Case Study: Changing Direction - Getting "Buy In" To Leave The Comfort Zone

Submitted by Rachel Shackleton

The client is a large multinational organisation in the FMCG market, employing approximately 40,000 employees globally, the organisation has several production facilities across the globe. Support services are located in different hubs in several countries to ensure 24/7 support.

Our relations with the IT security team in the UK has been for several years already. Their main function is service of internal customers through processing of requests and incidents that generally come through email or the internal communication portal, always with the main goal of protecting IT integrity for all internal customers and for the company as a whole. Due to the high volume of requests individuals within the team were tending to process incidents quickly without thinking about the medium to long-term impact, rather putting the main focus on emptying the “inbox” and crossing incidents off their to-do lists. In other words, looking for a quick fix rather than managing customer expectations and taking longer to identify the root cause and find the right approach to support a medium to long term solution. This approach was perceived by their customers as inflexible, lacking broader thinking and ineffective as the solution implemented often required re-work, greatly affecting productivity.

The agreed solution was to transition work processes from being KPI driven to providing robust, long term solutions which are well thought through. This approach required the team to move into longer term thinking providing solutions that often take longer to generate and implement, but deal with the root cause. Customer education about the benefits of the change in approach was critical to making this transition effective. Ultimately the broader, better-thought-through approach was designed to free up time for other issues requiring attention, as well as limiting the amount of rework due to short term fixes. Both strong benefits for the customer that helped in convincing him or her who was expecting a solution to the problem “tomorrow”.

The solution proposed and implemented included several key approaches:

  • Create clear goals for the department that support the change and the “right” message
  • Education of team members on how to manage “quick fix” customer expectations proactively
  • Improved teamwork to generate solutions
  • A change in KPI’s used to measure individual work effectiveness.

In order to include the key approaches, there were several stages to this project:

  1. Working with the department director to ensure clarity of the message to be delivered
  2. Coaching of the department director to support the change process during implementation
  3. Workshop with the whole team
  4. Two follow-up ½ day workshops that would assess the status of change and re-visit any points necessary

The workshop for the management team addressed the change of direction through broader thinking, communication and teamwork within the team. This was combined with training to develop active use of mental agility, openness and ownership to find the “right” solution that would bring not only the desired result in terms of fixing the problem, but would also have long term sustainability.

Specific outcomes expected from the workshop were:

  • To agree common goals to make the transition effective
  • To get team “buy in” and commitment to the change of approach
  • To communicate openly within the team to find the right solution in each case
  • To demonstrate agile and flexible thinking that is out of the box
  • To create an action plan that has been agreed by all to transition from the current status to the desire status of ownership, agility and customer focus

The workshop included several key moments, all supported with exercises and/or role play:

  • Gaining agreement on a common understanding of “openness”, “agility/flexibility” and “ownership” and understanding how they can be applied in individual job roles
  • Understanding of “comfort zone” and reasons why we create this zone and are hesitant to leave it when change is necessary
  • The change process – where we are now and where we want to get to. Reasons why we want to achieve the new set of goals. The role of individuals in this process
  • Identifying fears and concerns that are causing blockages within the change process. Addressing those fears and concerns.
  • Brainstorming on the algorithm to assess incidents and problems that would be used to make decisions
  • Working with the customer to buy time by educating them on the benefits of a longer-term approach
  • Application of Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats to use for discussing problems from different angles and to find the ultimate solution

After the workshop there were two ½ day sessions planned to follow up on progress made against the original objectives and to provide support to discuss challenges and problems encountered. Due to internal changes only one of the workshops was accomplished.

Overall Result 

The team responded well to needed changes seeing the benefits for themselves in the medium to long term. In the short term there was some hesitancy due to the need to educate the customer and the likely pressure they will experience until such time that the customer sees the benefit to them of a root-cause solution.

The first follow up showed a shift in thinking, greater openness with each other and a greater tendency to share issues and problem-solve together. They were using Six Thinking Hats, but not as much as hoped, tending more to logical left-brain thinking, which was not always achieving the desired results.

Education of the customer was in progress and results depended very much on the urgency and importance of the task for the whole company, as well as the customer attitude. In general, it was felt the education was showing positive results and this was expected to continue.

Department manager who himself had attended the training, was active and supportive of team members. Meeting regularly with each person to discuss difficulties and progress he actively encouraged the change in attitude and behaviour.

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