Guest Column | June 26, 2014

How Change Projects Succeed

Stephen McIndoe

By Stephen McIndoe, VP Consulting, Be4ward

In my previous articles in this series on change and program management of artwork improvement projects, I talked about:

  • Issues that need to be considered when setting up an artwork capability improvement program
  • Change management aspects to consider to ensure the change is delivered in a sustainable way
  • How to design and resource individual improvement projects to ensure effective delivery.
  • How to orchestrate these individual changes into a holistic and integrated program.  

In the final article in this series, I will look at key learnings in the delivery of change programs and how they apply to artwork improvement programs

This essentially forms a high-level checklist of all the things that you need to make sure are in place to ensure the success of your project. For this purpose, we will refer to research that Professor John Kotter performed at Harvard Business School. His research into the success and failure of major change initiatives in organizations led to the conclusion that change initiatives succeed when they do a number of specific things. I will review those key success activities and provide some of our recommendations on how they apply to improving an overall artwork capability. We have found it useful to use this insight to help build a project scorecard that is reviewed by the steering team periodically to ensure that a project is covering all the critical areas to ensure success.

Kotter’s Steps for Implementing Successful Change (And Some Thoughts On How This Relates To Artwork Capability Improvement)

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  • Clearly identify and communicate the compelling reasons for action
  • Develop the To-Be in a way that directly resolves key issues and links to delivering the overall business strategy
  • Phase capability improvement activity to focus on delivering shorter term, critical improvements first
  1. Develop a guiding coalition
  • Identify a senior business sponsor
  • Put in place a cross-functional governance group to steer the project and make key decisions for the business
  1. Develop a vision for change
  • Collaboratively develop a vision of the To-Be, involving the key impacted stakeholder groups
  1. Communicate the vision
  • Develop materials and messages to explain the To-Be vision in terms that can be understood by all impacted parties of the organization
  • Use these materials and messages in many ways to communicate the vision to the broader population
  1. Empower broad-based action
  • Deliver the overall change though a number of individual initiatives or projects, if possible
  • Ensure projects involve appropriately cross functional teams
  • Engage a broader group of stakeholders in key solution design activities
  1. Generate short term wins
  • Phase capability improvement activity to focus on delivering shorter term, critical improvements first
  • Consider picking off some “low hanging fruit” type benefits, delivering them and then publicizing these wins
  • Publicize key progress milestones that occur on projects
  1. Don’t let up
  • Ensure that the sponsor and steering team hold the projects and organization accountable to deliver what has been promised and work through the inevitable issues that will occur
  1. Make it stick in the organization culture
  • Ensure change initiatives have a focus on developing and supporting culture and behavior that will help ensure the sustainability of the solutions they deliver
  • Maintain a cross-functional governance body after the initial project(s) have finished with an accountability to maintain and develop the capability and culture that has been put in place

In summary, delivering quality artwork is a complex endeavor involving many moving parts. In the largest organizations, artwork capabilities involve thousands of people, working across many internal functions, in more than one hundred countries, involving tens, if not hundreds of external organizations. The capabilities require the skilful design and management of integrated business processes, organizations, and facilities, which are enabled by a suite of sophisticated information technology systems. In smaller companies, whilst the scale is reduced, the fundamental challenges remain unchanged. Establishing and delivering improvements in artwork capabilities is a significant but achievable change management challenge.

However, achieving excellence is achievable and has been attained by a number of healthcare companies. Delivering change in this area requires the management of a complex interaction of business processes: people in many different functions, organizations and countries using many, often validated, information technology tools. This requires careful and skilled project and change management skills to do it effectively if significant compliance risks are to be avoided.

This completes my series of articles on successful labeling and artwork management. I hope you have found them useful. Next month, I will start a new series of articles on how to manage packaging complexity.