Q&A: Managing Change: Best Practices and Advice to Be Sure the Change You Get Is the Change You Want

  • by Laura Casasanto, Former Managing Editor
  • May 9, 2011
During implementation projects, change management can be forgotten amid more tangible technology-related project areas. If your employees aren’t adequately prepared for change and assisted with the transition into new processes or work functions, however, the project’s return on investment (ROI) and overall success may suffer. We talked to SAP’s Kerry Brown about the importance of change management and best practices for building a change management initiative.
Change management is really about putting discipline around common sense.
                                                                                                -- Kerry Brown
Kerry will be presenting at the upcoming SAPinsider Managing Your SAP Projects 2016 conference, November 2-4 in Orlando. For information on the event, click here.

Kerry Brown, a global VP, Enablement at SAP, has worked at SAP for seven years and in change management for many years prior. She has experience with both local and international occupational cultures and has worked with senior-level executives and industry leaders across a variety of industries. She has successfully developed and led teams for complex global initiatives and system implementations, helping organizations achieve the greatest value through organizational competency. She specializes in strategic management, organizational development, program management, and business process improvement and has spoken at numerous conferences on topics surrounding change management, including SAP’s recent Run Better Tour. We talked with Kerry to hear her thoughts on change management and get advice on the best route to take to create an effective change management initiative.

What does change management encompass?

Change management is fundamentally about managing expectations and accountabilities.  It encompasses the preparation, transition, and support of the people within an organization to enable a successful shift to a new way of working. This strategy includes alignment at all levels of the organization and answers questions such as what do I do differently? and what’s in it for me? from the CEO all the way to the individual contributor. 

Typical work areas include stakeholder management, governance, communications, skills and competencies (training), organizational alignment, performance management, and monitoring of all of these areas. Change management drives engagement and enables user adoption and business transformation, bringing sustainable user performance.

The change curve (Figure 1) moves from contact and awareness to understanding and acceptance to commitment to action (i.e., adoption by an individual or an organization). All of those work areas I listed are done along the curve at the right point in time to communicate to everyone what they need to know and what they need to do so that they’re engaged when it’s relevant for them.

Figure 1
The change curve

The change curve is actually where you’re moving people along to learn something new. It’s going to happen; they don’t necessarily love it, but they know. They ask a bunch of questions, they get more information, they understand better, and they accept that it’s going to be different.

The change might be that you have a new boss. You’re going to do a new task — whatever it is. OK. You know what? It’s going to happen. Individual adoption comes when you start to do something differently. You communicate with a different person, and you do a different task — whatever that might be. Organizational adoption comes when the whole collection of people does the same thing differently, and that’s what you’re trying to achieve.

The reality is that the adoption of change comes with habit and familiarity. What you’re really trying to do is give people a milestone and a benchmark so that when you do it differently, the change can be rewarded, and over time it will be more comfortable.

Why do people resist change?

Laura Casasanto

Laura Casasanto is a technical editor who served as the managing editor of SCM Expert and Project Expert.

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