7 Strategies for managing change on your digital workplace project

In 2015, Habanero and Pragilis Solutions teamed up with Goldcorp to embark on an ambitious initiative to transform Goldcorp’s digital workplace.

This post was co-created with Mumtaz Chaudhary from Pragilis Solutions Inc.

The initiative was driven by Goldcorp’s commitment to workplace innovation and was recognized with both a Nielsen Norman 2017 Top 10 Intranet Design Award and a Step Two Intranet and Digital Workplace Award.

Nearly two years later, we look back to reflect on some of the key insights and strategies that helped the organization successfully manage a massive digital workplace change.

Insight #1: Change management was a priority from the start

The most important change activities occur at the beginning of a project — not the end. Stakeholders from all levels of Goldcorp, from the C-suite to front-line employees, were engaged at the start of the project through a series of interviews and workshops.

Feedback was collected and assessed, and findings were shared with the organization. Before anything was developed, concepts were discussed and a prototype was created for exploration and testing.

As the solution was being built, there were several sessions showing people how the team implemented the capabilities they had requested. These sessions provided valuable feedback to the project team with respect to both the design and technical approach, as well as how we would manage the people side of change.

Insight #2: We understood the effect on each stakeholder group

As the design of the solution was becoming solidified, we spent time with the project team to understand the solution's key capabilities and the potential effect on each stakeholder group. This was paired with our knowledge of the organization and its culture.

A mitigation plan was created for each stakeholder group affected by the initiative. This was essential, as it helped the project team communicate the specific value proposition for each group of stakeholders and garner buy-in, even from the most entrenched groups.

Insight #3: Our plan was flexible

Getting the plan right doesn’t mean it has to be perfect. As the project team learned more about the change itself and the impact the initiative would have on specific stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle, we augmented our change strategy to address their needs.

We also discovered that a handful of our engagement activities were generating the best results. As such, we focused on face-to-face meetings, storytelling activities, and autonomous training.

Insight #4: We leveraged champions to evangelize the change

Enlisting advocates (sometimes called agents or champions) as part of our change management strategy enabled us to communicate with and educate the workforce far more efficiently and effectively. These advocates were essential as they were credible messengers for the initiative and led by example. Executive sponsors, project leadership, and team members were coached on effective change leadership and change implementation, helping to ignite the digital transformation within the company.

Insight #5: We engaged with authenticity and empathy

People worry during times of change and fostering rich two-way dialogue is essential. We focused on being engagement-driven and not just communications-driven, ensuring that we solicited feedback as much as we shared progress.

We also paused on a regular basis to mitigate the risk of change fatigue, despite the timeline pressures observed within most technology projects. Projects should be delivered on schedule, but you must not rush through what’s needed to help people adopt to new ways of working. Not unlike legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, we adopted the philosophy “be quick, but don’t hurry.” We took the time to collaborate and build skills in the organization before going live.

Insight #6: We spoke to the benefits, not the features

Have you heard of WIIFM? Don’t be ashamed if you haven’t. “What’s in it for me?” is an important question to answer as you implement any digital solution.

When Apple first announced the iPod, they didn’t describe it as a “portable media player,” but as something that enabled you to have “1,000 songs in your pocket.” We used this same approach for Goldcorp’s digital workplace initiative. For example, the "consolidated news page" became “a unified view for all employees” and a “distributed permissions model” became “a clear and simple way to grant access to a team site".

Features tell, but benefits sell.

Insight #7: We built a targeted, role-based training program inspired by the governance model

The project’s governance model was born from challenges the organization faced in the current state, such as complicated permissions and "orphaned” content, which resulted in significant support costs for Goldcorp.

We identified new roles that address these challenges, mapped these roles to individuals within the organization, communicated with these individuals (and their line managers) around the revised responsibilities for their role, and trained them to ensure they had the skills required to perform these roles successfully.

We trained our change advocates first and supported them in training their peers and subordinates, ultimately training thousands of people in a few weeks prior to launch. People knew exactly what training to take, how long it was going to take them, and where they could reference additional reference materials online.

The training program also included specialized training for the IT help desk, who would be the first line of support for employees. They received targeted content on important how-tos, frequently asked questions, and resolution and escalation procedures.

The training model also served to sustain the change, because training was delivered by people within the organization who would retain the knowledge after the project ended.

We hope you can use these insights on your next digital workplace initiative. Effective change management is an investment in both your organization and your people and its value proposition is clear when we look at Goldcorp’s successful digital workplace project. By including your workforce in your digital workplace initiative, you guarantee long-lasting, positive change in your organization.

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