Leadership Insights podcast | episode 3

Change management and process automation adoption

Leadership Insights podcast
Episode 3

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Episode summary

In this episode of Leadership Insights, Nintex CEO Eric Johnson is joined by Kathie Topel, a director at Nintex Premiar Partner, Protiviti. The two discuss best practices to help accelerate the adoption of process automation solutions – even if the project involves those who are the most resistant to change.

Kathie Topel nintex leadership insights podcast episode 3
Eric Johnson
Nintex CEO
Kathie Topel
Director, Protiviti

 

Transcript:

ERIC:

00:00 | Hi, everyone, welcome to the leadership insights podcast by Nintex. I’m Eric Johnson, CEO of Nintex. We are a process management and automation provider with more than 10,000 customers and 850 team members around the globe.

00:20 | Leadership I­nsights came about when we recognize the need for more thought leadership expertise around automation investments. Before becoming the chief executive officer, I was previously serving as a chief financial officer and witnessed the headaches that many leaders suffered after investing in automation software, or any technology that didn’t provide profitable, significant returns for the business. I want to help change this pattern by offering more insight for leadership professionals, or anyone who is making large technology investments.

00:58 | In each podcast, I will combine experiences from my leadership career, along with the knowledge of my peers, who have been proven leaders in their space. At Nintex, we talk about this idea of a culture of continuous improvement, with a goal of empowering all working professionals to improve processes with automation. Another related idea that runs parallel to this is change management. How do we get everyone on board when we improve processes?

1:30 | Today, I have Kathie Topel from Nintex premier partner Protiviti – one of our leading partners. Kathie is a business strategist and visionary leader. She is an expert in business transformation, utilizing proven models to foster alignment, collaboration, innovation and product delivery throughout the entire organization. She has led countless seminars, executive workshops, that have fundamentally changed the way teams and organizations operate. While our focus is change management today. Before we get started, let’s allow Kathie to introduce herself.

KATHIE:

2:09 | Thanks so much, Eric, for inviting me to speak with you today. You covered a number of things already about my background. But just to add a bit more on my current role. I’m the director of Protiviti’s organizational transformation practice. Our organizational transformation team really partners with clients, and provides approaches to align, adopt, and execute those dynamics strategies to really establish a culture that’s accepting of change.

2:40 | And my passion is truly to put people at the heart of business success.

ERIC:

2:46 | Thank you, Kathie, we’re really excited to share your expertise around change management today. Let’s get started. What’s the first step in a good change management process? Is it identifying the change, or identifying how it will be managed?

KATHIE:

3: 01 | The first step really is to identify and align the change to the overall strategy and the vision of the company. This will really will give us much more credibility to why the change needs to take place, and the value that all the efforts that go into the change will make to achieving the vision companies frequently began with a solution in mind, and then take the impact to the people as afterwards after the fact. It really needs to start on day one it has to.

3:33 | Statistics from Gartner actually show that 15 to 20% of the budget for an implementation should be allocated to support the people change side. And this investment can be worth 50% of the value to avoid things like lack of adoption, budget overruns, and decrease in productivity, and many more things also.

ERIC:

3:55 | what’s a good number of champions or stakeholders to govern a changing process?

KATHIE:

4:00 | It’s great that you asked that I get asked that question a lot. It really has to do with the size and magnitude of the change. The key is to get the right mix of individuals all working together to adequately represent each level impacted by the change. Some things that we suggest is using a change management team approach, which is made up of multiple areas that include a change lead, a change agent for each of the work streams, change champion teams (which really needs to be a cross section of the departments being impacted). This does vary on size of the impact but usually on average, we say around seven to 15 people – unless it is extremely large change Communications and also training as part of the team, this team really meets weekly to ensure the complete awareness of what’s upcoming, and really to share feedback on what has taken place. They are the true channel to the organization for ensuring that adoption is successful by getting everyone from the top line to the frontline on board. And actually living the change.

ERIC:

5:13 | Kathie, that’s really, really helpful, what tools and techniques to use to identify the steps affected by the change.

KATHIE:

5:20| The key tool is identifying the stakeholder map to understand which areas will be impacted. The stakeholder map includes identifying the critical stakeholders, those are the ones leading and really, truly responsible for the change. And then identifying who are your key influencers – those that are going to lead the areas that will be impacted. And then of course, there’s the impacted stakeholders – those are the ones whose daily responsibilities will be altered in some way due to the change. So understanding those different levels, who makes up those levels, and taking the time to do that upfront, can help you to understand the level and channels that you need in order to be most effective with a change going forward.

ERIC:

6:06 | Kathie, that makes a ton of sense, you know, really identifying the differences in those roles and how things can impact – that front end planning. It makes a ton of sense. So what happens when a piece of the process is not accounted for?

KATHIE:

6:20 | That’s a great example of why the change management team is so important: unexpected items almost always come up. And you need to be ready to handle them as soon as possible. The rigor of the change management team working closely together is significant. For this reason, the team members are continuously collaborating as a group to represent all stakeholders. They work to get feedback, and they observe what is happening from multiple angles. Their feedback and ability to react is vital to ensure when things get missed, they find out about them early and can jump into action to keep the stakeholders on track. One of the key phrases we always say when we start to change is to expect the unexpected.

ERIC:

7:04 | You know, Kathie, that’s a great point is you plan. And then things change. And you’ve got to be nimble and be able to react to that. So Kathie, what  are good strategies to communicate change across an organization.

KATHIE:

7:16 | The key is to have a collaboration and communication roadmap in the very beginning. Identifying upfront what channels you’ll use for what message and what stakeholders you’ll need to communicate with which you can use the previous stakeholder map that you put together to help out with that. The level of communication that needs to go on to ensure that adoption occurs is much greater than anyone ever expects. I tell everyone that you have to communicate the same messages in different ways 20 to 30 times over again.

7:48 | The key channels to set up when you get started are first and foremost, the change management team, as we stated before, second, the change champions to make sure that they’re fully functional, because they really become a strong channel to the frontline. Third, develop some type of town hall monthly meeting, some format in which leaders the leadership can participate to show that they are on board and how important this changes. Fourth is something like a portal where you can communicate out and receive feedback from the field very easily and fluently. And then really, it becomes a little more specific to the company in the situations for how they may have some uniqueness in the communication. But understanding and laying that roadmap out upfront really helps and making sure that you get the communication strongly across the entire organization.

ERIC:

8:44 | Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. We’ve certainly seen here that when we’ve made big changes, you know, having consistency, having a lot of thought having great leadership and executive involvement. You know, those monthly town halls and regular communications – huge difference makers. So  one of the questions I have for you, though, is how do you help those resistant to a changing process?

KATHIE:

9:06 | Very good question. Most resistance really does come down to the individual’s desire to change. It is frequently personal and related to a potential threat that they perceive. Something they have experienced in the past, potentially, or really a change in their responsibilities. All very unique to the individual or group of individuals. It’s best to work to eliminate the resistance before it ever happens. The stakeholder analysis that we talked about earlier, is key and making sure that you are understanding where your pockets of resistance might come from, and develop tactics to avoid those issues. The change management team takes this responsibility to continuously watch for resistance, doing pulse check posting events, and constantly focusing on the adoption level. That’s really key to success.

ERIC:

10:00 | So speaking of challenges, can you explain to our listeners what an issue resolution mechanism is and how it can help with change management?

KATHIE:

10: 06 | Sure. An issue resolution mechanism and is how do you prepare to react to things that come up that you do not know are going to happen. At the time of change, people feel very vulnerable. So something that would normally be very small in nature can become a large issue during this time. Having a plan in place on how challenges will be triage and responded to quickly and with what we call White Glove treatment is so important. You want to ensure that a flame is not ignited when it does not need to be. People want to know that you have planned for the unexpected. And you will have them covered throughout the entire change process for whatever they incur. It builds confidence and the end state of the change.

ERIC:

10:50 | That is spot on plan for the unexpected and create confidence preparation creates confidence totally agree with that. When is a good time to survey people impacted by the changing process, before, during or after or the whole time?

KATHIE:

11: 05 | Keeping a pulse on the organization during the change is very important throughout the entire process. The key is what survey tool do you use? There’s the traditional survey with questions and responses that get used at strategic points in the change process. Usually at the beginning, middle and end. The other pulse survey methods will give you the ongoing sentiment of what’s really happening. Things such as an event where quick questions as they asked for feedback. Or at a town hall setting where questions are asked. Or during a team building activity where level of participation is key. Or maybe even a champion coffee talks with individuals and getting a sense of the change that’s really occurring on a one on one basis. The success of this change is to always have feedback coming in through multiple channels. And at all times.

ERIC:

12: 00 | That is really really good feedback, the multiple channels that continuous evaluation and feedback it makes a ton of difference. You know, one of the things I think we may actually see in our businesses is a common type of changes that organizations are running these large-scale transformation projects. And your big part of these process transformations is the area of automation. So how do you articulate that automation is helping the people involved, not replacing them?

KATHIE:

12:23 | That’s one of my favorite topics. And when leaders want automation, and then they tell individuals that they will have more time to do more meaningful work. This might sound great from a leader perspective, but it can have a negative impact on individuals when their jobs are at stake for change.

12:42 | The first step is to really paint a picture for everyone about where the company or department needs to go. Identify what roles you need help with to get to the future and then explain how the automation will allow them to take part in that future. This gives them a vision of what comes next instead of focusing on the negative part of the change that automation might bring. They will be much more willing and invested in embracing the automation. Everyone needs to understand that what seems great for the company is not always proceed the same for individuals. And starting at the beginning with planning for the people change impact will yield tremendous results way beyond what is expected.

ERIC:

13:28 | Kathie, thank you so much for sharing your expertise today. I know that you have a just a real wealth of great experiences. Your advice today  and perspectives were specific. They’re practical. And I know personally I’ve seen I’ve seen these strategies work out there in the real world together. So thank you so much for joining the leadership insights series today.

KATHIE:

13:50 | Thank you for asking me, Eric. I appreciate it. Take care.