piece of what we’re talking about here. At the very start, if you can, of your project, for those of you who are planning for a project, think about what type of funding is needed, what kind of resources do you have the right people in place. One thing about funding that I’d like to offer up as a consultant, as the vendor who folks hire to help implement technology projects, make sure you’re really realistic with your budget. I would always add in a 30% buffer in there. You don’t even have to show it to your vendors, pretend… don’t share that information but just allow yourself at least a 30% buffer for your budget because you never know what’s going to happen. This is a common practice with construction, in the construction industry.
Another thing to think about is does your leadership need training. I might have mentioned this a little bit before but one of the most important roles in your change project is your sponsor. It’s taken for granted sometimes that your leaders or sponsors of your change project know or understand what their role is. I’ve had examples of leaders who make the mistake of thinking “You know what, I have a great project team. They know what they’re doing. I don’t… you know, I trust them,” which is wonderful but what tends to happen is that they don’t… their nonexistent on the project. They leave everything up to that team and they’re not visible at all. I’ve had the other examples, sponsors who have maybe been too involved. So it is really important to think about your leaders and the sponsors and think about maybe they need training, maybe they need sponsorship coach, coaching. I had a client who was incredibly successful, one of the best sponsors. The reason for that was she worked with and executive coach that worked… that helped her understand what her role was on this project.
Think about your database administrators, do they have what they need? Do they need some primary training? Do you have project managers ready? I have an example. A great example of a client who had someone they designated as their project manager but that person wasn’t the best when it came to managing time lines. That wasn’t what they were interested in doing. They were really interested in the content. So what they did was they repurposed that person to be the business process, the subject matter expert. Then there was somebody else in the organization who didn’t… wasn’t… didn’t know much about the content but they’re a great task master and they’re really interested in managing a budget and scope.
They didn’t have any formal project management experience but they actually empowered that person early on and gave them the resources for some self-training and they became an excellent advocate and lead for that project. So really think about the people on your project from the very… from the get-go and see what kind of resources they need to be successful. When you’re thinking about training, think about it holistically from the start to the end. Think about training after your system is live, that is really important. You need ongoing training.
Think about the different way people like to learn. You know, are they kinesthetic, visual, oratory learners. You might want to do a survey to assess what type of training people would like. Do they like to read documentation? Do they like videos? Do they like in-class demos? Maybe all of the above. Be very creative in your training approach.
Lastly, the last part of the ADKAR model is the R which is reinforcements. Reinforcement, because it is the last letter, it sometimes gets forgotten but it is probably one of the most important concepts for a change project. The concept of reinforcement is… can probably best be summarized in this statement, “I will continue to do X. I will continue to enter data into my new fundraising systems.” Reinforcement is important so that one, the change actually sticks and once a change initiative is done, the next time a change happens, because you have good reinforcements in place, that change initiative will be more successful. So reinforcements are so important for that example.
Some ways, reinforcements can be celebratory acknowledgements and I’ll give you some examples but another form of reinforcement that I think is really important that you do when you’re undergoing a technology project is making sure people are accountable for what they’re responsible for in this project. For example, I’ve had clients who have… if they have a SMART goal… you know, SMART goals at your organization or annual review process or even your job description and if maybe you’re moving to a new fundraising system. I’ve had clients who have built that into their SMART goals or job descriptions. For example, the major gift fund raiser weren’t in the old system required to manage their portfolio in their report… in a pipeline report. They had… this is very typical I know, Excel spreadsheets or their own systems. It actually was in the new system, the new system had better ways to manage that online so that you can share information and information needed to be inputted by the major gift officer. So those specific requirements were actually in their SMART goals. They were accountable for that. That’s a great example of something that not everyone does but it is actually a way of reinforcing why this is important. So think about your annual reviews, your SMART goals and deferment ways to make sure people are accountable for this.
Lastly, it is really important to celebrate and acknowledge the little milestones throughout this project. It’s a marathon. A fundraising implementation or any technology project is long and it is a lot of work and for every little milestone you have to make sure you’re celebrating that. It’s really important that you have a very clear support plan in place for afar you go live. Sometimes I’ve had a lot of clients that I’ve worked with that really just focus on go live which is important. The day that your new fundraising system goes live but forget that it’s… honesty going to take a year or two for folks to really use the system, to get used to it, to adopt the system and that is a very, very important phase and shouldn’t be… should be really planned out. That’s where a lot of change management can come into play.
So think about after go live how are you going to support your users? Do you have a plan in place? Do you have a helpdesk or a couple of key people who are going to… the go to to help people? Maybe the three weeks after go live you have sort of an emergency plan of folks how are working full time to support folks. Do you have a training plan that extends beyond go live? Do you have user groups? Do you have a way for your users to submit great ideas that they may have when they use the system? Do you have a way for them to submit problems they’re having with the system? You have to think about those things that are post go live that are about reinforcing and using the system.
I’d like to share that we have developed a manual or it is a 19 page document of all the best practices and tips from all of our clients in the period of pre go live, go live, and post go live. An example I’ll give you from this really great manual which for those of you who are interested, they’re really specific, concrete examples from clients, even actual emails we’ve taken out references of obviously the organization, emails they’ve written that show you the different communications you can use in a project like this. If you’re interested, you can email me which I’ll show you that in a second.
One example I want to share is that we had a client who had go live kits for go live day. It was just a small memento of different little symbols that symbolized what you’ll need for go live. It created a lot of excitement for go live day, it was like a survival kit. There was candy in there. There was just the different little things you need to survive go live so be creative in that approach. I see that I am at time here. I want to make sure I leave room for questions but I also want to share with you.
I promised that I’ll share with your resources. There are a couple of things we can do. We’ve written a lot about change management. We have a white paper that is available on our website. As you can see the address is here, teamheller.com/managing-technology-change for that white paper. We will also, as Jay mentioned, their recording is available on the DonorSearch.net website. It will be available on our website. If you are interested in receiving that, you know that best communication practice, those samples and tips and tricks from our clients, email me at Smita@teamheller.com.
Also, if you have ideas or questions unique to your organization, I love to talk about this stuff. I’m happy to chat with any of you personally so don’t hesitate to email me. I can go on and on about this topic but I’ll respect the time limit we have today but please email me. I think we’re at that time for any questions. I will hand it off to Jay.
Jay: Thank you very much Smita. Really, really appreciate it. There was a lot of content here plus, since you involved everyone throughout the presentation, they may have been kind of answering some of the questions together that they might have asked. There is a few minutes for anyone to post any questions you have. So please do post any questions or comments in the questions tab so that she can address them right here and now. We do have a couple that are cued up. I have a question of my own as well but I’ll wait on that until we’ve answered the others. We also, I want to note, Smita, you may not have seen this but some people were actually addressing parts of the survey just live online so later when you see these you’ll see some of those notes. Just one that struck me was someone said… and I can’t remember, think this was on the third of the polling questions that it was hard to answer because we thought and talked about it and invested some time but we have no invested financial resources. That echoes a question that has come in which has to do with what to do when you’ve got a massive change but you don’t have the budget or maybe another way of putting it is you haven’t applied budget, to hire a team of consultants or have internal resources dedicated to change management. What do you advise people as they’re trying to either get that allocation or work within a limited allocation of funds?
Smita: Thanks Jay. That’s a great question and one that’s a really common scenario. Actually most of our clients are in that situation and I think just to show you also the nonprofit sector It’s still pretty new to invest financially in change management. Not so much the case in for profit technology projects. Most of them have some change management. What I would do is there are ways to get around that.
For most of my clients we don’t necessarily have a change management team, it is the project manager on your side and your regular project team who are taking on change management so some of those things that I just mentioned, that I just mentioned, are done by the regular project team, not a separate team. I would also say that some creative things folks have done is use their internal marketing or communications department to help them with strategizing around what kind of communications can we do to help with this project. I can give you another example as using those resources out there that we showcased and you know you can email me but also minimally we worked with organizations that don’t really have the financial budget is playing a coach role. That’s just guiding them and sort of telling the client what they can do without… and that is very minimal time, it is a very small financial investment but at least giving them something, tools and resources to do the change themselves.
Jay: I wonder if there’s maybe an analogy in here with some of what we’ve seen among nonprofits over the past 20 years where, for example, first we really had to evangelize for data appending, for screening of data and now everybody does some level of screening and research. That’s why DonorSearch is here. Then also with analytics, there was a time when it was just things like Polk data and now there are data scientists in a good number of institutions and at, of course, the corporations you work with. They might have 500 to a thousand data scientists working at places like Target. So now we’re seeing of course a lot more investment of resources within nonprofits and universities and colleges. I wonder how much this is awareness and investing so that people can be at the top of their game.
Smita: Yeah. That is a great point, Jay. I think that another analogy I have that is more technology related that I’ve seen happen with this is project management. I know that ten years ago when we were working on implementation projects we had to really explain to our nonprofit clients the need for a project manager, just to manage a timeline. We were doing a lot of that work just to explain why it is important and now it is not even… we work with organizations that have the best project managers on staff. No one even questions it.
My hope is that also will be the case with change management in larger for profit organizations. I’ll tell you one end of the spectrum you might see, a change management office, like a PMO. They are responsible for thinking about all the changes that are happening at the organization. It’s very strategic which makes sense, right? How does all of these individual projects impact the whole and the organization’s strategy? That’s one end of the spectrum. Some that have a few folks who are changed, their role is change management, and sometimes they live in IT or different departments. Then you have some organizations that work with a few consultants. They outsource it. Then you have where were at is mostly no special resources but they’re project managers or the project team doing the project is doing the change management and they’re grabbing from the resources or maybe working with one consultant to help them or guide them.
Jay: Sure. Yeah, maybe some of this is an appetizer when they don’t realize how hungry they are for this yet. In fact somebody just mentioned, Anna says, “I love the tip to approach the awareness as a campaign. That’s a great way to talk to fundraisers,” she says, “in their frame of reference. Thank you.” So again, building awareness first. Then Michelle says, “I’m the communications team,” so it is a team of one, “I am the communications team and I’ve been asked to lead the change. How do I interact with programs on this and how can I reach or 3,500 employees?”
Smita: Oh wow. Okay. That’s a great question. So it sounds like Michelle, you are… the change initiative you’re working on is impacting your department but you’re also the resource, the communications department that has to impact program folks. That’s a lot of employees, 3,500. I’ll first maybe ask the obvious. That’s is really, really large organization that I would try to see if you could get more resources. I mean of course if it is at all possible.
One thing I do want to mention is Prosci, and Michelle I can… oh, I know, it won’t happen. I’m just going to put it out there. There’s this really cool case study by Prosci that talks about the ROI of change management. It’s a great little article about… better explains ROI which is nice. Anyways, if that is impossible, you’re communication, you do have actually the skill sets that may become more intuitively to you as a communications person, I bet some of the things that we mentioned today are things you know about like when you’re thinking about communications messaging, the who and the what’s in it for me and the best way to communicate, delivery methods, that is something that you probably apply those methods, your communication plan. I’d like to… if you email me personally, I’d like to share with you that manual that we developed that has very specific templates and tips and tricks from our clients.
Another suggestion is maybe doing some change management awareness to your organization, to your sponsors so they understand that one person working with 3,600 employees is quite a big ask, that just to do… I mean it is a little bit of a long term thing but I think educating folks at your organization, especially the sponsors, on what this is… it is not just a nice to have, this is about… it is a return on your investment. If people don’t change, if it is a fundraising implementation, they’re not going to use a system, it is a moot point, there’s no point in doing it. You’ve lost all that money. I would recommend doing as much awareness building with your sponsors to help them understand what you’re faced with. And please email me.
Jay: And we do those reports for that reason too so maybe this can be a tool for that. They get to hear from somebody on the outside whose been doing these implementations and so that is another additional argument for her, some ammunition. That’s going to the question of depth I guess when you’ve got so many employees as you said in your department of one. What about the issue of breadth? So let’s say your organization is one that either has a lot of chapters across the country or even maybe employees around the world. Does that pose kind of a different set of questions or can you use the same approach?
Smita: Yeah I think you use the same approach. It’s just how you scale. For example, which we work with a lot of chapters and affiliations. Typically what that change management is even more important in those cases because sometimes you’re dealing with the relationship of those affiliates or chapters with one another and with national which is multi layered. So you just have to be strategic on your… with your organizing your stake holder groups. For example, thinking very strategically about who is going to represent each chapter and being very strategic on those representatives of those chapters they have a certain role in the project and then making sure that the people who have some accountability over those chapters has a role. Does that make sense? It’s more about creating really good subgroups in that hierarchy so that you’re getting good representation from everyone. If it is 3,500 or your organization you can’t get 3,500, the buy in of all of those folks but you need good representatives of the various interest groups within that organization.
Smita: So you’re going to create different sub groups.
Jay: I know we’re at the 11th hour here because it is 4:02 but if you don’t mind, I have two quick questions for you myself that go to some of these issues. One is about timing. Actually they both relate to timing. You talked earlier in the presentation about you may need to do interviews to learn from your stakeholders and apply that information which makes so much sense. It’s a lot like what we do with feasibility studies for campaigns and so forth. My question is about timing on that. Do you commit to the change you want to make and the shape of that change before or after you assess the WIIFM, the what’s in it for me?
Smita: That’s a great question. If possible I would do both. We’ve worked… and we have a case study up on our website which was an organization that did this really well, Make a Wish. Before the change, before they even got the buy in, we did interviews. Just to understand what’s in it for these different folks to do this change and whether they’re in support of the change and why… and if they’re not in support of the change, what’s the reasons why? If you’re able to do that, that will help build your case for change because you might… before you start going down the path of designing what that change is, you might early on… it is like a feasibility study, in that same vein you understand the sort of risks or pros to it and then I would do the… you do them throughout. So that is the first phase, then after the change is introduced, another interviewer survey to gauge now it is been introduced how are you feeling about it? What are the concerns about this change? How do you feel like you can be better engaged? Then I would do it again after maybe the first training or user acceptance testing.
Smita: It’s this constant feedback loop to better understand your stakeholders on the project.
Jay: Right and probably also to address that thing that happens sometimes when people haven’t been inventoried or asked questions or looked at in the eye about their needs and that is to overcome sometimes… and this was my last question, to overcome maybe past experiences that once burned twice shy syndrome.
Jay: Because most of us have lived through a really bad implementation or technological change or some kind of organizational change. My last question may be difficult to answer is how do you overcome the bad experience which you have no responsibility for but you know you have to help everybody move into the future?
Smita: Yeah that is a great question. A hard one too. I learned from a lot of the organizations I worked with actually, in doing that I saw one organization do this well. There was a really, really bad experience and they were just… and they had nothing to do with it… it really affected and impacted everything they were doing moving forward. They were just very transparent and honest about it. For example, talking about it and really being clear on why that was a bad change and the lessons learned from it and being upfront about “Okay, we know that wasn’t successful and these were the lessons learned and this is what we’re going to do differently this time.” So I think being very upfront form the get go about that, don’t just ignore it or just assume people are going to that will always be there if you don’t really address it upfront. Also if there’s really other than being upfront and honest, you have to do a lot of listening in that example and a lot of just engaging of your stakeholders. Constant engagement. That is really the only way to sort of get through a really bad experience. It might take time, they’ll be a point, then at some point you’ll build trust but it does take longer in cases where you had a really sort of bad legacy or bad experience that sort of haunts the particular project.
Jay: Right, right. Well you’ve certainly modeled that behavior in that presentation asking questions throughout. Not only do we appreciate all the content you’ve offered but also making sure everybody was involved and had an opportunity to ask questions and I’m sure there are others and so once again, I don’t know if you can pull up that slide with your contact information.
Jay: But if you’re still with us here, some people had to check out on the hour but if you’re with us or if you’re listening to this after the fact, you can see right there her email address. I would encourage you once again to reach out to her for a copy of the slide deck but perhaps more importantly access to a person who knows how to get change done. Once again, you can get a copy of the recording here as well as on their website that will be posted shortly.
If you’re interested in recordings of these other flash classes, we have some extraordinary faculty like we had today you’ll find dozens of these presentations under the resources tab, recorded webinars at DonorSearch.net. We are doing these at a rate of one to two a week now. They’re a blast. We love having you here and we would love to have come back for the next one so tune in. In fact we’ve got one coming up tomorrow at 1PM. Don’t miss it and hopefully we can again encourage Smita to come back and join us and present once again in the future. Thank you so much Smita for you time today.
Smita: Thank you so much.
Jay: Okay, thanks everybody. We’ll look forward to seeing you next time. Take care.[END OF TRANSCRIPT]