Have you ever been sitting at a traffic signal waiting for the light to turn green – while in a hurry of course! – and the person in front of you is still texting away when the light finally does change? Getting someone to actually do something is very different than simply giving that person the tools he or she needs to perform that action. That’s why flipping the switch and activating a new computer system is not at all the same as having your employees actually use that new system!
In our world of implementing positive changes in organizations, we consider it the critical difference between “go live” and “adoption”. You might be implementing new business processes or maybe it’s standardizing your operating procedures rather than installing a new computer system. Regardless of the nature of the changes you are implementing, having people accept those changes takes much more than simply declaring they are now in effect. It’s very much like having that light turn green and not having the first driver move his/her car. It has nothing to do with whether or not the light works. Instead, it has everything to do with whether or not the driver chooses to move!
Most project management practices focus on go live, not adoption. They define a cutover date. They establish and monitor the budget and timing to achieve that cutover date. They rarely, however, focus on the people side of those organizational changes.
Were our true business objectives met? Did our people develop the knowledge and skills required to perform their jobs differently? Did we achieve our expected ROI (return on investment)? These are the kinds of questions you might ask if you are concerned with adoption instead of just go live. As you can see, the measures for success with regards to adoption are very different. They’re much more about successfully transforming your business rather than merely focusing on a prescribed date or budgeted dollar amount.
As many as 80% of all organizational change efforts fail to achieve their desired outcomes according to any number of studies that have been published over the past 25 years. Either they’re not completed on time or they significantly exceed their established project budgets or they simply don’t deliver their expected business benefits. There are lots of reasons for this. If you simply listen to William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions, though, he’ll tell you, “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions.” People rarely just accept changes because someone tells – or even asks – them to. People need to understand what’s going on and why things are changing, and then – maybe then – they will manage through their natural, individual reactions to the transition process to accept those changes.
Are you trying to implement some positive changes in your organization? Feeling like you’re stuck at a green light and the driver in front of you isn’t moving? Give us a call at 866.PLS.DLTA (or +1.310.589.4600 outside the US) or visit the Change Management page of our website. Let us help you become one of the mere 20% who do actually achieve success when implementing organizational changes!