How to involve staff in business change.
This is a continuation in our series from looking at researching the needs for business change. At this point we should involve staff with the process. Once on-site there are a few techniques that can be tried depending on the business culture. I have listed these below highlighting their pro’s and cons.
Involve staff in interviews
Interviews can be a good way to elucidate information from all members of the organisation. Once approached you generally find that people are willing to offer what they know which helps them feel included with the program. A few people might hold out if they feel that the information may be used against them or diminishes their use to the organisation (what makes them feel indispensable). Other forms of inducement may be needed to extract information out of them such as possibilities of making their job easier or possible promotions as tasks change.
Asking a member of staff to reinact each activity within a process helps produce a step by step guide of what is involved. It may seem patronising, like a photo opportunity with Prince Phillip and a factory production line worker, but it is a way to see a logical demonstration of each task. Details described here can easily be missed in a verbal conversation. This form of enquiry is called “Protocol analysis”.
Get everyone together for a workshop.
Workshops are a good way to get all the stakeholders together and thrash through ideas. It takes a lot to preparation as you need to keep in mind specific outcomes, or questions you want answered, so that the focus remains on track. People need to have the authorisations to either make decisions or at least recommendations to the executive, otherwise it becomes simply another talk fest. It is a good way to get cross departmental discussion and different perspectives are encouraged. It needs to be properly adjudicated so that busy bodies or forceful personalities can’t take over and stifle genuine debate.
Workshops should not turn into a lecture, but you should lead to facilitate interaction. It is for their benefit so the format should be enabled to grant access to a 2-way street of communication. There are several techniques to help the group to gel and generate ideas. These are:
- Round robin.
- Brain writing.
- Sticky note display.
- Step wise refinement (ask why till your breakdown the problem to get to the crux of the matter)
- Small focus groups.
The results can then be visualised and displayed back to the group for confirmation and further reworking.
- Story board
- Process diagram.
- Task scenarios (Role Plays)
- Mind maps.
- User stories (Testimonials)
Go intense with “Hot House”
Workshops can be defined for different business functions. A “Hot house” workshop is a more intense version which is meant for software design applications that bring developers and business executives into the same space. This came out of Lean and Agile methodology which encourages interaction between the end user and programmers to better scope the requirements in the fast-paced world of software. The idea is for both sides to develop a prototype so that developers are more deeply aware of the scope and the executives become more in tune with issues relating to the build. The idea is to limit the misunderstanding that can arise in the process within such a complicated environment. Other techniques maybe used such as walking through members using a variety of scenarios. For physical products, a prototype is a good way to understand each step in the process.
About the Author
Malcolm Ford has assisted companies across the UK with IT transformation projects. He runs staff training programmes and workshops to get involvement at all levels of the organisation.