IS6602 IX: Implementing Interventions Taking Actions and Dealing with Resistance 1 Recap Your proposal to the client has been accepted They like your proposed strategy for radical change You are confident that the employees have the right skills and are willing to learn new techniques
Now you just have to make it happen! **I wish that life was so simple** 2 Intervention Activities Translating Plans into Actions Meeting a clients changing needs The role of theory in action Documenting a chaotic process Linking actions to theory Employee Resistance It always happens
Impacts and measures 3 Translating Plans into Actions This is the first hurdle to overcome A plan that meets a clients needs is not the same as a plan that can be acted upon So once you get the green light, you need to create a new plan, a working plan, to get the work done This plan will be detailed and technical It will have a time line and clear responsibilities
for individual consulting team members 4 Operational Plans You may find it useful to bring in Project Management tools and techniques like PERT and Gantt Charts You will need to identify a list of all the different actions to take, and indicate who does what You may need to go back to the client for details, but not too often 5
Operational Plans The first actions that you take may be communication actions Talk to the employees who will be doing the work, whose lives will be turned upside down If the employees are on your side, your life will be MUCH easier Try to ensure that the employees benefit because you do not want them to resist later Preparing the employees for change is the first part of change
6 Example - Nestle When Nestle implemented a new ERP in the late 1990s, they introduced the technology first without changing the processes This caused a lot of headaches, and high employee turnover Employees were very unhappy because they felt that they had not been consulted 7
Example - IKEA When IKEA implemented a new ERP system in the early 2000s, they assumed that the software would fit the work processes undertaken by employees around the world Unfortunately, that fit was not always there and some employees found that the software did not support their work at all. Naturally employees were unhappy and had to find create ways to get work done 8 The Speed of Change
How fast you intervene, and how many processes simultaneously, depends on how much time you have Ideally, you start slowly and build up A very quick change process has a high chance of failure Work on the processes first, not the technology Processes may need to be re-engineered before new technology can be introduced 9 A Phased Approach
Working bit by bit may be more sensible, even though systems and processes are often interlinked Look at the Work Systems Snapshot see if you can identify specific work processes that can be reorganised, so as to fit the new structure and new technology When the process is ready and the employees are trained, then the technology can come next 10 Clients Needs Always Change This is a sad fact of organisational life
If your consulting project is due to last two years, you should not expect that the agreed scope and requirements will survive intact Revisions will be needed It will be easier to modify the intervention if you are in close contact with the client Weekly meetings to review progress and also keep in touch with organisational realities Modifications may have cost implications 11 Changing Requirements So long as the basic aim of the project is to
continue, you are OK, but it may be that the client wants to abandon the project entirely or else make major changes This may violate any contact you have signed You need to look at the legal and contract issues very carefully 12 Interruptions Clients can also cancel meetings or actions at short notice For instance they have a major internal problem or
an important visitor is in town Consultants should cover their own interests. They are paying for your time, even if you are not doing anything If you have to cancel flights, hotels, etc. then the client must pay 13 Example This kind of interruption happened to me several times In Beijing, I was told an hour before a meeting
that it was cancelled. In Shanghai, I was given a weeks notice, but I still had to cancel bookings Perhaps interruptions are unavoidable, but consultants should be compensated for this 14 The Role of Theory in Action Action Research specifies that a theory should be used for both problem diagnosis and to underpin the actions that are taken The theory may usefully serve as a guide to the actions themselves
The theory may also guide you to collect certain kinds of data that you will need later to assess impacts 15 Theories and Clients Clients are seldom interested in theory: they want solutions But this does not mean theories are useless The practical aspects of theories need to be translated into a form that clients can understand Hopefully this is not just common sense but
actually adds something that the client did not know before 16 For Example 1 - TAM TAM (Technology Adoption Model) suggests that when people find a technology is easy to use and useful, then they are more likely to form the behavioural intention to use it That sounds very simple and common sense But it may be that employees do NOT find a technology to be easy to use OR useful, yet they still have no choice about using it! So part of the action may be to ensure that the technology imposed on employees by the CIO is both easy to use and useful
Ensuring this requires employee involvement in the technology selection, deployment and testing processes 17 Apart from Usefulness and Ease of Use What other factors may influence employees willingness to adopt and use a new technology? Knowing the answer may be very helpful for a consultant Alternatively, what constraints may limit the extent to which employees use a technology?
18 For Example 2 - TMT TMT (Transactive Memory Theory) is a theory about how we rely on other peoples memories for knowledge in order to get things done TMT suggests that the strength of our network is important i.e. WHO we know is just as important as WHAT we know When you know more people you can work more effectively So we might recommend an ACTION that encourages employees to develop better networks
That is not easy in China where guanxi dominates 19 TMT and China TMT suggests that it is enough to know who knows But in China it is not enough you also need guanxi with the person who knows Without guanxi, you have to contact the remote person through multiple intermediaries, which is rather inefficient Changing a guanxi system is hard, but we can find ways to encourage people to build more network connections
20 For Example 3 - PET PET (Punctuated Equilibrium Theory) explains that in a stable situation (organisation, work team, etc.) it is possible to stimulate radical change that will have a dramatic effect on performance The radical change needs to be an intervention that challenges the existing structures, proposing a radically better way of working Such a change also requires a change agent, a person who intervenes with those actions The consultant can be one example of such a change agent
21 PET and China I have used PET on several occasions when I do AR in organisations PET can be risky because if the intervention fails then the situation may get worse, not better PET requires explicit management approval I see myself as the change agent, but I still have to get the employees to agree 22
Context and Proof of Concept The client firm operates in a particular context Culture, values, environment, law, etc. You will have ideas about a solution to meet their needs, but translating that idea from your head to practice requires some concrete evidence to demonstrate that it can work This can be done on a small scale first this is what we mean by proof of concept (PoC) The PoC will also help you to build trust with the client Evaluation of the PoC can lead to some fine tuning BEFORE you move to a larger scale of implementation
23 Achieving Proof of Concept It is important to choose a context where you have a high chance of success This can be where employees really want to be the guinea pigs, the first to try out the new work practice and the new technology If your proof test fails, it is very hard to continue elsewhere in the organisation Indeed, the whole situation in the company may become toxic!
24 Employee Resistance Employee resistance is an unfortunate fact of consulting life No matter how much we work with employees nor how much they agree that they like a new system, this is NEVER a guarantee that they will actually use it Employees may not want to tell their real feelings to your face, but they will demonstrate their feelings in their actions 25
Employee Resistance A common reason for resistance is inertia People resist change It is easier not to change ones style of work An innovation must be dramatically better for people to adopt it So yes, perhaps your new technology is better (or better for management) but it does not really make the employees life easier, so they resist 26
For Example In a PR firm in Beijing, I was the change agent (PET) intervening by implementing a new KM system with a pilot in one team I had strong support from the CEO I seemed to have support from the team leader she would not contradict her boss But after we implemented, hardly anyone actually used it! 27 Post-Implementation Interview I went back to the team leader and this is what
she said: I am not an IT expert. I am an employee who makes use of IT when it is useful. But I dont see why I should ask my colleagues to use a new IT that does not make our lives much easier or better. Incremental improvements are inadequate justification for change. Your new system makes my work more difficult, not more easy. So I wont use it. 28 Retrospectively I would reflect that the team where we tried
out the proof of concept was not a good choice It was selected by the CEO because, as he said they have lots of problems! Well, such a difficult team may be a high risk team for a proof of concept initiative I asked the CEO to choose an easier, more enthusiastic team but he refused. In the end, perhaps the failure was not so surprising 29 Dealing with Resistance The best way is not to let it develop at all
This requires very close working with employees Given the tendency to resist at the very last minute (when it seems too late to make changes), you need to maintain very close contact with the employees at all times You may want to involve them in throughout the AR cycle, from diagnosis, through planning, intervention and testing. 30 Evaluation The last two stages of the AR cycle are evaluation and learning
First, we need to compare the before intervention and after intervention states Can we see any demonstrated improvements? Can we measure them? How do the employees feel? Second, we have to assess what we learned through the whole consulting process 31 Impacts Ideally the specific problem that was targeted has been addressed
But quite often it may be only partly addressed, or not at all Perhaps the intervention failed or the employees resisted In this case, it may be necessary to make a 2nd attempt at an intervention More diagnosis, planning, action 32 Reports and Lessons Learned The consultant usually has a duty to provide the client with a report at the end of the project This may summarise what was done, what was
successful, what still needs to be done The consultant should also prepare a report for internal use so as to inform future consulting projects This can be more honest about the events! It may also include reports on individual team members 33
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