Essential change management skills for the information professional

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All –

I’m working on some materials that will be the essential change management skills for an information professional.  I’ve got a long list of things that I think are essential if you’re going to do change management as an information professional.  I was curious, what are the skills that you think are essential?  I’m thinking of specific skills that can be taught.  More of “How to create a persona” than “Good Communications.”

Does anyone have personal favorites that they lean on — or that you see missing in others that you wish they had?

Rob

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Rob,

3 top ones for me:

  1. Ability to effectively conceive, design, deploy and measure advanced tools such as gamification
  2. Capability to explain concepts such as information architecture in multiple, relatable, and straightforward (but still accurate!) manner
  3. Humor (I know that seems silly when you read it, but it is absolutely critical to success in my opinion, otherwise there is a significant likelihood you could come off as an automaton)

Aria

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Lorne –

Interesting, I’d never put gamification on the list — much less in the essential category.  (I guess it comes from my work with ATD, too many people say gamification and get it wrong.)  I think teaching the importance of human psychology and minimization of barriers is critical… I’m not convinced that gamification is all that important.

I agree, the ability to communicate is critical.  The tricky part is how do you break this into a teachable skill?  Distillation is not a common skill.

As a professionally trained comedian (literally), I appreciate humor — and I can teach the mechanics — but I’m also wondering how teachable this is in a targeted intervention.

thanks!  Feel free to share other ideas as they come.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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1.  understand the item you want to change thoroughly (as-is)
2.  understand all affected stakeholders
3.  understand the culture of the organization and how it reacts/accepts change
4.  have an easy to understand vision for the to-be Item
5.  build coalitions and support for the change
6.  find an executive sponsor to help champion the change
7.  have an easy to understand set of positive outcomes that will occur with the change
8.  pilot the change and incorporate feedback before final change
9.  clearly communicate the change roadmap
10.  monitor and adjust the new item

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Laura Downey, PhD
Branch Chief, Applied Architecture
TSA
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Laura –

Thanks. I agree these are all important aspects.  If you had to teach tactical skills to accomplish these, what would you teach?  For instance, for understanding the current state, I could teach ethnographic interviewing but that won’t work well if the person has been in the organization for a long time.

I internally translated some of your responses from “understand all affected stakeholders” to understanding the message they’re going to hear when they’re wondering “What is in it for me?”

Thanks again.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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I listed what I thought were the basic steps/tasks for good change management thinking that various skills were implied rather than just listing the skills.  Looking quickly at the steps I think the following major skills are needed:  analytical, communication, synthesizing, influencing, negotiating.

To me ethnographic analysis could be overkill, I would probably just say simple process analysis with the SME that knows the process best, or a very  small set of primary stakeholders.  Then just visually map out the process.  Then map out the proposed change.  Compare the two, and try quantify and qualify the benefits — will save $$$, will safe XXX staff hours, reduces number of steps, provides customers with information they didn’t previously had, helps us tap a new market….. so understanding and analyzing the existing process, propose the new process and compare. This provides the basics inputs for several of the other items then it becomes about communication, synthesizing, influencing, and negotiating mostly including getting resources and buy-in for the change, the pilot, final implementation etc.

I do think it is critical to understand the culture of the organization — how it deals with and accepts change — does the organization like risk and innovation, or slow and steady change?

For me personally I have found smaller simple changes are easier and quick wins rather than large, complex changes. But it may be that the large complex change is needed and welcome – in that case I would phase it into smaller more manageable chunks.  Which makes me think of another important skill – being organized. 🙂

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Laura Downey, PhD
Branch Chief, Applied Architecture
TSA
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I agree, I think that Ethnographic Interviewing is overkill for most situations (thus why I used it as an extreme).  Definitely being able to articulate the difference between the proposed and current state in terms of values is essential.

Similarly, I agree that smaller more frequent changes is the right answer.  Big changes are exponentially more difficult than smaller ones.

Despite what Bloom and his colleagues said about educational objectives, I’m not completely convinced that synthesis is teachable.  I think you can create the conditions for people to discover synthesis but I’m not sure that it’s something I could teach directly.  As we been talking, I think there are lots of tangible ways that we can help people communicate better.  However, I think that influencing and negotiating require a degree of personal fortitude that I’m not sure can be taught in the context of an event.  Do you agree?

On the analysis side, are you thinking information architecture/taxonomy type skills or something else?

Thanks again.  I appreciate the discussion.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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On analysis, I’m just  thinking the basics of process analysis — review whatever process docs exist, look at any digital/manual workflow and approval process, talk to the primary stakeholders/participants and draw a simple process diagram that includes major steps, trigger/inputs/outputs/artifacts  etc.  I wasn’t thinking of anything related to a taxonomy.  When I hear change management — most often it means a change to a process or way something is currently done.  I assumed, which I know is dangerous, you might be talking about CM in information management processes. 🙂

I think using a simple case study is the way to teach the basics of change management, then have students to a simple CM problem after that to just get them familiar.

Synthesis is hard to teach — ask any professor in a doctoral course. LOL  But it can  be demonstrated by showing an example that just lists a set of items or summary of items versus an example that shows how to synthesize that same information by weaving things together in a related manner.

Similarly influencing and negotiating are tougher to teach – you might try video demonstrations, probably some canned stuff somewhere, plus role-playing exercises in the class so students get a feel for it and practice a bit.  I think there are probably lots of training materials out there that might include the basics of how to influence and/or negotiate.   These soft skills are some of the most important to develop to be successful in any career on any task, but especially the hard ones like proposing something new.

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Laura Downey, PhD
Branch Chief, Applied Architecture
TSA
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Laura –

I think that there are two kinds of change management — and I think that I was thinking about both.  There’s the literal process optimization work (ala Lean or LSS).  For me those are so tactical and cut and dried that they’re not that difficult.  Then, there are the cultural shift type changes that are more challenging.  For instance, let’s say that we wanted to classify information and start to apply retention policies.  It represents a shift to the cultural norm — and thus will, I think, be substantially more challenging.

My difficulty with trying to teach change management with a basic example is the case either becomes too simple and people don’t think it applies to their organization or it’s so complex that people have a hard time wrapping their heads around it.  I’ve never been comfortable finding a degree of complexity in a model that I really loved.  Do you have any examples of things that you’ve seen work?

Re: Synthesis 😉  Exactly my point.  It’s really teaching people how to think and that I think is challenging.  I might have a shot at explaining systems thinking — but even that would require a substantial block of time and won’t feel very practical to the real world.  (Because the examples used to teach are so trivial)  (Though I really do like Thinking in Systemshttps://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2014/04/28/book-review-thinking-in-systems-a-primer/)

I’ve got some stuff on influencing and negotiating.  Influencing is a lot about building and then using affinity (I wrote about this in The Deep Water of Affinity Groups, https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2016/11/02/the-deep-water-of-affinity-groups/) Negotiating, I think, puts us back into the position of having to get people comfortable in their own skin, and I’m not sure how to do that in a single training event.

Thanks!

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Robert, When you said putting together materials I thought you meant as a guide, then later it seemed like you meant teaching it as a workshop or course.  If you only have a short time frame, then I agree there is no way to easily teach some of the soft skills needed.  You can only offer a guide and explain the steps and skills needed with some examples, and emphasize how important they are.

As far as dividing things up between tactical and cultural — not sure I agree that those are two kinds of CM.  I would offer they are two aspects of the CM process — the steps and the skills needed to execute successfully.  So you can give someone the general framework/approach for doing change management but also highlight where the cultural/social and soft skills need to be applied within the approach.

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Laura Downey, PhD
Branch Chief, Applied Architecture
TSA
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Sorry I wasn’t clearer about what I am trying to do.  I am thinking really if I had folks for a day and that’s all I had to make them effective what could I do.

One of the things that a friend and colleague taught me a long time ago was that there’s a tendency to want to teach people what you can do.  That’s not the right objective.  The right objective is what would they need to know to handle projects half the size and half as complex as you can handle.  That’s stuff that we can typically start to articulate — though for change management it seems to be harder than expected.

I’ve got various lists and stuff from coaching/mentoring engagements but pulling it all together is proving to be interesting.

As for the tactical/cultural… another way to think about this is whether you’re doing operational excellence or whether you’re doing innovative change.  I’ve seen a ton of lean/LSS which is organized around getting tiny improvements but across a large number of operations.   That’s one sort of change — and frankly I think it’s relatively easy.

The other kind of changes are “how will we work in the future” or “How do we totally re-imagine what we’re doing?”  those kinds of cultural, big-picture changes I find hard because they’re less tangible and don’t typically have the hard ROI that process optimization can have.

Rob

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Rob,

To be clear, I didn’t say gamification singularly, I said “such as”.  That said, I have found that particular tool to be especially helpful in terms of getting people involved and enthusiastic, and also as a way to motivate learning about new technology, processes, and concepts outside of the bounds of the corporately provided training that very much also needs to be a cornerstone for the CM effort.

The humor part not being teachable, well, yeah, pretty sure you’re right on that one.  My daughter has tried for YEARS to be as effortless as I am with, especially, sarcastically laced humor, and…we’ll just say it AIN’T a pretty picture ��.  I must admit to an awful lot of curiosity though about your comment of being a professional comic??

Aria

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Lorne –

In the general case, addressing the problem that talent development professionals (trainers and instructional designers) tend to try to cram information in students heads instead of making it fun, interesting, and relevant to learn is key.  I think that anytime you train you have to pay attention to what we know about adult learners.  (See https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2011/12/29/book-review-the-adult-learner-the-definitive-classic-in-adult-education-and-human-resource-development/)  The talent development folks sometimes just add gamification to a program like people add salt hoping that it will make the training work better.

As for the professionally trained comedian, years ago I was looking for a way to improve my speaking.  Though I had all sorts of experience from over a thousand people to intimate workshops, I wanted to get better.  I couldn’t find what I was looking here in terms of speaking coaching.  I saw an ad for a stand up comedy course taught by professionals.  So I took it.  My summary of the experience is at https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2011/07/27/i-am-a-comedian/

I’m still trying to narrow down on what essential skills that I can teach quickly.  As much as I love the idea of teaching comedy — it took 8 weeks to get the fundamentals.  I distilled it into a 3 hour program but that’s still too much to include as a part of a change management course.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Robert;

I would encourage you to get and review ISO 14105 Document management – Change management for successful electronic document management system (EDMS) implementation.    I think this document might already have what you are suggesting you write.    If you find areas not already included in this standard, and that you feel needs to be addressed, please let us know as we are always looking to keep the ISO standards up to date.

Regards,
R. Blatt

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Robert Blatt, MIT, LIT, CHPA-III
Principal Consultant, Electronic Image Designers (EID).
AIIIM Fellow #175
Chair, Trustworthy Storage
Chair, Trustworthy Document Management & Assessment
Chair, ECM Implementation Guidelines
ISO Convenor: 18829, 18759, 22957, 18759)
US Delegate to ISO TC/171
TC/171 Liaison Officer to TC46 SC11
TC/171 Liaison Officer to TC/272
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Gamification – While I’m not familiar with the term I suspect it relates to a couple of dimensions in the study of Decision Making (Decision Theory). My backgrounds includes both Game Theory and Risk Management. I’m not familiar with the term “Gamification” but I suspect I would pull from Game Theory and Risk Management. Game Theory revolves around two major concepts:

-Game type: ” Win-win”, “Win-Lose”, “Lose-Lose” , and other more complex types

-Risk Management is commonly taught in project management. It is practical structure for Decision Theory (which people tell me to stop being so academic when I explain). We could easily include concepts such as Probability and Risk/Reward in our curriculum. This could help our members structure the thinking when they are evaluating the risks involved against the cost of proper IM.

Could someone point me to a article that discusses “Gamification”

Thanks, Alan Frank PhD, CIP


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Gamification has been around for a bit — in my recollection I would say its application has increased over the last five years in industry and government even though the concept was introduced before that.

I see it as making things fun and more engaging.  Helping people learn, accomplish new tasks, improve tasks, change behavior etc.  It involves planning, risk, reward, competition and so on.

Here is the Gartner definition:

Gamification is the use of game mechanics to drive engagement in non-game business scenarios and to change behaviors in a target audience to achieve business outcomes. Many types of games include game mechanics such as points, challenges, leaderboards, rules and incentives that make game-play enjoyable. Gamification applies these to motivate the audience to higher and more meaningful levels of engagement. Humans are “hard-wired” to enjoy games and have a natural tendency to interact more deeply in activities that are framed in a game construct.

Many articles and resources out there via online search.  I didn’t have a favorite site/paper to offer. 🙂

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Laura Downey, PhD
Branch Chief, Applied Architecture
TSA
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Robert and Laura

Thanks for the additional info. My career has been heavily involved with Psychology and Design. My jobs began in the field of Usability, moving to user experience, moving to Information Management as I felt that poor managed information was a serious contributor to the lack of “usability and/or value” of information in both the consumer and business arenas. My immediate reaction of Robert’s update is “Agree!”. While I’ semi-retired, my best practice has always been to invest in design and change management to both create buy-in and deliver the value of IM systems. Poorly design business process, including IM, have always been difficult to train and have poor adoption profiles. Properly planned design exercise and Changement plans have usually increased the uptake during the training phase. Teaching people to use poorly designed systems and processes is not only difficult learn, but create issues as employees change jobs or the use of contract workers increases turnover.

Perhaps we need more emphasis in the “Design of Work” and “Changement” in the CIP curriculum? For those who are interested, I recommend the book “Change by Design” by Tim Brown as an excellent starting points. “The Design of Business” by Roger Martin is also an excellent resource.

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Alan Frank
Business Process Analyst
ASF Consulting
PhD, CIP, IGP
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Well hello fellow UXer 🙂  I have 25 years in UX and human factors.  UX of information and technology is a critical element in helping people both in their professional and personal lives.  A related topic that I don’t know I have seen in AIIM materials (or perhaps I just don’t remember) is the concept of human information interaction which started in the mid-90’s.  In UX there is information architecture and the UX of that, and also usability of technical writing  and  documentation, but I think HII is the broader concept and maybe something AIIM might embrace, especially in digital world.  But I digress from the change management topic. 🙂  If I get a chance I’ll start a thread on HII to see what the AIIM members things or know about it.

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Laura Downey, PhD
Branch Chief, Applied Architecture
TSA
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Alan –

To be clear, what I’m working on isn’t for CIP.  I’m sure that @Jesse Wilkins is watching the thread for potential impact, but I’m looking at something very distinct from that.

I’ve not seen either of the books that you’ve recommended .  I tend to lean on The Art of Innovation (https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2018/04/16/book-review-the-art-of-innovation/), Creative Confidence (https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2014/10/27/book-review-creative-confidence-unleashing-the-creative-potential-within-us-all/), and Design Thinking (https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2018/12/24/book-review-design-thinking-integrating-innovation-customer-experience-and-brand-value/) when trying to help people think about design differently. (I refer to them in that order.)  I’ve also got some other things that I’ve assembled from previous resources including an earlier variant of the Design Thinking Bootleg.

At times, I wonder if we’re not so distracted by the complexity of the technical challenges that we forget that the other aspects of the problem are just as important as the technical pieces.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Personally, I align to the Gartner definition much more so than a generalized “making things fun and more engaging”.

Aria

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Alan –

Gamification is typically implemented as scores and badges inside of a learning management system.  Done well, it can improve learning unfortunately too many people don’t bother to learn how to do it well.

It really doesn’t have much to do with either decision making/theory — mostly because it’s all emotional and not rational.  (Why do you care about a badge if no one recognizes what it demonstrates).

Unfortunately it also doesn’t have much to do with game theory either… It’s really a “game” that’s being played with the student’s minds.  They’re being manipulated into getting worthless scores and badges because we’re naturally inclined to do so — even if they hold no intrinsic value.

Lorne hit a hot button for me.  I’ve seen too many systems that apply the tactics without any understanding of the underlying psychology.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Fair comments Rob, and I don’t disagree with bad implementations of it.  However, not all are done as “worthless scores and badges”.  When I did this as part of an enterprise jump from file shares up to IBM FileNet integrated to hybrid SP/SPO, along with a whole net new IG and an ECM Office, and so on, we had very REAL prizes including a final grand prize (from the winders of lower level contests and prizes) of a 2 week holiday package in Greece with company-paid 4 star accommodations and vehicle rentals.  I think it safe to say most folks found that considerably more worthwhile competing for than a badge ��.

Aria

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The key is to understand the cause and effect process for how change happens in your organization. This in turn depends on analytical skills and on organizational experience (to understand what organizational effects can be produced by what causes; for example, what impact will be achieved by broadcast emails, by messages from supervisors to supervisees, etc.). It also depends on people skills (to understand where the levers of power are, what messages or what potential outcomes will galvanize action, and to obtain information from others who have conducted change management efforts in the past – some of which will have failed while others will have succeeded to some degree.)

Once you have a strong sense for how change can happen, a whole suite of other skills becomes useful:

  • Communication skills
    • Writing technical/guidance materials
    • Writing promotional materials
    • Visual content production: conceptual (flow diagrams), motivational (e.g. cartoons), technical.
    • Maybe video production, or maybe you outsource that.
  • Training skills: depending on your level you may train users hands on, or train the trainer, or your training could be at a higher level and focus on business benefits for managers.
    • Design of online training materials/tools/courses. Again potentially outsourced, but it helps if you know what can be done and what kind of online experience you want your users to have.
  • Analytics/monitoring:
    • Design/selection of metrics
    • Potentially, use of metrics software, depending on the platforms you are using
    • Presentation of metrics: BI.
  • Networking: building a network of champions/ supporters.
  • Psychology: what motivates people in the workplace.

I’m sure there’s more but that’s what occurs to me now.

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Eric Mullerbeck
Information Management Specialist
UNICEF
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Eric –

Thanks.   I couldn’t agree more that communication skills are essential.  I’m thinking that understanding how people process communication (What is in it for me?) as well as techniques for communication (inverted pyramid et all) are things that I can train quickly and effectively.  (BTW- See my communications series for some of the things that we make available for everyone is at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLX_RBvRJUp5goGDEz9m6QDjguAyLlXh3g)

I also agree that you need a huge dose of psychology to be effective.  I think that “What is in it for me?” as well as understanding that we’re not actually rational beings.  Are there other aspects of psychology that you think are critical?

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Robert,

Regarding psychology and change management, clearly this could be a huge discussion all by itself, and I’ve done no more than dip my toe in the water. There’s a model of workplace motivation by Daniel Pink, which states that intrinsic motivation (what drives people to independently want to work) includes 3 factors: autonomy (desire to be independent and direct your own work), mastery (desire to improve and be your best) and purpose (desire to contribute to something bigger than oneself, or make a difference).

Information management has challenges with this model: typically, we want to create structures that direct others work (challenge to autonomy), and which they sometimes find hard to learn (challenge to mastery). We’ve had some good results emphasizing the ‘purpose’ aspect, as good IM really does help the organization achieve its mission, and most people can understand how.

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Eric Mullerbeck
Information Management Specialist
UNICEF
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Eric –

There’s definitely an opportunity for a session in and of itself.  One of the problems with psychology is providing tangible activities that we can use to reinforce the learning.

I’m familiar with Pink’s work.  My review of Drive is at https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2011/07/11/book-review-drive/ I think that we aren’t necessarily conflicting with autonomy by creating systems.  For that you have to look at the way that Robert Florida defined the creative class (in Rise of the Creative Class, review at https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2018/10/15/book-review-the-rise-of-the-creative-class-revisited/)  Creativity (it’s own large topic) isn’t about having no boundaries, it’s having space to be creative within boundaries.  Autonomy is the same thing.  A truck driver is given an address to deliver a package to but given freedom to choose the route, that’s autonomy.

Mastery is it’s own thing which could lead into a discussion of our ego and how it lies to us.  Here the best I’ve got without descending into the rabbit hole is that we need to remember to tell people they’re doing a good job.

On the purpose front, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why is a good start (https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2017/04/24/book-review-start-great-leaders-inspire-everyone-take-action/)  but purpose is highly contextual and personal so other than recognizing that we need to connect individuals with purpose it’s hard to convert purpose into a way of driving a change initiative forward.

I also find that getting barriers out of people’s way is KEY to success.  Demand has good coverage of this (https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2012/03/23/book-review-demand-creating-what-people-love-before-they-know-they-want-it/)

The big trick is to find a way to distill which of these powerful concepts are essential — and which ones are the icing on the cake.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Robert, very interesting, thanks for the thoughtful response and links.

It’s refreshing to hear your thoughts on autonomy and creativity. I still feel that in the IM context there can be major challenges for this particular ‘nexus’ of psychology, especially when it comes to things like records management. RM really does not allow much space for creativity; you have to learn a classification and use it; it’s often foreign, and you can’t push the boundaries (at least, not easily, though in my organization we are trying to leave the door as open as possible for input, comment and discussion on records classification).

It’s a little different with other aspects of IM, for example, creating digital spaces to work with information. Clearly there’s plenty of space for (bounded) autonomy and creativity there.

On purpose: I understand what you’re saying about purpose being contextual and personal. But some organizations are purpose driven, so the purpose element is almost a given. In such cases the challenge is to ensure that your leveraging of the organizational purpose is genuine: you have to really demonstrate that the change you’re pushing really will contribute to the shared purpose that’s already there in the organizational context, and often you’ll have to convince some intelligent skeptics.

Re distilling the essential: psychology of change at the individual level might be more of an advanced course/’icing on the cake’. Group psychology/organizational culture could be a more appropriate place to start. Again that comes down to understanding your organization, how change happens, how it is driven, plus some basic principles like a ‘critical mass for change’, the value of champions, the value of peer support, and so forth.

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Eric Mullerbeck
Information Management Specialist
UNICEF
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Eric  –

Re: Convergence of autonomy/creativity and structure – Agreed, there are places where we have to follow the rules — everyone appreciates it when we drive our cars on the correct side of the road and obey traffic signals.  That doesn’t stop us from choosing destinations.  In your record example, certainly identification is a relatively well defined item.  However, what you create that becomes a record isn’t always specified.

Re: Purpose – Agreed, ideally you’d connect the personal mission and the organizational mission but I don’t think that happens all the time.

Re: Psychology of change – I probably do need to talk about critical mass and viral campaigns — thanks.

Rob

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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To be bilingual!  See attached!

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Richard Molique
ECM Consultant
IQ Business Group, Inc.
804-614-6445
rmolique@…
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When I was working as a change manager, once of the interesting aspects was the change curve – looking at when people give up their current position/attachment to the “now” and start to adopt and accept the “new”.

https://www.insights.com/resources/coaching-people-through-the-change-curve/

Taking people through that journey meant understanding what was holding them back, what they were unable or unwilling to let go of – and it is often something very simple, such as “my file plan”, and fearing that in the new environment they would feel incompetent, or stupid, if they didn’t fully understand how to do their jobs as quickly or as easily (in their view) as they had before.

So some key skills, to add to the lists already provided:

  • Asking questions and being prepared to take any answer
  • Listening to the answer and taking it for what it is – i.e. the perception of the user – without judgement
  • Being prepared to be challenged – and being able to challenge back

Interesting thread, I think all successful IM is a change management exercise, so we can all learn to do this better.

Madi

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Madi McAllister CIP
Information Governance Officer
National Institutions of the Church of England
United Kingdom
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Madi –

Thanks.  I hadn’t seen the change curve.  That’s interesting.

I think your response crystallized that I need to be helping folks understand that we’re all still mostly fear driven (whether we like it or not.)  Helping folks seek what fears that others might have is an aspect of learning to think about what they’re hearing.

It also clarified the understanding vs. acceptance that happens.  Understanding is judgement free.  Acceptance (or approval) is judgement-based.  Helping folks understand the difference is important.

On the questioning side, the best work I’ve seen on that was in Motivational Interviewing (https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2017/01/02/book-review-motivational-interviewing-helping-people-change/)  There are a few good techniques in there that are quite teachable for helping folks ask better questions.

On the challenging side, I’ve always felt like challenging required a bit of personal fortitude.  I’m not sure how to teach that.  Amy Edmonson’s The Fearless Organization (https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2019/06/24/book-review-the-fearless-organization-creating-psychological-safety-in-the-workplace-for-learning-innovation-and-growth/) talks about cultivating this sort of thing but I didn’t think she accomplished her objective of really providing a way to do it.  There are other works like Find Your Courage (https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2015/09/28/book-review-find-your-courage-12-acts-for-becoming-fearless-at-work-and-in-life/)– but they’re not very tactical either.

I’d appreciate any further thoughts you have about what sorts of exercises might help people understand these core skills.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Madi,

Very interesting reply!  I haven’t thought about the idea that all successful IM needs or is CM.  I do think about it when introducing something new.  I also think similarly when presenting to-be architecture because it is proposing something new.

I like the way you focused on some important aspects and the plain language you used — when I quickly jotted down my original list in my mind I was including most of these aspects in understanding the process, interviewing, communicating vision and change, understanding the culture of the org and how they respond to change and yes the individual stakeholders that will be affected too.

In looking at the various responses in this thread – it seems like there are two themes:  the theoretical (e.g.,motivation theory) and applied aspects of CM.  I’m more of an applied person even though my approach definitely takes into account some of the psychological, social, cultural aspects.  That comes from my UX background in experiential computing and years of convincing (or trying to convince) others to do something different. 😉  Maybe another important skill to add to the discussion is empathy which I have found critical in UX or frankly in any work I do.  I don’t know why I didn’t mention that earlier.

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Laura Downey, PhD
Branch Chief, Applied Architecture
TSA
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Hi Robert

I found this article very interesting, one of the points at the end about being a “people person” isn’t always that easy for some of us!

https://medium.com/indian-thoughts/4-simple-actions-to-influence-change-6a0b9e003b50

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Linda Brooks, CIP
Consultant
LMB Consulting
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Linda –

Thanks.  One of the things that a few of my friends know is that I don’t like people.  I like persons.  That is consistent with being an introvert but it applies more broadly.  I love being able to consider everyone’s point of view — or at least try to learn about it.

It’s funny to me that there’s so much written about change but so little about what the key skills are that we should know.  It’s like there’s no learning path for it.

Rob

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Hi Robert,

This is a topic close to my heart. I have presented short sessions to IM professionals at conferences on this – see https://www.slideshare.net/heathertjack/getting-to-know-you-the-psychology-of-information-management – I would say that key and related skills needed include being able to understand business/audience context of the required IM change, sales skills and absolutely learning to understand, be empathic with and find the positives in people’s information personalities – see the slides on information and information change personalities in the linked presentation.

Cheers
Heather

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Heather Jack
Consulting Director
HJBS Ltd
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Heather – Thanks!

I took a quick skim through and plan to spend some more time reviewing it soon.  In my quick review, it looked like a lot of framing of the challenges of overlooking the user/human aspects but not much in the way of skills development or a learning path.  Have you given much thought to what the skills are?

Rob

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Robert – good point well made – and no, I haven’t … but I will, and get back to you 🙂

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Heather Jack
Consulting Director
HJBS Ltd
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I agree with Heather’s content:  empathy and ability to manage expectations are KEY!

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Pedro Correa
Sr Business Development Mgr, Americas
Papyrus Software
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Great thread!  Interesting discussion!  Thought provoking… and thanks for the shared articles!

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Connie Prendergast
Records Management Clerk
Flagstaff County
Sedgewick, AB CANADA
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​Hi Robert,
During my experience in Information Management projects, I have seen and realized that a Change Manager must have following skills:
1. Knowledge in a Change Management Framework or Best Practices: this is very important, because a framework can help to dabble change smootly and systematically, creating less frustration among stakeholders and users.
2. Good communication: because everything or almost everything about change management is communication, so having good and clear communication is fundamental
3. Personal resilience: this is very important for me, because situations are going to happen anytime, and sometimes not in our favor,  so ability to cope with extreme stress provoking events is essential.
4. Leadership: a must skill, should be someone that inspire to follow and believe in.
5. Vision: someone that has the ability that has a clear vision and share that vision with others. He or she  must work to create a common vision among all the stakeholders and users.
6. Problem solving: problems will be part of any change management process, so the ability to find a win-win solution is key.
7. Influencer: ability to influence others can help the change manager obtain better results.

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Hemaben Patel
Digital Content Management Assistant Manager
Banking Industry, Panama
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Hemaben,

Not to parrot Rob too much, however, for his purposes, the below, while certainly valid, aren’t really trainable items, with the exception of the first point, where I assume you mean Prosci or similar.

Aria

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Aria Business Card-۱۰


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Hi Lorne,
Yes, like Prosci or Change Acceleration Process.
And yes, I am agree with you that others are not properly trainable ítems, but you still can do some kind of workshops around those soft skills.

Regards,

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Hemaben Patel
Digital Content Management Assistant Manager
Banking Industry, Panama
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While we may not be able to train all the skills necessary for change management, we could adopt the attitude that the IIM professional should be aware of all the skills necessary for a successful change project. Personally, I have followed the work of John Kotter and his 8 step model for leading change (see link below). We could train the IIM professional in basic project management skills, an awareness of all the necessary skills, and when they should be applied (see the 8 step model) to increase the success of IIM change projects.

https://www.google.com/search?q=change+management+kotter&sxsrf=ACYBGNRdifmOVgmyXKgGjQqmailM_uRW_A:1570412969194&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=qJP58-sCLDyXXM%253A%252CPAiKA9dzLjZOTM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kQWMYP7vg9RV5u-Pb65mzYFIfAYDw&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiAtbeZhInlAhVuxFkKHTf9CgcQ9QEwBXoECAYQCQ#imgrc=_&vet=1

Alan Frank


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Alan –

I agree Kotter’s model can be useful, however, it suffers from the same practical conversion problem.  (My review of Leading Change is at https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2011/07/27/book-review-leading-change/ and my review of The Heart of Change is at https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2012/02/05/book-review-the-heart-of-change/)   I outlined the ADKAR approach and my thoughts in a post on Successful Technology Change (at https://www.thorprojects.com/blog/archive/2019/04/17/successful-technology-change-and-adkar/)   It’s very early thinking on what I’m trying to figure out how to do effectively in this training.

You’ll see that even in that post I’m struggling to get all of the pieces together and to prioritize them to just those things that are essential.   There are so many things that are helpful.  It’s hard to discern what would be necessary for success.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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My suggested list of “must have” attributes for successful change manager:
1. Empathy
2. Listening
3. Consensus building/negotiation
4. Behavioral Economics’ knowledge
5. Process/case modeling & optimization

All the best,
Pedro

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Pedro Correa
Sr Business Development Mgr, Americas
Papyrus Software
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Here’s an example of where abstraction fails to address the problem ��.

Rob’s original requirement wasn’t/isn’t about “attributes” (which I agree these are appropriate attributes).  Rather, it was about “skills” being defined as repeatable, practicable, behaviors and understanding to be able to be applied to new and/or recurrent needs and issues that could be successfully trained (having a different connotation that “taught”).

Unfortunately, I don’t see your list as meeting that need.  I think it “informs” it, but does not meet.

Aria

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Lorne –

Fair points… but what I can do with Pedro’s response…

1. Empathy -> Teach the ability to see multiple perspectives.  (Bimodal images are great for this.)
2. Listening -> I can teach the active listening skill.  (I love teaching with Argyris’ Ladder of Inference.)
3. Consensus building/negotiation -> Conditions for dialogue (Safety et all; Issacs’ work)
4. Behavioral Economics’ knowledge -> ??? I’m not sure I understand or agree here.
5. Process/case modeling & optimization -> I can teach lean principles though I tend to separate OpEx and true change.

It’s crazy how difficult this is to translate into skills.

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Robert Bogue
President
Thor Projects LLC
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Hi Robert, I use the ADKAR and the Kotter Change Models. They are bit theoretical but I work with the concepts and try to apply to my organisation.

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Sonia Rees
OECS
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Sonia,

The Kotter work is from a large number of case studies and interview. Personally I don’t regard it as theoretical. However, measuring things like “Executive Engagement” can be problematic. When working with dimensions like “Executive Engagement” I look for two activities.

  1. The Executive must be regularly communicating with the impacted organization
  2. The “Management and Staff” Performance Evaluation dimensions must include some measures of their contributions to the change plan, execution, and results/success.

While the measurement of other dimension of the Kotter model can be also be troublesome I have always looked for interviews of employees including an discussion of how the change impact their work. The more clearly the employee can illustrate their involvement in the change the greater the amount of success.

The one experience that I have found extremely reliable, is that when I’m thrown into an organization, as a consultant, and I am the only person working full time – the amount of success is marginal unless there is a specific issue that impairs the organization efficiency and/or effectiveness or there is a specific person whose attachment to legacy process impairs the adoption of a new process/best practice.

Are there any commonalities you find in your successful projects?

Alan Frank

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