Why change communications in innovation projects
Succeeding with transformation
Succeeding with transformation
The need for innovation and reinvention within organisations is a hot topic and frequently discussed at seminars, lectures and workshops. It is widely accepted that it is vital to be creative, to think outside of the box and to be disruptive to stay on top of the game and remain competitive. Of course, this is all true. However, often one aspect is overlooked in innovation projects – the importance of change communication.
So, how can we influence people to overcome their resistance towards change? First and foremost by taking a step back. The most crucial phase to manage to succeed with innovation and organisational change is the early phase of ideation. By involving the team who will be affected by the change at this initial phase in the innovation and change process, you can lower their resistance and increase their engagement.
One of the most efficient ways to increase people’s approval of an idea is to make them participate in the creation of it. By inviting them into the discussion, they are much less likely to reject the final result.Malin H. Teles
An excellent example of early involvement is in the so-called facilitation workshops used to kick-off innovation projects. In such workshops, the team which will be affected by or involved in the change gathers in a creative discussion led by a facilitator. The facilitator asks a series of crucial questions which are answered by the participants, and this helps to map out the current state of things and where the project should head. This way, you can capture all the good ideas and thoughts that already exist within the organisation and identify where the difficulties and the opportunities lie. This early involvement of the employees not only generates further excellent ideas but also favours the future implementation of the project and lowers the employees' resistance as a result of the active engagement in the process.
The best ideas and solutions are many times found within the organisation if only the employees are allowed to express their views without worrying about being judged as wrong or irrelevant.Malin H. Teles
When initiating an innovation project, it should be clear to everyone why a change needs to happen. What is the purpose? What is the goal? Why can things not remain the way they are? The reason for the change must be articulated and communicated to put everyone involved on the same page.
Another critical thing to remember when it comes to communicating change is to make sure that everyone knows where to access information about the project.
Transparency is fundamental, and there should never be room left for speculation or uncertainty over what or how things are going to happen. For, when there is, the thoughts tend to be negative, and you run the risk of having rumours spread, which might hurt the process or the implementation of the final result. Hence, be transparent, accessible and avoid a top-down approach when communicating. However, when or if you do lack a particular piece of information – be honest about it. It's ok not to know everything. However, never, ever make up a story in an attempt to cover things up. It will only blow up in your face later.
When an organisation introduces a new system, software, equipment or organisational structure, it is vital to offer proper training to those affected. No matter how user-friendly and intuitive the service or product might be (and we hope it is!), always assume that training and support are needed and offered without the team having to ask. Be proactive!
To sum things up – whenever you find yourself in a change or innovation project – allow for the maximum amount of involvement of the people who will be affected. Moreover, do it as early as possible in the project. Be transparent, avoid top-down communications and provide adequate training for the implementation.