Recently, I attended an innovation workshop hosted by KPMG and Sopheon and it featured speakers from Fortune 500 consumer goods companies. As the workshop moved from this speaker to an interactive panel, the conversation flowed around the common innovation challenges felt by attendees, across a variety of industries. This ability to relate to each other’s struggles reflected that regardless of industry, we all have similar pain point areas which we want to improve in our innovation process. Overall, the key struggle attendees voiced was about implementing a global innovation process was the aspect of change management within the organization.

A recent article on the topic of change management outlined the 10 principles and how, ultimately, “companies will reap the rewards only when change occurs at the level of the individual employee”.  One of the 10 principles mentioned in the article was communicate the message:  “The best change programs reinforce core messages through regular, timely advice this is both inspirational and practicable.”

This idea of communicating the message resonated throughout a presentation on best practices for implementing large changes within an organization in a manageable way. A few examples from the session are:

  • The use of change management focused largely around communicating the message across the company though programs such as “training the trainer”. These training sessions enabled mid-level employees to becoming responsible for training lower-level end users for their new innovation process. The responsibility for “communicating the message” is eliminated from the top-level executives and disperses it across the company. The trainers then created learning programs and discussion boards on which, those involved with the change program, would meet monthly to talk about the challenges and successes that they faced during the implementation of the new program. These programs gave the trainers the ability to inspire and motivate the end-users to keep working on the core initiative, as well as giving them practical advice to help resolve the uneasiness of any unexpected hiccups throughout the training process.
  • The same company created a kick-off party where every employee was invited to participate in this launch party and learn the message of the benefits of moving to a new system. Giving individual incentives such as opportunities for promotions and salary increases at these launch parties creates the ability to elicit positive feedback for major organizational changes on an individual level.
  • One of the best ways to get employees to participate in these events is to offer free food, according to the presenter. Food tends to facilitate a positive atmosphere in meeting regardless of the message you are trying to communicate. Employees are more apt to listen and take in the information given, if they have something to munch on during the discussions. It helps break the ice between management and lower-level employees and seems to put everyone on an even playing field for discussion and open communication about the positives and negatives surrounding a project or initiative.

Overall, the best way to get and manage buy-in regarding a major change in your organization is to communicate the message and through training from the beginning. By utilizing everyone in your organization to communicate the overall message, make it a positive environment (such as a launch party), and breaking the ice with free food, you have the ability to take a pain point in your organization and change it into a positive organizational change that will ultimately benefit your company and ease the transition from one program to another.  After listening to this week’s presentation at the Chicago Innovation Workshop, it is clear that the fear of change management is a very real concern when making the decision to significantly change processes within a company. Take the time to communicate and reinforce the message on an individual level and it will ease the transition significantly.

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