Change Simulation Experience “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change. ” – Charles Darwin Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking theory of evolution was certainly not restricted to species in the wild. Adapting to change in any corporate environment is fundamental to the success of any organization and its employees. Achieving this success depends on a key ingredient – appropriate application of change management that focuses on increasing levels of commitment to change and decreasing levels of resistance.
Our group perceived the ‘Global Tech Change Simulation’ to be reflective of real life organizational change as it recreated a business scenario that needed to follow a multi-step process in a timely and sequential manner in order to have a successful outcome. There are challenging barriers to change which include acceptance, adaption and resistance, and each obstacle requires the use of change leadership and best practices to guide an organization through such a transition. Our Approach: What Worked
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Our group was aware of how essential it was to follow the seven-step Experience Change Model and categorized each tactic according to our analysis of where it belonged within the model – see Appendix A. We started our simulation with balanced participation through stakeholder mapping to ensure that key stakeholders in all departments understood the need for change. Stakeholder mapping allowed us to identify change agents who helped build an interdepartmental coalition that had enough power and influence to successfully lead change efforts.
It also branded helpers, bystanders and resisters, which meant we could classify targeted communication tactics for each group. Before creating a vision and strategy, we set up interdepartmental meetings that included all department heads. This integration of all business units enabled us to obtain input from various business perspectives, creating common short-term and long-term goals. This important maneuver built a coalition that united the organization and resulted in a tightly knit team with a shared vision.
Furthermore, we achieved substantial buy-in by re-communicating the new vision and strategy at every stage of the alignment and execution process. This tactic reinforced the importance of change and clarified any issues regarding comprehension of the process; both of which are required before change can successfully occur. Our Approach: What Didn’t Work The simulation, while very insightful and a great learning experience, posed some inherent challenges.
Our group was disciplined and organized from the onset and set forth a strategy to prioritize all the available tactics in the best sequence that we saw fit. We spent a substantial amount of time analyzing and discussing correct placement for each tactic; however, when it came time to actually inputting decisions, we second-guessed our initial assessments. This led to indecisiveness borne by a lack of confidence in our original analysis.
Moreover, we took a very myopic approach to the game, which was time-consuming and did not consider the lost opportunity costs of pricier tactics. We thought we could obtain cost efficiencies by implementing many low-priced tactics that would produce better value for the money spent, rather than inputting costly tactics that would greatly reduce our budget and may not yield as many buy-in points. Ultimately, our thrifty mindset did not benefit us in the long-run when we were under time pressure to make decisions and finances did not even end up factoring into our final decisions.
Perhaps our largest error and biggest learning opportunity came when we starting implementing tactics unrelated to the behavioural change strategy. As time ran out and we felt pressured to input decisions, we deviated from our original plan in a desperate attempt to earn points, which had dire consequences as we lost buy-in from the stakeholders at the crucial eleventh hour. Addressing secondary issues, such as improving quality assurance, distracted the stakeholders from the key issues and did not assist with the overall change effort. Next Time
If given the opportunity to re-do the simulation, our top priorities would be to manage the allotted time more efficiently in order to improve decision quality, provide resolution certitude and ensure that each team member is adequately informed and prepared prior to meeting. During the simulation, we were given a finite timeline in which to analyze and input decisions; however, we failed to create a sense of urgency within our group, which encumbered the decision-making process and consequently, led to rushed decisions as time ran out.
A team member should have been appointed as a designated timekeeper for time monitoring purposes. Additionally, we could have been more resourceful and utilized the change tools provided by Experience Point to accelerate analysis and validate decisions. In particular, we could have expedited the stakeholder mapping process by performing a ‘Forcefield Analysis’ to quickly identify driving and restraining forces at play. Completing a ‘Change Tactic Template’ for each of our decisions would have helped with scenario analysis in order to determine proper sequencing that would yield the most beneficial outcomes.
Also, we would have made all decisions by consensus in order to diminish dissent amongst the group. Although debate was encouraged among team members, some decisions were inputted by a majority rule due to time constraints, which is an ostensible trade-off to deeper analysis of alternative viewpoints. Team Dynamic Collectively, we realized the importance of establishing a unified approach to the simulation, which allowed us to work in a collaborative environment with minimal friction since most ideas were harmonized into a common strategy.
Categorizing all the available tactics into the seven steps outlined in the Experience Change Model helped us organize our thoughts and gave us a systematic, rational way to approach the decision-making process. We also separated our team into three functions: two researchers, two verifiers, and one inputter. This delegation of specific roles and responsibilities ensured that all members were engaged and that workload was distributed evenly. Although each member had varying thoughts on how tactics should be categorized and sequenced, everybody was respectful of differing opinions and no ideas were instantly discredited.
Despite not always agreeing on the appropriate tactic, we resisted in-fighting which would have further diminished the likelihood of positive outcomes. Overall, our team maintained an encouraging, upbeat attitude while making unsure decisions in the face of insurmountable time pressure, which is a testament to the supportive synergy that was created within our group. Real Life Application Similarities In both the simulation and real-life, it is critical to employ agents to drive change. This could take the form of a core change team or a change agent.
Without sufficient buy-in from employees, it will be difficult for the change agent to gain traction. However, one must recognize that it is impossible to please every employee. And in some cases, it may be necessary to restructure or let an employee go during the transition process. Timing plays a key role throughout the change management process. Change agents must recognize that tactics can have a positive or negative effect based solely on the timing or sequence of their implementation. For example, celebrating success before demonstrating progress lacks authenticity, and will not be received well by employees.
Poor timing can hinder change, waste time and consume financial resources. By reducing hostility between groups and increasing buy-in, productivity may increase, thus improving the likelihood of change. Differences Although there are similarities between the simulation and real-life, there are also a number of key differences. In the simulation, employees have a “buy-in meter” which indicates their level of understanding and acceptance. In real-life, assessing the level of employee buy-in is much more challenging. Other aspects of the simulation were also unrealistically precise.
The timelines and prices for tactics were absolute with no uncertainty or risk in regard to the time or cost of a tactic. Real businesses may find that tactics take more time or money to implement than they had originally planned. In the simulation, we were given $500,000 and 78 weeks to diagnose, plan, and implement the change. This investment in finances and time may not be realistic or feasible for organizations, further adding to its challenges with minimal resources available to implement change. Unlike in the simulation, change tactics may not work as intended, even if they are implemented correctly and at the right time.
Understanding the culture and needs of the particular business or industry are critical to achieving successful change. While the simulation was precise and provided detailed information, it also had some shortcomings compared to a real business. In the simulation, tactics must be implemented sequentially. A real business could implement complementary tactics simultaneously to save time. Receiving employee feedback was another limitation of the simulation. In a real-life situation, employees could be probed on their responses to gather more information.