Dr. Tech Comm - How I learned to Love Change Management


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Hour long presentation comparing and contrasting the skills and capabilities needed to do change management as technical communicators.

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  • [opening shot of Dr. Strangelove, audio of narrator and opening dialogue with Ripper and Mandrake]Before we get started, we want to recommend watching Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, if you’ve never seen it. It’s a true classic, from 1964, with a lot of relevancy for today, and if you’re a Peter Sellers fan, this is one you have to add to your collection. It’s also one of the most quoted movies in history, and you’ll see why throughout the rest of the morning.Change, likewar is “too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training nor the inclination for strategic thought.” General Jack D Ripper probably got this one point right, if nothing else. Chances are pretty good that in additional to personal change (self-help)you’ve been involved in or even victimized by organizational or societal change efforts. Am I right? So when you hear rumblings of the latest methodology, technology, or any other ology coming down from on-high do you start to worry? If not should you? Maybe, maybe not, but we’re here today to talk about change management, and we’re betting by the end you’ll agree it’s too important to be left to politicians, or senior executives.
  • I have wandered the various fields of professional communications for many years, and most of the time I had a title other than Sr. Technical Writer. More often recently I have had change management roles.We’ve changed a lot about TechWhirl in 18 months we’ve owned it, and it’s nice to be able to apply what both Al and I know about change management work in building it. In addition to my TechWhirl content strategist/journalist/editor duties, I’m about to start a new communications/CM role with Coca-Cola. Doing comms for a major technology initiative…so this presentation is actually pretty fortuitous for me.
  • Back to Dr. Strangelove for a second. The guys on the B52 had Plan R, we have Plan C. Plan C will help us all get at least a little more comfortable with the fact that on some level, change is our profession. We deal with changing project schedules, UI, client demands, customer interests, employee needs, content, user experience and a host of other stuff—because the organization is changing something to do one of two things: increase revenue or reduce costs.“Change management, OCM, transformation initiatives”…. Any of these terms sound familiar? Let’s talk about a couple of examples from your experience… what kinds of CM projects have you witnessed in your organization?CM is hot stuff, and consultants make a ton of money “executing change initiatives.” Technical communications… not so muchWhen you think about the change stuff at your company, what are you worrying about? Being made redundant? More work and more rework? Not being left behind? Loss of visibility for you or your team? Something else? We say stop worrying and learn to love change management. Because it's not that hard, you can do a lot of it already… and a shift in perspective plus a few fundamentals can be the first step towards expanding your sphere of influence.We’ll also spend a little time today on why organizations do change management, what skills CM folks need and provide reasons that Tech Comm should be involved, and even in control of change management initiatives in the organization. But first let’s pose a philosophical point for some quick and heady debate: Is change management really the same thing as technical communications?
  • Tell us about some of the tasks you perform regularly or frequently.Ever wondered how many of those fall into tech comm versus change management?
  • In a nutshell, change management comprises all the efforts to plan and execute a set of actions that facilitate change and reduce fear of change. Meetings, training, contests, newsletters, videos, surveys, focus groups, instructions, assessments, and so on are all tools in the OCM team’s kit. Facilitating transition and reducing fear are accomplished by a whole slew of communications tactics. CM focuses on the people side of the business. They research who will be impacted by the change, assess how ready each group is to change, guide them as the change happens, and monitor them to make sure the new stuff sticks.No matter which change management methodology you might choose to follow, one thing is common to all: recognizing that in reality organizations don’t change, people do Here’s the top 2 requirements for an actual OCM Analyst position:Create change management strategy and plan which, at a minimum includes plans for stakeholder identification and sponsorship management, communications, training and organizational readiness assessment. Integrate content of communication, training and change activities to ensure focus on behavioral change. Work with other project team members to gather and analyze detailed information about the process design and the impact on the roles and the organizations affected How much of this sounds like activities you have responsibility for?
  • On the other hand…. A lot of what we learn about technical communication, either in school, through professional development, or via the on-the-job experience has to do with facilitating change, most often to improve the experience of our customers in using our products or services. Technical Communicators research audiences to find out what they need (or want), help assess how the organization’s product/service should be developed to meet those needs, monitor and test to make sure it does what we say it does, instruct and/or train customers on how to use the product, monitor feedback and results of usage and provide recommendations on what should happen next. For example one senior technical writer position lists the following requirements (among others): Works independently to gather and research engineering and development information for use in customer-facing documents (user guides, release notes, technical notes/bulletins, reference manuals, others).Achieves a deep understanding of the technical concepts that are introduced into existing products as new releases/features, with minimal assistance.Interviews customer support engineers, test engineers, hardware/software developers, and other technical personnel, as required, to become proficient with product technology.So are change management and technical communication really the same thing? (Not really, but let them discuss it)
  • In fact CMs and TCs share a lot of the same skill sets and have similar objectives for the work they do, whether or not they occupy the same space in the organizational and functional hierarchy. Both TCs and CMs must be able to define the who, what, when where why and how of communicating some set of messages to facilitate a change—whether it’s buying and using a product or retooling the organization.How can doing CM expand your sphere of influence? If you’re like me, or Group Captain Mandrake, you take on a lot of the tasks of both, even if your job title leans completely CM or TC.
  • Key requirements and skills from actual job descriptions:Gather information/researchPlan (messaging, training, communications)Assess (risk, current state, needs, etc.)Develop clear concepts (visual, textual)Communicate (write, design, record, edit, deliver)Organize (tasks, resources, schedules)Implement (communicate, analyze, measure, revise)We’ve found that CM happens when there’s more budget, and when the CM consultants come in they take control, often direct tech comm efforts.Clearly a good technical communicator and a good organizational change management analyst share skills and disciplinesIn environments where there’s less budget, the duties fall to tech comm. So we ask, “Why not take control from the get go?”
  • The answer might have something to do with 90 percent. In fact 90 percent of change management fails.Let’s go back to some of those examples of change management you mentioned. Would you say they succeeded or failed? Chances are they failed. Why?Typical factors we can see:Failure to communicate necessary information about when, why and howConflict between various parts of the organizationDifficulty in learning the new process or tool. Comes down to this Change management fails because of the people. People with emotions, individual perspectives and varying abilities to comprehend, or to reason logically or intuitively.How much of technical communications fails? We’ve seen lots of discussion on the dreadful state of most user and technical documentation. We often hear that nobody reads the manual, and complaints from support because of RTFM. What are the complaints you most often have to put up with?Yes TC often fails because of the same three things: emotion, logic and circumstance.
  • If you’ve ever been involved in a change initiative, you may have been exposed to the formal Prosci methodology of change management: ADKARAwareness of the need for changeDesire to participate and support the changeKnowledge on how to changeAbility to implement required skills and behaviorsReinforcement to sustain the changeThe reality is that we’re dealing with six tons of emotion vs a couple hundred pounds of logic and an immense tangled jungle of corporate intrigue, conflicting agendas, and management speak.We can talk ADKAR and plan; implement, assess, revise; current state, future state, stakeholder analysis, change readiness and a pile of other stuff. But simply put: You’ll only have successful change when you win the hearts and minds of people and show them the way to get there. This is the thrust of Chip & Dan Heath’s book Switch: How to change things when change is hard. They base their ideas and advice on an analogy developed by Jonathan Haidt—the Rider and the Elephant and the Path.Logic: what facts and data support moving from the current state to the future state? Represented by the Rider. Emotion: visceral responses –overwhelmed by fear or confusion, responding to danger, discovering happiness or satisfaction Represented by the Elephant.Route: the specifics on how to reach the overall goal “how do we get there from here?” Represented by the Path.So let’s talk in a little more detail about each of these, the Rider the Elephant and the Path. I want to start with a short quote from Switch:“Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant.”
  • Let’s take a look at this Rider.The rider is the rational side—tends to discover “TBU”—true but useless information to support actual change. Often the TBU makes the situation that needs changing appear overwhelming… One of Switch’s examples involves Jerry Sternin, who in 1990 was working for Save the Children. He did his homework before leaving on his assignment for Viet Nam. He knew all the statistics on poverty, sanitation, illnesses that affects undernourished children. But when he went into the field in Viet Nam, he saw that all that data wasn’t going to help address the need for real answers to childhood malnutrition. Instead he asked mothers in villages to weigh and measure all of the children and discover which ones were bigger, and healthier. Then encouraged them to go find out why. They needed direction, already had motivation (protecting their children) He helped them start community gatherings among families, where they could talk among themeselves and demonstrate simple changes to cooking to add protein, changing to more frequent meals (4x daily vs 2x), washing hands. Local wisdom redirected, rather than outsiders.The Rider is the one who sets the objectives for the initiative, summarizes the results of the stakeholder analysis, and writes the communications plans, and organizes the status meetings and reviews the survey results… over and over…“The Rider is a thinker and a planner and can plot a course for a better future. But as we’ve seen, the Rider has a terrible weakness—the tendency to spin his wheels.”It’s possible to direct the Rider, so that movement happens. Use that rationality to define what’s working, uncover specific behaviors and set clear goals. But rather than get caught in an endless loop of analysis and resetting, step back and use what you know to script the moves and point to the destination.In the “first world”, directing the Rider means making the destination clear (everyone on the new system, no exceptions), working with your stakeholders to find the bright spots (why are 25% of employees submitting their timesheets on time-let’s have everyone do what their doing) Incrementing change…. And we see some parallels in tech comm: Agile development, Google or Mindtouch and their incremental releases. As opposed to MS Word 2007 where everything looked different, and people made small fortunes building add-ins to make it look like the old MS Word.
  • Do you think the typical TC or content strategist has the skill set to direct the Rider? The TC has ability to analyze current state, design future state, and develop content for incremental changes. The CM has the ability to analyze current state, get consensus on future state, and monitor how and whether changes are taking hold.I think TC’s can easily do some of this: our research skills, combined with ability to diagnose or troubleshoot should give us the ability to find the bright spots. Talking to SME’s and end users is part of our business (or should be). Add some CM perspective to asking questions, and you have a recipe for uncovering really useful information to help direct the effort.What about scripting critical moves and pointing to the destination? Do these fall into the TC skill set?TC’s are pretty good at scripting tasks, maybe not so much pointing to the destination. So if we have plans in place, understand the data about what should happen, why can’t we make it happen?
  • Even if we direct the Rider successfully, we may not be able to make the switch we’re looking for. … because as much as we might like to believe otherwise, logic and rationality are not enough. “behavior change happens in highly successful situations mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.” Heath, Chip; Heath, Dan.Compared to 20 years ago, technical communications has come a long way in recognizing that dry, complicated, written procedures are rarely followed by those who need the information most. Emotional appeal is evident in successful apps, growth of user experience. Instructions aren’t enough… demonstrable need for change using emotional appeal through visuals, sound and motion.The Heaths refer to successful change as “Not analyze-think-change but see-feel-change.” It’s giving that Elephant the impetus to move in the direction you want him to go. Switch / Heart of Change example Glove Shrine. John Stegner worked for large manufacturer… clear goal to drive down purchasing costs by 2%. Big change, lots of data to support, hard to get buy in. Assigned summer intern to investigate all the work gloves purchased throughout the organization. Uncovered that 424 types of work gloves purchased ranging from $5 to $17 per pair (sometimes for the same glove). Got sample of each, tagged them with the price and piled them on the boardroom table. Division president reactions were visceral—”we really buy all of these?”, “we really pay that much” “… It’s crazy we need to fix it!” … emotional buy in. motivated to change.In a battle between the rider and the elephant – who wins? We need to have the emotions on our side …
  • Is this easy for Technical communicators? Maybe not when looking at the TC in a more traditional light. TC’s generally stick to logic, concision and accuracy. Then again, think about excited good TC’s get when discussing a new way to instruct users (Online help, PDFs, videos) or all the big changes we’re handling in content strategy.Unmotivated members of an organization supervised by rational, analytical types devoted to logic--- sound familiar? How often does the change swirl into oblivion—preceded by surveys, training and WBTs, company-wide meetings and such? The Rider has fallen victim to analysis paralysis, sheer exhaustion, and the elephant continues to lumber aimlessly. In the real tech com related world, the software we’ve been documenting for years suffers from version fatigue, propped up by the desire to make improvements without considering what improvements are needed and how users will respond. How do you get people to successfully use the product? If you’re not creating motivation at an emotional level, they won’t RTFM, they won’t go to training, but they will complain about the product.If it’s emotional to you…. Under deadline pressure etc., remember, it’s not to the folks making the decisions. For them it’s just business… unless you have an emotional appeal directed at them, and their needs.So, TC’s actually can motivate the elephant, with a little practice. TC’s should create content with emotional appeal (even if it’s appealing to fear or boredom) as well as accuracy, and support building the identity of a successful user of the product (community forums, etc.) Complementing this, CM’s assess the risks of not changing and of changing, and create the messaging to direct the effort.Leaders speak to both the elephant and the rider.
  • What looks like a person problem is often a situation problem. E.g. “stupid users” who ought to know how to use style sheets vs. users who are used to manually formatting a document, because they see the bold and italic buttons.Psychologist Lee Ross refers to this as Attribution Error. “The error lies in our inclination to attribute people’s behavior to the way they are rather than to the situation they are in.”TC’s are good at uncovering information – and shaping the path requires information about the change, and the folks impacted by the change. CM’s are good at aligning the what needs to change with how people will respond to change. Both have skills that can be used to change the situation.“Tweaking the environment is about making the right behaviors a little bit easier and the wrong behaviors a little bit harder.” User experience folks are really good at this… Designing an app to make ordering easier, and abandoning the cart harder. Colors, phrasing, icons all useful in tweaking. Outside of software, tweaking the environment can be seen in things like marking the pavement in a busy intersection, forcing you to take your ATM card before giving you the cash, organizing the layout of the store to send you through the whole store to the back to pick up the milk.Training is major part of shaping the path—introduces the change, builds habits, and can often rally the herd. And training is something both TCs and CMs can get their heads around.
  • TCs are good at identifying patterns and gaps and intuiting process. So perhaps Shaping the Path is where TCs feel most comfortable and traditionally are more likely to build success and recognition.Mark Baker’s recent guest post on TechWhirl makes some interesting points about traditional tech comm that bear on the idea of tweaking the environment in ways that the TC community generally seems reluctant to do:“This then is the tech comm paradox: documentation is a common source of consumer unhappiness and complaints, and yet there is no market pressure on products with bad docs, and therefore doc quality does not improve, and companies have little incentive to pay the cost to improve it.Learn to live with it:Learn to count the money:Pick your battles: Change the visibility: Change the target:Change the value proposition:Be disruptive: Maybe we need to stop trying to make documentation better and start trying to make technical communication different.At some level these are all ways to shape the Path.
  • As the change initiative takes place, you have to keep eyes open and heads up. Definitely something CM and TC have in common.Meetings can be the real doomsday machine. Ask yourself will the meeting help:Develop the Plan?Applythe Plan?Add Value?Are there players in the initiative who could be described as terrorists? Ready to destroy change for reasons you may or may not know?Is the destination clear to the Rider? Has the Elephant found the feeling? Have you shaped the path enough? Examples of terrorists and train wrecks:The manager from another department who sabotages the meeting with “well-meaning questions” or concernsThe ladder climber who volunteers to take something on, but plans to fail with “legitimate” excuses (well I never received that email, or I didn’t have a chance to review the document, etc.)The failure to observe the implications of a new technology on other parts of existing operations (the business rules in the new General Ledger system don’t map properly when importing legacy data, so the ledger never balances, the monthly close doesn’t happen on time, and the regulators and investors start asking questions)The Youtube video showing the disgruntled ex-employee be escorted forcibly from the building goes viralOther….
  • President Muffley, General Turgidson, Dr. Strangelove, and the Russian President— clearly demonstrate a lack of alignment and support: resulting in the failure to recall the B-52Executives need to align their strategy and agenda—their perspective is almost always “will it increase revenue or reduce costs?” If they don’t buy in, neither will anyone else. Provide the bright spots and point to the destination, and keep them bought in by helping them feel something. The Manager perspective is quite different—”will it help me achieve my department or personal agenda?” (I want to keep the headcount or the responsibility for the process, or the benefits of that budget line item for travel and entertainment). That often means focusing on scripting the critical moves, shrinking the change, and/ or growing your peopleTie the three together—you will have the training (shape the path), and consensus that the change is doable (Direct the rider), the results will benefit everyone (motivate the elephant). What are the other essentials for success in change management? How do we avoid having our initiative become a part of the 90 percent?
  • Here’s our version of the survival pack. Some really top-notch resources that can lay the foundation for how you approach CM, help you network with other professionals, and build your skill sets.We’ve posted this on TechWhirl.com so you can use that QR code to access this resource list.
  • Change management is one of the most highly visible areas in today’s medium and large-sized organizations. Al and I have talked about Integrated Technical Communication as an approach to demonstrate TC value and integrate within the strategic, decision-making levels of the organization. And we know from experience that there are complementary, overlapping skills and functions that suggest change management and tech comm collaboration could improve the likelihood for successful change.This starts with building effective, winning business cases for change, but it’s only the start. To expand your sphere of influence, consider that you need to recognize the skills sets required for change management—which ones you have and which ones you lack. Be proactive, network with the change agents in your organization—whether they have an official CM title or not. And be ready to go out and develop the skills you don’t have—there are several ways to do that—courses/workshops, offering your assistance on initiatives that are getting underway and building up a good rapport with influential and successful change agents—inside and outside of your organization.][Close with “Some Sunny Day” and last few seconds of the movie]
  • Dr. Tech Comm - How I learned to Love Change Management

    1. 1. Dr. TechComm, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Change Management Connie Giordano & Al Martine TechWhirl.com
    2. 2. Connie Giordano Al Martine• TechWhirl Executive Editor • TechWhirl Bus Dev/Ops Director • Content Wiz • Strategy Wonk • SWU Den Mother • Sales Guy • Chief Cat Herder • Head of Janitorial Services• Previous Roles • Previous Roles • Change Management Analyst • Change Management • Information Designer Consultant • Business Analyst • Head of Fundraising • Technical Writer / Editor • Marketing Director • Communications Specialist • Event Manager • PR/Product Manager 3
    3. 3. • We have a Plan C – Tech Comm vs. Change Management – Why do Change Management? – Change Management Structure – Overlapping/Complimentary Skills“The whole point of the doomsday machine...is lost if you keep it a secret!” -Dr. Strangelove 4
    4. 4. • Facilitating transition• Reducing fear 6
    5. 5. • Facilitating change• Improving experience 7
    6. 6. Does Change Management = Tech Comm? 8
    7. 7. Technical Writer • Gather • Plan • Assess • Communicate • Organize • Implement Change Management Analyst
    8. 8. 90% Communication Emotion Logic Circumstance“its beginning to look like General Ripper exceeded his authority.” - Gen Buck Turgidson
    9. 9. • Implementing the business case: – Logic (Analytics) = Rider – Emotion = Elephant – Route = Path to the new world 11
    10. 10. Rational side looks for: • What’s working? • Navel Gazer / TBU • Clear goal/objectives • Follow the bright spots • Script the critical moves • Point to the destinationAmbiguity is the enemy. Any successful change requires a translation of ambiguous goalsinto concrete behaviors. -Chip & Dan Heath, Switch
    11. 11. Does this fit the TC skill set?
    12. 12. • Emotion wins the day • Hard to direct /skittish • Unstoppable once in motion • Find the feeling • Shrink the change • Grow your peopleMy boys will give you the best kind of start,1400 megatons worth, and you sure as hell wont stop them now . -Gen. Buck Turgidson
    13. 13. Is this easy?The Elephant has to believe that it’s capable of conquering the change -Chip and Dan Heath, Switch
    14. 14. Changing the situation creates changes to behavior • Tweak the environment • Build Habits • Rally the HerdNow, Im going to give you THREE SIMPLE rules… -General Jack D. Ripper
    15. 15. Is This the TC Sweet Spot?Tweaking the environment is about making the right behaviors a little bit easierand the wrong behaviors a little bit harder Chip & Dan Heath, Switch
    16. 16. Meetings: the real doomsday machine Train wrecks and terroristsWell, I, uh, dont think its quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir. -Gen. Buck Turgidson
    17. 17. • Top Down Executive Alignment• Executive Support• Effectively directing the Rider, motivating the Elephant and shaping the path • The hot line is always open• What else? • Someone has the Recall CodeBased on the findings of the report, my conclusion was that this idea was not a practical deterrentfor reasons which at this moment must be all too obvious. -Dr. Strangelove
    18. 18. • Resources – Heath, Chip and Heath, Dan. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. 2010, Broadway Books, New York – Heath, Chip and Heath, Dan. Switch Your Organization: A workbook www.switchthebook.com/resources – Kotter, John and Cohen, Dan. The Heart of Change. 2002 Harvard Business Review Press, Boston – Kotter, John and Cohen, Dan. The Heart of Change Field Guide. 2005 Harvard Business Review Press, Boston – Haidt, Jonathan, The Happiness Hypothesis. 2006. Basic Books, New York – Thaler, Richard, and Sunstein, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, 2008. Yale University Press, Princeton – Kelman, Steve. Unleashing Change. 2005 Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC • LinkedIn Groups – Change Consulting & Change Management – Change Management Network – Innovative Leadership & Change Management Expert Innovators...Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff. -Maj. T.J. “King” Kong
    19. 19. • Recognize existing CM skill sets • Network with change agents • Develop needed CM skill sets• Build winning business cases• Implement by: – Directing the Rider – Motivating the Elephant – Shaping the Path