Written by: Brian Mackay
Change is essential for all organizations; however, managing change can be exceptionally difficult and there are countless examples of companies failing to execute business transformation goals. In the world we live in today, with rapid improvements to technology and unpredictable external factors, customers’ needs and wants can change in an instant. Companies must be able to adapt quickly and efficiently to stay competitive in their market.
There are endless ways implementing a new strategy or process change can fail within a Go To Market (GTM) organization; however, there are 5 common mistakes that, if avoided, will save your team a tremendous amount of time, money, and stress.
Typically, failure can be a result of sacrificing strategy for speed, forgetting the end users, insufficient training and resources, lack of communication (during implementation keeping communication lines open), and/or failing to provide upfront context for the changes being made.
High-growth companies are frequent culprits of sacrificing strategy for speed. Once a decision is made, the project must be executed and implemented as soon as possible. What is often forgotten is that execution and implementation should actually be the final steps in driving successful change. By following these steps, you will improve your organization’s ability to make quick and effective changes.
Inspect Your Current Processes
Understand how the new changes will impact all teams, such as marketing, data, sales, customer success, and finance. You should also understand the technical implications for things like data collection, volume of pipe generation, velocity of sales cycles, deal size value, conversions, and retention.
For example, say a company wanted to implement Account Based Marketing (ABM). A lack of understanding of their current marketing processes could result in duplicate messages being sent to the same accounts. Additionally, without having the proper data structures and historical data in place, it would be impossible to measure the success of their ABM strategy.
Understanding both the high-level implications and the technical aspects will allow your team to prepare for problems that will slow the project and improve the team’s ability to measure success against the predicted expectations.
This step, while often overlooked, is extremely important, as it will allow your team to open up their thinking and gain new perspectives that will impact the final solution design. I once worked on a project where a company had acquired another company and we needed to pass data between the two Salesforce instances. At some point throughout the project, one of the companies needed to add validation rules to the opportunity object in Salesforce. The validation rules would have broken the connection between the two systems and stopped the flow of data.
If we had not met prior to deployment of these validation rule changes, it would have caused major problems that we would have been scrambling to fix. Creating and maintaining alignment will decrease complications and speed up the change management process as your team has communicated these changes early and received buy-in from other stakeholders.
Create an Executional Roadmap
Once your team understands how the new changes will impact your current process and you have created alignment between stakeholders, it is time to start building your executional roadmap. Start by breaking down a larger workstream into smaller tasks and begin assigning responsibilities and timelines to key stakeholders.
Project management tools like Airtable are great for building and organizing an executional roadmap. They allow you to assign responsibilities, keep track of timelines, and store all relevant information and documentation in one place. This will significantly improve your team’s ability to estimate timelines, avoid bottlenecks, and delegate work effectively.
Now that the strategy has been mapped out and agreed upon, it is time to execute the solution and implement the new process changes.
When teams make execution their first step, projects often end up failing or getting delayed while the team tries to execute a vision that has not been fully developed.
If your team doesn’t have a solid roadmap for execution, they will find themselves continuously adapting their work to fit changing priorities or waiting for other work to be complete before they can start on their task. We’ve seen many teams start the execution of a solution and do a bunch of work, only to find out that the solution they’ve been building doesn’t meet the requirements of another team. This can all be avoided by taking the time to inspect your current process, create alignment, and develop an executional roadmap.
Implementation is the final step in creating change in your organization. When starting the implementation process, it’s important to communicate clearly and provide context around why changes are being made. For a successful implementation, always keep the end-users in mind and provide sufficient training and resources for enablement.
It’s the leadership team’s job to optimize revenue for their company. They have a full understanding of why decisions are made but often jump directly to explaining how the change will be made and what its impact will be, forgetting to provide visibility to the larger team.
Humans strive for consistency between their beliefs and actions. In Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why he explains that the “why” is your company’s purpose or belief and provides an emotional context for decisions. Knowing the “why” makes employees more innovative, executional, and passionate about the work they are doing.
Providing clear details about the strategy and process changes going forward will empower your end-users to feel like they are part of the decision-making process. This both allows your team to gain perspective from the end user, and makes them more likely to adopt the change quickly.
Unfortunately, it’s very common for strategy and operations teams to forget about the end user. They’ll decide on a new strategy or create a well-thought-out process that should significantly improve outcomes if done correctly; however, turning theory into practice is almost impossible when you forget the perspective of the end user.
At Go Nimbly, we’ve seen this happen many times: the operations team will create a solution based on a bunch of assumptions and bring this new process to the end users only to find out that their assumptions were incorrect and the solution created will only cause more stress and take more time.
Including the end user in the discussions will allow your team to validate or disprove assumptions and will provide insight into how receptive the end-user will be to the changes being discussed. Once your team understands the level of effort needed by the end user to change their habits and behaviors, you can begin to create incentives through formal mechanisms.
The success of a process change often hinges on the adoption of the end user. Your team must change habits using incentives to reinforce good behaviors through formal mechanisms. This is often done through compensation incentives; however, many studies have shown that money is not the only motivator. Creating a system to recognize the positive impact individuals have on clients or their team is also a great way to reinforce good behavior by giving people a sense of purpose and belonging.
In an organization I worked at previously, we implemented a solution where sales reps would be able to organize accounts from most profitable to least profitable based on a few metrics we identified. We thought that sales reps would adopt this new tool, however, we did not see any changes to the sales rep’s sales processes. We began to see positive behavior change in sales reps once we created a slack notification system that would be sent out across the sales team for highly profitable deals and implemented a compensation system that aligned with the behavior we wanted to see.
Creating sufficient training and resources for changes being made is a key factor in successful change management. Your team must document the changes being made and explain exactly ‘why’ that decision was made, how it will improve outcomes, and what process changes need to take place going forward. Having a space to define changes to a process will eliminate confusion and serve as a source of truth for the organization.
I have seen countless examples of process changes not being documented correctly and the operation team has to answer simple questions for weeks after a deployment took place. A simple way to avoid this burden is to create documentation that can be sent to managers and end users so they can find the answers themselves.
- Before you begin the execution of a solution, inspect your current processes and understand key metrics so you can measure the success of your solution
- Create alignment between teams to gain perspectives and avoid bottlenecks
- Create a roadmap using project management software and assign responsibilities to individuals with due dates
- Creating a solid roadmap will significantly improve the pace of execution
- During implementation always provide context and the ‘why’ these changes are being made
- Include the end user in the solution design and create formal mechanisms to reward good behavior
- Document the process change and don’t forget to provide the ‘why’