(Part 3 of a 4-part series discussing “Change and the Cost of Not Changing”)
Most heat treaters you talk to today are continually looking at ways to effectively apply new innovations into their existing business model. Your business model determines the way your business earns money. A change in the business model can bring additional measurable income, sometimes requiring less work and lower overhead costs. Technologies and markets change continually, opening up new growth opportunities; and, they may require a shift in your thinking.
If you haven’t done this recently, you need to revisit your current model. List all the ways your business generates revenue, so as you engage in change management activities, these will be at the forefront of your mind, and will probably sway some of your decisions. You can even consider new models to adopt, that may ultimately become part of a refined business model.
A change in your business can be relatively minor, or could mean a radical change in direction. But, any changes to an existing business model should show that they will produce more revenue. Separating each activity in your business into a profit center can show you which activities are most profitable. The pay-off can be new insights into your activities that help you focus on necessary changes or innovations.
Next Steps in Managing Change
- Discuss innovative ways to transform your business model with key staff and advisers.
- Look for opportunities to earn more money for less work and lower costs, by increasing employee efficiency through technology and quality initiatives, while reducing redundancy in day-to-day activities.
- Always check that any new business models are in line with your business vision.
- Make sure any new business model is substantial (creates more revenue than the former way of doing business) and sustainable (creates more long-term revenue than the previous model).
Manage the “Innovation Assassins”. It might be easy for some in your organization to see the benefits of technology changes, but others likely won’t (or don’t want to). According to an article in Harvard Business Review, “An innovation needs a champion to nurture it, and any new technology capable of inspiring strong advocacy will also provoke opposition.”
A good way to manage this change is by addressing their fears.
- Always point to the personal benefit of new technology. If people can’t see how change is positive for them, they’ll be more likely to push back.
- Choose technology wisely. While functionality is critical, user-friendliness may be more important in some cases.
- Make it routine. What’s the best way to learn a new technology? Most people would say complete immersion works best. The quickest way to learn something new is to make it part of the everyday routine.
A top-down approach, with executive alignment and sponsorship are vital!
What It Takes to Embed New Technology into an Employee’s Workflow
- Focus on the purpose. Define the personal benefits of change, but also make sure people understand the business benefits.
- Leverage key people. Active and visible executive sponsors should help the company understand the benefits of the change and the cost of not changing. Middle managers must lead by example and make themselves available to answer questions.
- Start with ‘use cases’ that maximize adoption. Try not to push users through too much change too quickly. It would be like trying to get a drink out of a fire hose. Find “lightweight” ways to get people to incorporate the technology into their day-to-day use. Start small, using the KISS principle, in a tiered implementation approach. If you start with things that are too sophisticated, that have too much of a change impact; it really has a negative effect on adoption.
- Make sure it’s simple to get help. If you go to get help and that experience is poor, you’re less likely to follow through with the rest of the change.
- Translate knowledge into action. Sure, it’s helpful to know what a product can do, but more important is understanding what you can do with a product in the context of your roles and responsibilities. Don’t just teach people about the features and functions. Teach them how they can apply those features and functions to improve their workflow.
- Keep up the momentum. If adoption is high, there’s a tendency by stakeholders to view the rollout as a success. However, if you don’t sustain, maintain, and reinforce the change after the initial push, you run the risk of having people revert back to their old ways. Create communication checkpoints throughout the rollout, highlight positive behavior on an ongoing basis, and seek to embed the technology deeper into your employees’ workflows.
- Communicate what, when, and why. There is a balance between too little and too much information. Remember, change is a chore for many. People need to be told exactly what’s happening, when it’s happening, and most importantly, why it’s happening.
Before you make any decision to innovate your current business processes, leadership and key staff must collectively agree on the success criteria for this new technology. 60 days following the deployment, consolidate the criteria into a few critical questions and share with all staff that are utilizing this new technology. Evaluate the results as part of the change management process and make any potential tweaks and/or updates to the use of the new technology. Then, upon the 90-day mark, release a simple one question form to the new technology users: Does <X technology> resolve <Y business issue>?
Next Article: Part 4: Improving the Customer Experience to Drive Revenue and Save Costs