Change management needs to become more agile to communicate the iterative changes that agile development and DevOps bring to enterprise users. Most industry-accepted definitions of change management revolve around its systematic approach for driving business and technology change at both the organization and employee level.
While agile development and DevOps are rewriting the definitions of software development and operations, too often change management initiatives are trying to drive change using Portable Document Format (PDF) newsletters emailed as attachments.
Change management should look no further than tech media sites to learn how to become more agile and to better communicate technology and business changes to the enterprise.
Here are seven approaches change management can learn from tech media sites:
1. Think about change management as a story
When communicating about change management to a user community it’s key to tell a story about what’s happening.
Outside of the requirements of a given compliance program, you need to separate yourself from much of the change management hoopla. Instead, remember that you’re telling a story to your end user community. That story might include:
- The current state of technology, outlining the issues that end users are facing
- Benefits of the technology change focusing on how it will make employee lives easier
- Call to action on what the end users need to do to take advantage of the change
- Feedback mechanism (comments function or email link)
- Links to internal resources like help desk content and download sites
Thinking of change management as a story means replacing memos, release notes, and email announcements that users rarely read with a story format to engage readers online.
2. Make articles and blog posts the new user guide
Once you start thinking of change management as a story, then it’s easy to see that articles and blog posts are the new user guide.
When I got my start as a technical writer, clients wanted documentation sets that could fill a bookshelf. Fast forward to today and the web dominates technical information needs whether it’s a web-based help system or a collaboration platform like a wiki.
Move your change management communications online whether to a wiki or your collaboration platform of choice. Just like a tech media site, work to make anything you publish about your change management activities accessible and searchable to the widest possible internal audience.
While collaboration platform features vary, here are some tricks:
- Tag your posts.
- Let users set up email alerts when a post or article changes.
- Let users favorite posts and other change management content like their favorite content on their favorite social media site.
- Make sure the platform search engine is working optimally.
When your users Google a technical problem online, their search returns will most likely bring back articles published on tech media sites and in knowledge bases. Offer your users the same information products they find online.
3. Foster and encourage an online community around change management
Online tech media sites work to establish robust online communities, and it’s an important lesson for change management initiatives to learn as well. You can replicate the online community that tech media sites aspire to build internally by using discussion forums on your collaboration platform.
There’s a range of private social networking platforms that can serve as an online community platform to support your change management activities.
The trick to an online community is to make it active. A change management team member needs to be available to the community to answer questions, post links to other resources, and serve as a conduit for information from the online community to get back to the appropriate stakeholders.
Building an online community around change management means decreasing email dependency. This enables the change management team and user community to have a direct and transparent channel to one another.
4. Use news feeds for communications
The outreach component of change management needs to use the enterprise social and collaboration technologies that are available to them and to think beyond the PDF newsletter or document.
Instead, an internal news feed that publishes catchy headlines about the latest internal changes encourages users to click on a link to read more. An online article about the change, with a tip on how to become more productive using the upcoming new technology, offers real value and addresses real needs.
Readers can follow news feeds in their browser or on a mobile device. There are also options to set alerts. Both options mean less chance for change management messages going glub-glub at the bottom of a user’s inbox.
5. Remember thought leadership as part of the change management equation
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that thought leadership needs to factor as an output for your change management activities.
The Thought Leadership Lab defines thought leaders as the informed-opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. These leaders are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success.
It’s easy to complain that your employer is behind the technology curve. It’s too easy sometimes.
When you publish interviews and hold online meetings or chats with the innovators behind the internal changes, you can help add a new dimension to how a business user understands and then adopts the technology changes. End users can see smart people are driving changes in the best interests of the organization and the user community.
6. Put your audience before your change management team
The communications and outreach elements of a change management activity do no good if the team can’t communicate beyond their group. It’s like a tech media site that doesn’t understand its readership. Good tech media sites interact with their audience face-to-face (when permissible). Give your deployment teams the room to build relationships with the end users they’re serving. Pay close attention to feedback that comes from post mortems and vocal internal customers—pay especially close attention to feedback that doesn’t fit what you wanted to hear, and then adjust accordingly.
7. Get mobile friendly
Tech media sites have been reaching their readers through mobile apps for years. The fact that comScore’s March 2015 report shows that 187.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in March 2015 means your change management initiative has to be able to reach mobile users with mobile-friendly content.
If you follow some of the earlier tips about newsfeeds and online community, then your user community probably has mobile access to your enterprise’s cloud software and platforms already. If not, then the change management team may want to champion such mobile access based on user feedback.
Change Change Management for Better Outreach
Change management needs to change to keep pace with agile development and DevOps. When researching this post, the references I came across about agile change management were either aging or a disappointment for other reasons. It tells me that no such movements ever caught on in the market.
However, the advent of agile development and DevOps means change management needs to seek new examples to follow. Tech media sites offer just such an example as the sites have had to adapt to changing technologies and reader needs to best serve and grow their communities.