The 5 key design decisions to drive change management in your organization

The 5 key design decisions to drive change management in your organization

Editor’s note: This article was co-written by Kate Villanueva, Denae Foster, Boge Sotirovski, Haley Miller, and Jasmine Ko, members of Productboard’s Professional Services team.

When you go through any transformation, whether that’s introducing a new tool or revamping your product processes, it means a big change for your organization as a whole. As members of Productboard’s Professional Services team, we’ve worked with countless teams to define their future state and helped them make key design decisions to revamp their product processes. While it is important to think about your future state, it is also critical to define what your change management journey will look like within the broader organization. Change management is key to driving adoption and buy-in for the transformation you are implementing. 

We help our customers think holistically about their change management strategy, from understanding the change impact to measuring how change is being adopted. Our change management framework outlines the key pillars to driving successful change in your organization. 

Productboard Change Management Framework

When we work with organizations on their product transformation, we define their change management strategy through these 5 key design decisions.

Key Design Decision #1: Who will be your designated champions to help drive change and adoption within your organization?

When facing change it’s important to think not only about the platform and process but also the people who are going to be leaders in driving change.  These are your change champions – designated power users or influencers in your organization who can be called in to make key design decisions and drive adoption. They are excited about helping the organization go through this change journey or transformation. 

Consider the following when defining your change champions:

  • Nominate champions who have strong communication and can provide influence to teams.
  • Nominate champions who are open to feedback, embody positive change, and have a vision for the future state.
  • Ensure your change champions are aligned on the time and effort needed from them throughout the program.
  • Program owners should promote internally who the champions are and how they can help across the organization.

Key Design Decision #2: What will you have in place to gather feedback and monitor how change is being adopted after implementation?

As change is being implemented, it is important to ensure you are taking time to validate how your messages are being received and understood by your teams. It’s worth considering the following: 

  • Surveys to pose questions and collect valuable real-time feedback and insights that help identify any gaps or issues to be addressed. For example, employee pulse surveys could be used to provide frequent check-ins with quick and focused questions on the change initiative. Subsequently, you can continue to track how the team’s survey results change over time. 
  • Focus Groups to have guided, open-ended discussions/interviews with key stakeholder groups post-change. The forum will serve to dive deeper into qualitative insights and allow for two-way dialogue. Champions can continue to advocate for change and serve as facilitators for these discussions. 
  • Change champion check-ins to establish cadence for dialogue with other change champions to share feedback on key questions, concerns or success stories. It’s also helpful to review key metrics to determine if change is being adopted well, then work together to course correct as necessary. 
  • Reporting to track and measure the effectiveness of your organization’s managed changes. With the use of metrics and targets (see our third key below), reviewing and reporting results on a regular basis monitors change progress and plus the value of the change to an organization over time.

Key Design Decision #3: What metrics will you use to determine if change is being adopted well in your organization?

Measuring change success is now, more than ever, becoming an expectation for many organizations and a best practice that is essential at every stage of the change management process. At Productboard, we measure change management success in three main categories: at the organization level, individual level, and the program level. 

  • Measuring change success at the organization level helps determine if the initiative delivered what was expected. Measuring this requires a good understanding of what drove the change; that knowledge can then be translated into a success criteria and measurement parameters. 
  • At the individual level to determine how well the teams are adopting change. Take a look at usage and utilization metrics — a low volume of logins might indicate that users are unaware of the change or aren’t incentivized to embrace it (the ‘what’s in it for me?’ messaging isn’t clear). Additionally, comments and feedback from internal surveys conducted will provide more or further  insight and clarity. 
  • Measuring change at  the program level aids in determining the effectiveness of change management strategies. Monitor the participation and attendance of training sessions – has attendance increased or decreased over time? Additionally, analyze the effectiveness of communications distributed (e.g. review responses and number of employees reached). 

Key Design Decision #4: How will you reward and recognize the right behaviors and processes?

Change is a constant. While implementation is a great time to start communicating and creating excitement around change, one of the most important items to consider is how to uphold change long-term. When a transformation takes place, we recognize that it also takes time. Throughout the change journey, it’s critical to reinforce through rewards and recognition to ensure those impacted by change are reminded of the benefits and positive outcomes it’s driving for them. 

Celebrating healthy habits and adopters of change is a great way to keep the momentum going. This can include: 

  • Recognition: Recognize those who have embraced the change in private or public avenues – these can be individuals who promote change within their teams or potentially power users who are setting the right examples and behaviors.
  • Gamification: Gamify the right behaviors by outlining a “leaderboard” to show who achieved the highest metrics. As an example, in Productboard, we recognize our Contributors who provided the most notes or Makers who triaged the most notes. 
  • Incentivize: Develop an incentive program (who doesn’t love swag or gift cards) to provide tangible rewards to your power users or change promoters – this helps build excitement for change and establishes a positive change culture.

Key Design Decision #5: What will you have in place to overcome blockers with adopting change?

Planning for change doesn’t just mean mapping out the change management activities to be done. Proper planning should also factor in the potential risks you may encounter and how to mitigate them. (As the saying goes – “hope for the best, plan for the worst”.)  A sound strategy should also take into account the potential blockers with adopting change, like:

  • Lack of awareness. Low (or non-existent) visibility across the organization that change is coming or the organization is not informed that change is coming. Make sure to:
    • Include a communication strategy in your change management plan.
    • Leverage different communication channels to ensure your message is visible — don’t rely solely on e-mails or Slack — and take opportunities to publicize in cross-functional meetings or company all-hands.
  • Change detractors are present. Individuals who are resistant to change and/or inhibit change among their teams. It’s critical to:
    • Take the time to understand what is causing the resistance to make detractors feel heard, part of the process. They may also offer a unique perspective that’s valuable for your change management plan.
    • Have a clear value story and “what’s in it for them” that can outline why the change is necessary and the net benefit they will experience.
    • Communicate frequently throughout the change journey and spend some time getting direct feedback from detractors to keep a pulse on how they are feeling or how you need to pivot.
  • Low tolerance for change. Whether teams are not seeing value or there is minimal time to learn and implement the change, the organization is not willing to embrace the new ways of working. That’s why it’s important to:
    • Plan out your change journey in incremental phases, potentially starting with quick wins and/or low impact to the organization.
    • Identify “change champions” within the organization that can help promote change and drive positive sentiment from the ground up.
    • Align with leadership on the vision and value of the change for the organization and involve them in communications to publicize the importance of the change and promote the change culture internally. 

Now you have a quick overview of each key design decision to drive change management in your organization. If you’re interested in learning more about how we’ve helped our customers work through these decisions, reach out to our services team.

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