We’ve seen that effective change management is essential for rolling out KCS. It makes sense. KCS asks leaders to measure and communicate differently. KCS changes the mechanics of how knowledge workers do their jobs and how they think about the job. Often, this happens as we replace tools or reconfigure them. That’s a lot of change!
We get asked about change management services from time to time. It’s funny, because all the services we offer support change management…it’s just not in most of their names. In this post, I’d like to connect the dots between our offerings and change management.
Change Management Techniques
The two change management frameworks that our clients talk about are ADKAR® and Kotter. ADKAR was developed by Prosci and is an acronym for the five outcomes needed to enable change: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. [Book Link] Kotter, developed by John Kotter, provides eight specific actions for enabling change. [Book Link] Organizations with change management teams usually develop their own take on one or both of these methods. They’re codified common sense.
Because Kotter is a bit more specific, I’ll be referring to its eight steps in this post.
Start with the Vision
KCS is rarely done for its own sake. Rather, KCS contributes to a larger organizational vision. The vision might be digital transformation, shifting left, or elevating the customer experience. KCS is typically one of several initiatives being rolled out under the banner of this larger effort.
The larger vision is a great foundation for KCS change management. It provides a compelling “why,” which is a prerequisite for change.
One approach I like for sharing the overall vision is to write the Forbes article…or the Wall Street Journal article or whatever you think resonates in your culture. If you’re successful in your transformation journey, what would you want Forbes to say about you? How did you increase efficiency, customer successes, employee engagement, and business growth? Then write the article from the future that tells what you’ve done and how you did it. Using narrative has more power to create alignment than any PowerPoint deck ever created.
This takes care of Kotter’s Step 1, Create a Sense of Urgency, as well as Step 3, Form a Strategic Vision and Initiatives.
Once we’ve established in people’s minds that KCS is the foundation for the transformational vision, we can focus on KCS. Here’s where DB Kay’s service offerings deliver change.
How Our Offerings Deliver Change Management
- Design Workshop. When people own the decisions about how a program will work, as they do in this session, they feel ownership in the program. Also, the Design Workshop participants form the core of your KCS Council. This is Kotter’s Step 2, Build a Guiding Coalition. The subteams that come out of the design workshop are the start of Step 4, Enlisting a Volunteer Army.
We also do hands-on work on the Communications Plan and the Strategic Framework. As workshop participants discuss how to communicate the benefits to their colleagues, they’re convincing themselves, too. And, we handle objections from the group as they come up, which is an especially important part of the Design Workshop—even if it doesn’t show up on the official agenda.
- Leadership Workshop. This session focuses primarily on measures, leadership, and communication. As a practical matter, front-line managers are often the greatest impediments to KCS adoption. It’s not that they have anything against KCS, but to them it may seem like KCS gets in the way of accomplishing what they currently see as their business goals. So, a big reason for doing Leadership Workshops is Step 5, Enable Action by Removing Barriers.
- Coach Workshop. Coaches are the most powerful change agents to bring KCS to each individual worker. So, once again, you’re Enlisting a Volunteer Army and giving them specific training in influence skills. Well-trained coaches are crucial for Step 6, Generate Short Term Wins, and Step 7, Sustain Acceleration.
- KCS Adoption and Change Management Services. We used to call this package of services “Experts on Call,” but I think this is a more descriptive name. In this engagement, we will provide hands-on help and guidance for the entire change management journey, from planting seeds initially to moving through the phases of adoption, KCS’s maturity model. By continuing to partner with you, we specifically help with Sustain Acceleration and Step 8, Institute Change.
Building Sustainable Relationships Through KCS
I quip that one of the most valuable things about our design workshops is that it provides an excuse to assemble a bunch of colleagues who may never have met, put them in the same room, and have them work together. It sounds funny, but it’s absolutely true.
If we do this in person, it’s easier, and we can do an after-work meal or activity together to get to know each other as people, not just as employees. However, we’ve been 100% virtual since March 11, 2020, and it still works.
In the Design Workshop, there are two big exercises we do as subteams: analyzing companies that are struggling with KCS by looking at metrics and conducting interviews, and working on key elements of the communications plan for specific audiences. Because these are smaller groups, and we’re not listening in all the time, even people who have been quiet during the workshop get engaged. These exercises form real bonds among the participants.
The design part of the design workshop continues this. The team is making important decisions about the program as a group. In addition to ownership, it also creates a sense of being a team.
During the workshop we have participants sign up for subteams to carry aspects of the work forward. These subteams meet after the design workshop and create deliverables together, with templates and support from us. This further builds the bond.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a name. This group is the KCS Council. They’ve gone through ordeal by fire together, perhaps, by getting KCS v6 Certified. They can put both certification and participation in the Council on their LinkedIn profiles. Wherever they are in the world, they stay connected to their colleagues as they help guide the KCS change management forward.