For those who were unable to attend our event last week, here is a transcription of what our panel of experts had to say about Change Management!

What has been the most surprising aspect of your career of driving change in organizations?

Greg McLaughlin: I might say how important it is, and I think there’s a lot of people that run CRM programs, and that’s sometimes their blind spot. I’ve got all the certifications. I understand the architecture. I understand the integration, but people that are really focused on change management, those are the people that add the most value to a CRM program.

Derika Rosenthal: I 100% agree and I think one of the biggest a-ha moments I had for change management was change management really has to be thought of in the very beginning of your Salesforce implementation. What I mean by that is when you’re even in the requirements phase, you need to be thinking, okay, what is the value going to be for the end users? The difference when I say that is let’s say you want to click a button, for example, or edit a record, right? You’re not just editing a record, you’re not just clicking a button, you’re not just entering data. What are you actually doing with that data? How does management use that data? How do the users who are entering data use that data to provide the value of what’s in it for them, so they will want to use it?

So, that’s a huge a-ha moment that I had. Make sure you’re always having that what’s in it for me, from the very beginning of your life cycle.

Mary Moseley: I think what’s most surprising for me, at least at this point is how change management has been a thing for like 50 years and then a big thing and a heavily talked about thing for 20 or 30. I still see, less so at Slack but a lot in my prior life when I was in a less controlled environment, I still see teams, project teams consistently not giving it its due and not doing enough best in class change management practices.

I don’t think it’s hard to find, there’s a lot of information out there and a lot of ways to learn how to do change management right. It’s evolved just like we’ve gone from waterfall delivery to agile delivery, change management field has made some changes in that sense as well. It seems like it shouldn’t be so hard to apply some of those things, but I see it time and time again coming up that it’s due.

How do the organizations you are with today define change management?

Greg McLaughlin: We define change management as influencing people to perform the behaviors that are going to enable them to be successful. It’s all about driving appropriate and successful behavior. I sort of felt my own methodology, you probably haven’t read about it yet because I haven’t quite published the book, but I have a methodology I’ve brought with me from all the different places I’ve been.

As Jamie mentioned, I’ve been with GE and United Health Group, you know, some big Fortune 500, 100 companies. I developed this principle, it’s a guiding principle that I call overwhelming benefit, the concept of overwhelming benefit. It’s not a super complicated principle. The idea is that for every behavior that you want to drive, the process or the technology that you’re seeking people to adopt has to deliver so much benefit that the value of adopting the behavior or the process or the technology completely obliterates the amount of effort it takes to actually engage.

So, we build a series of value compositions. Very visual, what’s in it for me? We’ll come up with a dozen, and we’ll pepper people with these messages, we’ll present in our phase zero in our communications, we’ll reinforce it in all of our team meetings. People appreciate when you make a commitment to them to deliver something that’s valuable that delivers what’s in it for me, and you make a commitment to minimize the effort it takes to actually engage in that process. That’s how we approach change management for our business.

Derika Rosenthal: Change management at Salesforce really means to our part of the business that we’re preparing users for the change, so they know it’s coming, they know what to expect. We have to get users excited about the change, so this is a really big component of change management. Not just getting them excited, we also have to then e-cultivate what we call trailblazers internally, and evangelists.

So, we do drink our own Kool-Aid when it comes to that. We also have to obviously train the users on the change, and then delivering on that, that this is value, that’s what’s in it for me. That’s really the role of change management, and at Salesforce and in our group especially, a lot of companies might involve late stages of a project, they may be involved in training and communications. We’re really involved at the very beginning of a project to make sure all of that is incorporated from the very beginning.

Mary Moseley: At Slack, I think we thought that there weren’t enough frameworks out there so we created another one. Basically, at Slack, I’m one of two change management leads. I do the east, we have a woman doing it in the west. We together crafted our framework, which is a three-phased approach to running a change program. The three phases are: understand, design and launch.

It’s predicated on the importance of understanding your users’ needs before you even go into design, then taking all those needs and mapping them to the tool, and then designing an experience at Slack that meets those needs, then ultimately launching it, which is a pretty simple phase because it’s just launch, but we had to have a third phase, so that’s how we approach it at Slack.

At a tactical level, what programs and initiatives have you designed to ensure roll-outs and implementations were successful both internally and in a client facing roles?

Greg McLaughlin: In addition to the overwhelming benefit as sort of one of our themes, our other theme is fun. I think it’s really important to commit to people that we’re going to make this fun. In everything that you do, you try to build fun into the programs you roll out.

For instance, as we were developing our CRM platform, awareness and understanding and educating people was really important, along the lines of your methodology at Slack. What we did was rather than just do demonstrations or bring people in for focus groups, we called them sneak peeks. We actually set the room up like a movie theater and we got a huge screen and we actually made popcorn and we made a fun event out of it.

It totally changes the whole dynamic of your launch. Anywhere where you can infuse fun into the way you interact with your people, totally changes the way that they engage.

Derika Rosenthal: We do something very similar except there’s no popcorn, so I’m really kind of upset about that. At the very beginning when we are starting requirements, we set up a group who we call the trailblazers. We select people who are doing  amazing at their job and tell them, “we want you to help lead this application.”

From then, it’s an opportunity to get a different view of what they normally do, so it’s exciting for them and I think they like that. We have workshops, and we get the requirements from them.  We are giving them one on one training, one on one hand holding, one on one excitement because we obviously can’t do that at scale for everyone in the organization, I think it’s over 800 or 1,000 people. We just can’t do that.

So, what we do is we cultivate these trailblazers early on so that when it’s ready for go time, they have already helped us communicate to the field how amazing it is, and they are so excited that this change is happening. So, it really, really helps and it’s not just us, it’s not just the managers, not just leaders saying you have to use it. The people on the ground are going to be buzzing that this is going to revolutionize and change the way they do their job, and they’re going to get so much time back and it’s going to be amazing.

Mary Moseley: In particular at Accenture, we found a lot of success and I’ve sort of brought a lot of this on at Slack, implementing design thinking techniques into our change management approaches. I almost half roll my eyes at the term design thinking because it’s such a buzz word right now and I get that, but I want to make a plug for it because it actually really has helped me do change discovery work with end users.

Mary Moseley: So, understanding what they need to know and when they need to know it. Figuring out what messaging is going to resonate the best. We’ve had a lot of success at Slack doing it and also at Accenture implementing it as well.

How do you choose a strategy for driving these changes? Are some methodologies less effective than others?

Greg McLaughlin: I think methodologies, particularly in change management, are really great as a guide but what shouldn’t be lost is there is room for intuition. Because change management is such an interpersonal discipline, and I think the methodology is great as a guiding principle. Our guiding principle is… everybody wants to be very learning-focused. We want to create all this awareness. We want to empower people.

It’s good as a guiding principle, but in the day to day trenches of change management, there’s still a lot of interpersonal intuition you need to use, because you need to.

Let’s say you do a stakeholder analysis, and you’re really trying to understand, “Hey, who is adverse to what we’re trying to do? And who is really in favor? Who are our advocates? Who are the people that we’re going to have the most difficulty with?” It’s great to have a methodology for how you’re gonna code those people and color them red, green and orange.

But at the same time, you still need to come up with a human strategy almost person by person, certainly group by group, on how you’re gonna create a connection, how you’re going to ask probing questions, or how you’re going to get them engaged and involved.

No methodology can teach you some of that intuition.

People that are really good at change management have that methodology in the back of their mind, but then have empathy and really good EQ in their arsenal to use as part of their strategy.

Derika Rosenthal: I can’t stress this enough, it has to be focused on the business value. It can’t be focused on the technology.

Once you start focusing on click funded, you’re done. You’ve lost your audience. For example, let’s say there’s a change coming. Let’s say you’re telling people about a new report. Let’s just make something really basic, right? If you say, “This report stage equals Open is True, is marked False,” you’re done. You’ve lost your user.

But if you say, “Now you can manage all of your open pipelines and keep your manager off your back,” people will look at that.

I just think it’s really, really important to always have that lens. If you don’t have that lens, I just think you don’t get people excited. You don’t build awareness. You don’t build… and then people obviously don’t use the change, because they don’t understand what’s the value for them and how it’s going to make their job easier.

What advice do you have for when your strategy is not working and your facing challenges head on?

Greg McLaughlin: That’s an interesting question because there’s sort of a multidimensional answer to that question. When things go wrong, you have to fix it, and you have to figure out what to do. You set yourself up to be successful at the point where something goes wrong, not at that moment, but six months, nine months, a year before something goes wrong. When you start a project, you have to already anticipate that everything’s gonna go wrong.

What you need to do is you need to start preparing people at the start of the project for what’s in it for me? What’s the overwhelming benefit? Why are we doing this? What’s the case for change? And keep them engaged all along. But you also have to be upfront that things are going to go wrong. You have to be very clear with them what your risks are. In doing that, you need to engage people so that they’re part of the solution.

These things are going to go wrong, so we’re gonna work together to try to figure out how we can avoid whatever risks are associated with our project. But it’s going to be very much of a partnership between you, the user base, and us.

When things go wrong, number one, people kind of expected it a little bit, because they’ve been coached, and they’ve been communicated to, and they’ve been a part of the project from start to finish. Then when they go wrong, because they were a stakeholder, and because a lot of what was developed came from them, it was their idea, or was at least something that they were totally bought into, rather than being the person on the sideline complaining about the problem, they’re more willing to be the partner and help you solve the problem.

You change that dynamic of the outsider complaining, not at the time the problem happens, but in the investment you make in the user base six months earlier when you get them engaged as a part of the project, not just a bystander on the sidelines.

Mary Moseley: I think that something always goes wrong, unfortunately. I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a fully successful implementation in my entire career, which is long or short depending on how long your career’s been.

We’re doing two things at Slack, pretty dedicatedly. One, we are not spending a ton of upfront time creating a big plan. We are doing that rooted in the thinking that by the time your team has spent six weeks filling the plan, at least the way Slack implementations go, things have already changed. The products changed, the user bases changed, something is changed.

We’re kind of getting around things failing because we don’t create these grand plans that promise things over extended periods, but rather we’re doing it in an agile manner.

Additionally, we’re specifically thinking about behavior change in adoption in less of a big bang way, but in an incremental way. Again, that’s probably specific to this Slack platform, so we don’t really say, “The user has to come on and do X, Y, and Z things in Slack on day one.” We just want little, incremental changes. We want them in the tool.

Then a month later, we want them in the tool 15 days a month, 15 days. 10 days a month, you know? Then two months later, we want them engaging in apps and integrations in the tool. That’s based on some theories about behavior change, which are that in the long run, the way for someone to adopt a change or really change their behavior is for them to make little tiny changes repeatedly over time.

It’s based on this concept of equilibrium, where if you swing someone too far out of their equilibrium, they’re gonna be more resistant than if you just push them slowly and slowly and slowly to get them where you want them to go.

I don’t really have a solution for what to do when things go wrong, but I have a way to spin it on its head and try to get in front of it.

Okay last question, you have executives, stakeholders, users, trailblazers. How should these work together? How do you define certain groups to set up a program for success or just kind of know the moving parts?

Greg McLaughlin: What I would argue is that anybody who runs a program that requires influencing other people to get engaged and to adopt the program, is in change management.

Another way to say it is, I’ve been in CRM for 25 years. I’ve never been in sales. I’ve never had a quota or a commission or anything like that. Yet, I feel like I’ve been in sales my whole career. Sales and change management are not very different. It’s about influencing somebody to take an action based on a perceived benefit that they’re gonna get by taking that action.

In theory, anybody that has that task, which is anybody that does anything in business, is in change management.

Derika Rosenthal: [In addition to Trailblazers] we also work with our stakeholders. At Salesforce we also have a steering committee, so that’s an executive level committee that basically making sure the project is running smoothly. One of their roles is to make sure change management is on track. Constantly measuring adoption. We’re looking at different dashboards and reports, making sure users are using it.

Another group is the managers, the leaders, our RVPs, SVPs. You have to make sure that they are getting their team to use it. Having those leaders in there, along with the trailblazers, is really important. Making sure they’re receptive to the change so that they’ll have the trailblazers showcasing the changes day to day.

Mary Moseley: At Accenture and I think at most large consulting companies, the change teams, the roles are divided based on a comps person, a learning person, and then when relevant, a support model and their operating model person, then a lead to lead the whole show.

This is typically how we’ve been doing it at Slack as well with one change, which is that we are bringing in much more deployment coordination and actual product customization into the change leads role.

I have a very clear role and a seat at the table when we design not only how and when the user will get Slack, but what it’s gonna look like when they open it up, and what apps and integrations we’ll let in. I think the more traditional change manager and model, that whole, or a traditional roll-out model, that would fall on a deployment coordinator or a designer, and instead, we’re kind of bringing it into the change function.