Martech and change management: Human factors matter most
Investing time to understand the nuances of change management can help martech practitioners deliver better results.
We’re all unique individuals, and what may seem common sense to one person isn’t to another. During my undergrad years, I wondered why I saw so many books about how to conduct productive meetings. Just a couple of years later, I soon realized their purpose as I witnessed others fail and found myself floundering as well.
My recent training in change management reminded me of this fact. Change management aims to address the human factors involved in organizational changes because change is hard for people. During the training, a few of my colleagues commented that a lot in our pre-work for class sessions seemed pretty obvious. However, as the training proceeded, we realized that there was far more to fostering positive change than we had thought.
As martech practitioners, we’re involved in change. We hunt for solutions for evolving needs, determine what we should add or remove to our stacks, grapple with evolving platforms and vendors, study changes in audience preferences, establish and adjust integrations, influence the requirements of collective skills, and so on. What we do and track affects our colleagues.
That’s where change management can help out. In my workplace, we use the Prosci methodology, but there are a variety of different methods available.
According to Prosci, there are three essential components to change: Leadership/sponsorship, project management and change management. Leadership support is clearly needed for any significant organizational initiative and project management (like the agile methodology scrum, for example) provides the mechanisms and procedures of the change. While they’re essential, change management more directly addresses human factors.
Resistance is a natural human reaction to change regardless if it’s good or bad. Change management provides tactics for addressing both expected and unexpected resistance. For instance, an organization may decide to change CMS platforms. Each employee will have their own unique reaction. These reactions draw from the individual’s comfort with the current CMS, perception of their ability to adjust to another platform, their perceived influence on the decision and many other understandable factors.
Two (of many) elements of the Prosci method help address such reactions to this change. First, there’s ADKAR, which stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. By considering the elements of this acronym, a change manager can help leaders and project management staff help people understand a change, persuade them to accept and commit to the change. There are a variety of tools to assist with this including assessments, surveys, strategy templates, clear definitions of the roles of various actors and plans for communications, sponsors, training, coaching and resistance management. Second, it is important to consider coalitions with managers and staffers. When a sponsor conducts a change, it is very helpful to assess who is for and against it by considering their attitude and competence related to the change. For instance, a highly competent opponent can derail the initiative so an effort to help them champion the change is advisable (and likely essential to success). Regardless of a coalition member’s classification, it helps to assess the landscape and develop strategies to persuade and support others in the change.
Understanding how people feel about a change? Identifying how various stakeholders view the change? Develop plans to increase the chances of adoption and commitment? All seem pretty obvious, right?
Although there are constantly new trends and buzzwords in the business world, I recommend that martech practitioners invest some time to learn about change management. While one may not ultimately specialize in the practice, an understanding of it will help the practitioner perform their job and deliver results for their employer.