Most of my projects with clients involve identifying opportunities for improving creative processes and more effective use of technology in support of creative processes. One of my biggest fears is that the recommended improvements, leading to more effective and efficient creative projects, just won't be implemented or fully adopted. While there are many reasons this can happen, it often comes down to not fully appreciating how difficult it will be to implement true change. And the result is often going back to "the way we've always done it," because it's familiar, comfortable, and hey, it worked before.
But there are things you can do to increase your chances for successful transformation to a new and improved organization. Here are a few things to consider as you implement changes.
Have a plan.
While it may seem pretty basic to make a plan for change, it often doesn't get enough attention. Think about the planning going in to a large ad campaign--it's a complex project that is managed by a Project Manager (at least I would hope so!). Your change project is as complex as any campaign; yet most often creative leaders aren't establishing a process for implementing change. To do so, it's important to identify all of the tasks and their inter-relationships. Build a Work Breakdown Structure and really identify the phases of the project, as well as the tasks and the responsibilities up front. Be sure to include a training plan and a communication plan along with the nuts and bolts of process improvement and implementation. It will serve you well over the life cycle of your change project.
Recognize resource needs.
This is going to be a big project, treat it as one. In a perfect world you would identify a 'change team' and assign a full-time project manager to your change project. If you don't have the resources then consider looking outside for a leader. But still recognize that you will need an internal team that can have input into the change process and also be champions for change throughout the process.
Document your future.
It's important to have a very clear vision of the future state of your organization and its processes. Be sure to include not just the "what" part of change, but also the "why" and "how" as you move forward. Documentation of new processes, SOPs and other standards will be valuable along the way. Be sure that these are living documents, not just some Visio diagrams on a shelf somewhere. The information in your documentation needs to be clear, concise and included in your communication and training throughout the change process.
Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
Lack of communication is one of the biggest risks for failure in a change project. Most people are not fans of change, myself included. The best way to combat this is through consistent and frequent communication throughout the process. I may not like change, but I'm much more likely to get on board if I understand the specific changes and, more importantly, the benefits to me (the "WIIFM"). Those benefits are very different depending on individual roles within the creative process, for example if I'm a designer, the specific benefits will be very different for me than those of an account manager or a traffic manager. And it's especially important if my new tasks are for the benefit of the overall organization. For example, if time tracking is new to your organization, it seems like an extra burden to a designer, but it's providing data for much better reporting metrics and additional improvements in the future. Make sure that this is communicated effectively, and resistance to change will decrease dramatically.
Instill a culture of change.
Nothing fosters success like success. Any change project will have some low hanging fruit that can be implemented early on in order to demonstrate the positive effect of change. These things are especially effective if the changes have been identified or suggested by staff. Be sure to broadcast the positive results of early improvements, and be sure to give appropriate credit when you can. As successes become apparent change can switch from being a burden to being an adventure!
Most organizations can benefit from a re-visioning of status quo. Change can be a very positive move to a more efficient and effective organization. And if you need assistance in that process, Cella is prepared and ready to help along the way.