The problem with change, regardless of whether it’s a business transformation, digital transformation, or technology implementation – is that in your rush to the finish line you have to brace yourself for chaos and disruption, so that you can return to business-as-usual as quickly as possible. 

But in the race to adopt your shiny new piece of tech, you can lose sight of what really matters – your people. 

Why OCM? (And what is it anyway?)

We’re sure you’ve heard the proverb: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. 

OCM (Organisational Change Management) is the magic carrot that not only gets the people in your organisation to approach the ‘water’ willingly, but 100% sells them on the idea and long-term value of rehydration.  

In a nutshell, OCM is about your people, not your technology. It’s the process of bringing your team along on your journey of business transformation (i.e., adopting game-changing technology like CRM) in a way that enables them to understand and embrace change, and to work in new ways – willingly and happily!  

When considering OCM, it’s important to realise that change is not a final destination. Change initiatives aren’t final; they’re often tied to a tech implementation which does have a completion date, but transformational change doesn’t have an end date – and ideally shouldn’t. 

OCM, the good stuff 

The most important reason to take OCM seriously though, is that it works.  

Let’s look to Prosci, a globally acclaimed leader in change management. According to their ‘An Introduction to Change Management’ paper, initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management. And they also reported that 79% of the executives and senior leaders they surveyed recognise the value of change management in their organisations.  

And if those stats aren’t already compelling enough, Prosci also reports that with OCM, organisations will benefit from being: 

  • 6x more likely to achieve project objectives 
  • 5x more likely to stay on or ahead of schedule 
  • 2x more likely to stay on or under budget 

All of which is pretty compelling. 

By comparison, what can a failure to manage change cost you? 

You’ve probably heard about the now infamous McKinsey and Company stat that’s been circulating since 2015; 70% of all transformation initiatives fail. But that’s a long time ago now and we’ve certainly experienced a lot of change since, so how are we doing today? 

Today, it’s now closer to about half of all change initiatives that fail, with only 34% being a clear success.  

And 16% of organisations don’t necessarily fail but aren’t successful either. In this instance, the initiative drags on, costing even more time and taking more resources to keep things on track. As a result, people grow impatient and will inevitably find workarounds – which basically defeats the purpose of improving technology.  

So, how does OCM get you change-ready?

The three main areas that affect user adoption effectiveness are learner readiness, design, and organisational alignment. The good news is that when all three areas of learning transfer are addressed, user adoption training effectiveness can be enhanced by as much as 186%.  

But what do you need to watch out for? What can go wrong when you don’t take a programmatic OCM approach to transformation? Let’s look to our water-phobic horses to illustrate the potential issues.  

1. Telling and selling a compelling story   
Announcing a change initiative without a compelling story is like dropping the news to your herd of horses that you’re expecting them to evolve into high-flying unicorns. Even if you are promising them a river of designer sparkling water at the end of the rainbow highway, a lack of transparency will make them feel blind-sided and resistant. And they will dig their heels in. But by establishing the shortcomings of the status quo, and the benefits of making change, you’ll find your horses far more willing and open to achieving unicorn status.  

2. Remembering that stakeholder buy-in is critical
Diving into a change initiative without first considering the impact on your stakeholders can be equally costly. Even the best-laid plans can be scuttled if those executing the plan simply say, ‘no - that’s stupid!’ Suddenly, your months of work bringing said plan to execution stage have been wasted. Let’s fast forward a decade, and you want your horses to change direction, will they neigh-say your idea and refuse to move, or even seek greener pastures?

3. Not being shortsighted when it comes to training and resources 
Embedding a change initiative without the adequate training and resources pre- and post-go-live is like sending your draft horses to a racetrack and expecting them to hit the ground running – and win. The culture shock is one thing, but people learn differently too, so having the time and resource to understand the different learning styles will help reduce the fear of the unknown. This improves your chances of the move being embraced and enjoyed by the whole stable – meaning more time spent doing the good things, and less risk of wasting time, money, emotion, energy! A good measure of success is to have 90% of your people adequately trained pre-go-live, but understand you’ll still have those who can’t learn a new language until they’ve set foot on foreign soil and are forced to order their groceries at the local supermarket. 

Change management goes beyond helping your people adopt a new set of behaviours in line with your change initiative. It’s about embracing preparing your people for imminent and ongoing changes, becoming comfortable with ambiguity, and seeing it as an opportunity for growth. 

Our 5 tips for a successful change initiative

  1. Start with a health check of where your people are now as well as a gap analysis of how far you’d need to bring them along their change journey  
  2. Don’t forget to appoint your champions of change! (Hint: they don’t have to come from the top, a bottom-up approach to change can be just as effective)  
  3. Take a Human-Centred Design (HCD) approach to put together a matrix for who and how often you will need to communicate and engage with your key stakeholders 
  4. Understand your change model and adjust your communication for each stage along the change journey for key stakeholder segments 
  5. Engage with an experienced OCM partner who understands that your people learn in diverse ways and at different paces. They will help you avoid unnecessary anxiety, increase the speed and rate of uptake and ensure your employees aren’t seeking alternative workarounds. 

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s a testimonial from a recent case study on how the AFL utilised our OCM practice to their advantage. 

"Fusion5’s OCM support and guidance throughout the project was invaluable. They ensured that our change management piece was well planned and thought through from the outset. And it gave me the support of an experienced change manager to complement my skills, learn from, bounce ideas off, and validate strategies with.”

AFL Change Manager
Great outcomes start with great conversations


Great outcomes start with great conversations

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