Successfully Communicating Transformation

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56%* of change projects fail due to ineffective communications. Hardly a surprising statistic when most people know that effective communication is crucial when trying to achieve anything, be it personal or professional . However, with 84% of digital transformation projects failing, many organizations are still failing to effectively and consistently communicate change- an absolutely critical component in ensuring success. This is especially true when when it comes to explaining the business benefits of strategic initiatives to stakeholders at all levels of the project. Organizations cannot execute strategic initiatives unless they can effectively communicate their strategic alignment and business benefits.

McKinsey & Company’s The Inconvenient Truth About Change Management, states that 70% of organizational change fails as a result of employee attitudes and management behavior. The good news is that this can easily be addressed. The solution lies in the ability to capture the hearts and minds and engage all stakeholders that are involved or are impacted by the transformation journey . If you want to be successful, you have to effectively communicate the change to all levels of the organization. You need to address the “why” “what” and “how” of the transformation.  People need to be aware of the change going on, what it means for them, what the business benefits are of implementing the change and the risks assosciated with not transforming. The best way to do this is to use highly engaging communication tools to tell a powerful story. This will allow people to be taken on the transformation journey.

Here are some tips we have learned about implementing successful communications programs in IT transformation programs:

Develop a thorough understanding of the nature of the change taking place.

What are the organizations mission, vision and goals for the transformation? what desired “to be” state are you trying to achieve?

Engage Senior Leadership/ stakeholders

Having the necessary support from the top down can help to communicate the importance and value of the initiative

Create a strong communications plan/ strategy

This should cover all stages of the transformation program including pre project/ awareness stages all the way through to execution and beyond to ensure momentum is maintained. Ensure that you establish consistent communications throughout and a regular cadence of messages. Identify your target audiences and the correct channels to communicate through. Bear in mind that 73% of people undergoing organizational transformation prefer face to face communication first and foremost

Tailor communications to different stakeholder groups

People need to firstly understand the need for the change in the first place. Ensure you address the “why is the change happening?” and “what is the risk of not changing?” and most importantly the “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM). Senior Leaders often forget that making a change is a personal choice- you need to make sure that the employee cares about the transformation and recognises its value in order for them to support it. Understand that different stakeholders use language differently, it’s important to communicate to each of these groups with the right message, at the right time.

Tell a story of your transformation through communications

Make them engaging and visual and provide it in a “bitesize” format that people can easily refer to and understand. Use different online and offline communication channels and make communications highly visual and engaging. G2G3 use tools such as animations, videos, interactive infographics and more to achieve this.

Communicate consistently

Don’t just communicate at the start of the transformation project, ensure your communications are consistent and regular throughout at all stages of the transformation initiative.  Not only this, continue to communicate even beyond “go live”. Doing this will allow people to see the real value of the transformation and the part they have played in driving the success of it. Also, use this as an opportunity to gather feedback. What messages resonated? which channels worked? what can we learn from this for the next time?

Fail to communicate, fail to change. It’s as simple as that!

Sources 
*PMI Pulse Communications: The high cost of low performance- The essential Role of Communications, 2013)
**McKinsey & Co. The Inconvenient TruthAbout Change Management 
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