- The first job for leaders is to establish a clear and compelling rationale for the change–the “why.” This requires paying close attention to the context for the change and explicitly defining the problem using clear communication. Leaders often gloss over this and assume broader stakeholders have the same understanding of the problem. A good rule of thumb: spend at least 50% of your initial communications on defining the problem using a written narrative rather than a slide deck.
- For communication to stick, it must be clear, concise, consistent, and continuous. It’s not about launching and moving on; it’s about constantly communicating, getting feedback, learning, and adjusting. Communications assets like executive summaries, FAQs, and case studies help reinforce the message. Roadshows, town halls, and workshops are effective vehicles for delivering the message.
- Leaders must be forthright in acknowledging that uncertainty is inherent in everything they discuss and clear about the assumptions underlying the strategy. This level of openness helps build trust — an essential precondition for getting people moving in the same direction.
- Effective communications build the foundation for better alignment, the next step in the process.
Alignment activities keep stakeholders on the same page, gauging where there is a misunderstanding, lack of support, or resistance.
It happens at three levels:
1. aligning analytics strategy and people,
2. people and decision processes, and
3. decision processes and behaviors.
Alignment, or engagement, requires conversations, listening to concerns, and processing feedback. Unlike communications, which tend to be one-to-many, gaining alignment is more of a one-to-one approach that typically includes coaching, workshops, roadshows, and counseling. However, just as with communications, transparency is essential to building trust. Alignment creates the conditions for effective learning by providing the context for behavioral change — aligning the work people do with the required behaviors.
Learning is the critical enabler for transforming change into continuous improvement. It combines traditional instructor-led and self-directed learning with three clear distinctions related to the curriculum and the approach to learning; it:
1. Combines mindset training and technical skill sets,
2. Is highly contextual, tied to specific decision processes and the requisite behaviors supporting those processes, and
3. continuously reinforced with the intent of turning practices into habits.
In addition, continuous learning leads to mastery, a crucial element of human motivation. As employees learn and grow, mastering the essential skills and concepts, they experience positive reinforcement that triggers a flywheel effect, driving more of the desired behaviors of data-driven organizations, which at their core are committed to learning and adapting.
The primary goal of measurement is to track the degree to which the change effort impacts predetermined success criteria. In other words, is the change having the desired impact? While setting and measuring goals related to company performance is important, they are not sufficient for driving change. Instead, organizations need to decide on the activities and behavioral changes that will drive the desired overall change and measure those. These activities serve as the “leading indicators,” or inputs of change, with the goals (performance metrics) serving as the lagging indicators or outputs. Tools like a Change Scorecard track change activities, employee sentiment, and behavior change metrics that leaders review to gauge progress and determine where they may need to intervene and modify activities or communications.