Importance of Success Stories in Building Agility
Written by Tim Creasey
In brief: Proofs of success and signature wins are critical catalysts for building an organizational change management capability. Learn why you should and how you can leverage success stories to advance your Enterprise Change Management effort.
Research findings on proof of success
Prosci's 11th edition of Best Practices in Change Management, with data from participants around the world, includes a significant section on building organizational change management capabilities. The concept of success stories is prevalent; it is mentioned as an activity with the biggest impact and a key contributor to successful deployment efforts. A case study or success story creates visibility, credibility and clarity around the value and application of change management.
Excerpt: Activities with the biggest impact
#2) Demonstrated success: Showing the impact of effective change management through application on real projects and documenting the results had an impact on the deployment effort. Proof of success improved the reputation, credibility and visibility of change management. Example projects where change management was applied were used as references and often resulted in additional advocates outside of the core change management team.
Excerpt: Top contributors to successful deployments
#2) Proof of success: Many participants highlighted the impact of showing the value of change management on deployment success. Documenting and sharing proven successes on key projects, measuring the impact on project results and clearly calling out the impacts of applying change management in specific instances all contributed to successful deployments.
In March of 2013, Prosci interviewed five leading organizations that were actively building organizational capabilities in change management. The organizations were of various sizes, from various industries (Retailer, Manufacturer, Financial Services, Utilities, Business Technology), and were at different levels of change management maturity. While each of these organizations told a unique story, in every case there was a particular project or initiative where change management was applied and delivered results. This "signature win" laid the groundwork for expanding change management and initiating the journey of building organizational capabilities.
From a "People Side of Project ECM" perspective
Proofs of success play a key role in building support and buy-in for change management - i.e. the People Side of Project ECM. When people can see change management in action, and can see the results that were achieved, they are more likely to support and engage in change management, and bring those principles and practices into their own work.
There are three main advantages of using success stories to build commitment and buy-in:
- Success stories create Awareness - Awareness is the first building block in the Prosci ADKAR Model. Awareness is attained when impacted employees understand why, why now and what if not. Showing how a project looked different - and was able to deliver results and outcomes - as a result of applying change management contributes to Awareness of the need for change management.
- Success stories contribute to Desire - Desire follows Awareness in the Prosci ADKAR Model. Desire is the personal decision to get on board and support the change, tied to organizational and individual motivators. A case of success resulting from change management spurs those personal decisions throughout the organization.
- Success stories make change management "real" - Change management can be complicated to understand, especially for project team members or managers who have not seen it in action. Using real applications as the basis for your conversation makes it easier for your audiences to understand what it means to apply change management on a project.
Strategically selected, rigorously documented
If you are in the midst of applying change management, or have a recently completed project where you applied change management, then the storyline is ready for you. Your next step is to be sure you are telling a compelling story by capturing the key parts of the story, including:
- Who was impacted and how they were impacted
- What "people side of change" challenges were anticipated
- What specific adoption and usage metrics were focused on
- What impact your change management work had
- How feedback was collected from various groups (impacted employees, managers, supervisors, project team)
- What change management activities you completed
If you aren't currently working on a project, then you will want to be strategic in selecting the "case" that will become you success story and signature win. You won't want to select a project randomly, instead look for initiatives based on these criteria:
- Visible across the organization
- Significant expected project benefits tied to adoption and usage
- Adoption and usage that are measurable (a system change is easier to measure than a cultural change)
- Pockets of change management support already exist
- Senior leaders and the project team have some knowledge and appreciation for change management