The Top 5 Ways to Operationalize Change

Organizational changes are always difficult, but especially during a time when change seems so constant. As companies make necessary changes, it’s important to ensure that team members are equipped with the tools they need to make new initiatives and policies successful. To sustain both short-term and long-term change, it must be operationalized, which means weaving the new ways of being into your current systems and processes to make them natural and actionable for team members. There are five key ways organizations can operationalize change:

CLEARLY IDENTIFY WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE

  • The first step in operationalizing change is clearly identifying what is changing for the end user.
  • Consider what the new process requires the end user to think, say, feel, and do. This helps to identify exactly how the change might affect a team member’s experience.
  • Be sure to also identify what’s not changing. Change can be overwhelming, so it’s equally important to let your team members know what’s staying the same.

SHARE THE WHY

  • Organizational changes are implemented for a reason. Leaders can help operationalize change by communicating the objectives they are trying to accomplish.
  • Sharing the why encourages end users to understand and accept change. Helping team members connect change to a bigger picture will build support for the new processes or policies.

PRACTICE SYSTEMS THINK

  • Organizational change is no small task. It’s helpful to approach it holistically by thinking through everything that will be impacted by the change, how that affects other things within your organization, and so on—take time to dig deep.
  • To illustrate a simple example, if an organization wants team members to use disposable coffee cups instead of mugs to prevent spreading germs due to COVID-19, they should consider how the entire coffee process will change. Should the disposable cups be placed in a cabinet where team members used to find reusable mugs, or should they be kept next to the coffee pots for a visual cue? How many people are typically getting coffee at one time? What time of day? What other safety measures should you consider? How many disposable cups should be purchased based on office coffee consumption?

BUILD THE CHANGE INTO WHAT ALREADY EXISTS

  • Incorporating change into existing processes, training, and checklists will make it easily accessible for your team members and help to establish the change as the new norm.
  • This also helps team members understand that it’s not the old way of doing things vs. the new way—it’s the best way for your organization.

MAKE IT EASY FOR THE END USER

  • To operationalize change, it’s crucial to think critically about the end user from the very beginning.
  • Process mapping can help leaders think through change as the end user. Consider how to make the change as easy to execute as possible.
  • Once everything is mapped out, create checklists and tools team members can easily reference so they don’t revert to the old way of doing things.

Taking steps to operationalize change sets team members up for success and ensures that new systems and procedures are easily adopted and sustained in your organization. Change is hard—especially now—but with the right approach, it is possible.

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