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Shocker: change plans that actually, erm, deliver change!

Shocker: change plans that actually, erm, deliver change!

Nicola Hopes

18 May 2021

Due to an (unfortunate) medical condition that affects my kidneys I was fortunate enough to have my 2nd COVID jab last week.

It felt like a real moment. And not just because (if you believe the weird conspiracy theories) Bill Gates now knows how many zone minutes I achieve in my virtual gym class and when I take the bins out. I wonder what he’ll do with such data gold?

And the announcement of the next level of lockdown easing in the devolved nations of the UK also felt like a moment.

I think I’m most excited about eating out with friends indoors, family visits, 3D gym classes and hugging (with common sense? – I don’t know about you, but I always apply common sense to who I hug!).

It feels like huge progress.

However, based on what had become a repetitive cycle of easing and reintroducing restrictions last year, we could be forgiven for scepticism when the roadmap was announced earlier this year.

But the success of the NHS vaccine rollout, combined with the meeting of all key dates so far, is making future promises feel more credible. More reliable.

And some of those same principles underpin any successful change roadmap.

Roadmap like you’re on rails

Whatever you think of the content of the government roadmap, you’d have to concede it’s been built by learning lessons from the past.

As illustrated by one of my favourite change quotes:

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence

– it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

Peter Drucker, Management Consultant and founder of the Drucker Institute

So, what are the factors that make a successful change roadmap?

Drawing on the lessons from COVID and my 23 years in change, successful and credible change roadmaps have these things in common.

1. Research not guesswork

Just as better knowledge of COVID transmission and its effects has contributed to sounder phases to ease lockdown, research is the key.

• Find out what other companies are doing to solve the same problem
• Commission quality research to get clear on your user’s needs and desires e.g. your colleagues or customers
• Research all options to get to your goal – technical, people, process

2. Clear communication

Agree a clear, simple set of messages and stick to them. Repeat with tedious regularity.

• The messages need to manage expectations of what your audience will get – and won’t get – from what you’re doing
• Due to past disappointments, some clients I work with have decided not to widely communicate change before successful delivery, so they have a ‘ta da’ moment rather than risk trust in their promises

3. Who said predictability was boring?

Like lockdown easing, for each phase of the roadmap describe the targets and criteria for moving on to the next.

• Describe what good looks like
• And what will lead to delays
• = As a result, your audience know exactly what to expect

Predictable. Change. Delivery.

4. Relentless delivery

Great roadmaps are underpinned by consistent change momentum.

• Plan for ongoing change iterations that build on the last, with some time allowed for adoption or stabilisation
• Avoid large chunks of big bang change punctuated by huge gaps
• Learn to celebrate every single success – it builds confidence and the appetite for more

Get this right and change not only becomes more achievable but also more believable to those affected.

And taking people on the journey with you is half the battle.

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