Make It Stick

session overview

Make it Stick: Keys to Project Management and Change Management Success

by TJ Johnson, Practice development lead, Olenick & Associates &
Gina Buser, CEO & CO-founder, Traveling coaches


echnology projects are often at risk of failure if they are not understood to solve a business problem for the organisation. The trick is to identify and articulate how proposed technologies address high-level business challenges and implement those continuous improvement initiatives that provide the highest value to the organisation.

Example: A technology project was technically successful, met the requirements and passed the technical and user tests, but it wasn’t adopted because there was no actual need for the technology. It didn’t improve the current process as seen by the users, so it wasn’t used.

We see more success in technology initiatives where risk assessment, the definition of success metrics and quality assurance are done early in the project planning cycle - a “Shift Left” or “Shift Counterclockwise” of where these elements usually live in that cycle.

Assessing risk is done best before the risk is accepted, which is usually in the pilot phase. Setting quality gates with critical tests and success metrics at each project phase, involving testers early in the requirements phase, and clarity on functional tests versus user tests is even better.

Defining success for the initiative and how the technology will be used from both technical and user perspectives, also needs to be done early. Documenting how those successes will be measured and analysed to show areas of comfort or concern through every stage of the project, creates success.

An organisation can have a cutting-edge technology or an amazing process to introduce, but if people don’t adopt it, the initiative will fail. You can’t effectively change behaviour at an organisational level until you know how to effectively change the behaviour of an individual. This is where change management (CM) comes in, and CM is all about the people side of change.

The Five Building Blocks of the ADKAR Model for Successful Change Management:

1. Awareness
2. Desire
3. Knowledge
4. Ability
5. Reinforcement

People must first be aware that there is a need for change. Then you must build a person’s desire to support the change. Next, people need to know how to change, then knowledge must transfer into the ability to implement required skills and behaviours. And finally, to make the change sustainable, it must be reinforced.

Ongoing communication, education and support are also important to create a new culture and habit. When staff are engaged and energised through ongoing communications, 70% of change initiatives succeed.

Overall, you want to take a holistic approach when planning your projects. To make it stick, focus equally on the technology and the people sides of change. 

Gowling WLG Tips: How to Successfully Change User Habits and Behaviours

- Make something inconvenient or more awkward to work in the discouraged way, stopping the majority of people doing it the old way.
- Reward people for changing or helping others to change, with prizes for participation and a weekly learning challenge.
- Create a change network to involve team representatives, involved throughout each continuous improvement initiative.
- Instead of email, use videos and cartoons to explain the initiative, the benefits, how it affects people and ways it will be made available to all those in the firm.