The Role of Planning and People in Change Communication

Effective and sustainable organizational change isn’t possible without thorough communication along the way. And such communication doesn’t occur magically. It requires in-depth planning by change leaders to ensure it is executed well to all relevant stakeholders.

This article will show how Bayside Community Libraries implemented Brighter Strategies’s Model for Change Communication in its planning and people systems. See the prior article in this series for an introduction to the model. Additionally, the first article in this series provides background on the Brighter Strategies System Diagram as a whole.

Change communication in planning

Bayside used the following guidelines, which we call a communication checklist, to ensure its change efforts were well communicated through organizational planning.

  1. Explain why the change will be implemented.

Bayside’s leaders gathered data on the changing landscape of content consumption to show declining customer use of hard copy content in comparison to growing use of digital content, and to forecast trends of future use. Leaders disseminated the information to all stakeholder groups.

  1. Explain the purpose of the change.

Bayside emphasized its mission when communicating the purpose of the change. This illustrated to stakeholders that adapting the traditional business model to evolve with new customer preferences would benefit the nonprofit’s overarching purpose. Bayside’s mission—“A book in every hand”—was upheld with the addition of more digital content and the necessary training to educate the community how to use of e-publications.

  1. Describe the strategic objectives the change will help to meet.

In article three of this series, we introduced Bayside’s three main change objectives. Bayside printed these objectives for internal and external stakeholders to review, and communicated them via newsletters and wallet-sized cards for employees. Bayside highlighted the words, Swap-Train-Promote (STP) to keep the objectives simple and easy to remember.

  • Swap one-half of existing hard copy publications for e-reader editions.
  • Train staff to show customers how to consume content electronically.
  • Promote benefits of new electronic content to the community at large.
  1. Create measurable objectives to determine whether or not the strategic objectives have been met.

Part of planning for change includes setting measurable objectives at the beginning of the initiative. These goals will help to guide the change management process, identify what success looks like, and keep you focused on the end game. For an in-depth look at measurement, see Brighter Strategies’s workbook, Outcome Measurement: From Theory to Implementation.

The acronym S.M.A.R.T. is commonly known to describe well-written objectives. Such objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. For example, Bayside set the following SMART goals for its first objective.

  • Swap one-half of existing hard copy publications for e-reader editions.
    • By January 2016, identify which hard copy titles will be eliminated.
    • By March 2016, identify to which charities these books will be donated.
    • By May 2016, choose the software conversion platform to create e-reader versions of the titles.
    • Divide the conversion work evenly among the three technology committee members, with a goal to convert titles completely within six months, by November 2016.

Change communication for people

With planning communication underway, Bayside focused on its people using the following guidelines.

  1. List the relevant individuals working on the project.

Bayside gathered a small team of change leaders within the nonprofit. This group served as the change management taskforce guiding all facets of strategic communication. At least two members of each stakeholder group (Board of Directors, employees, funders, and general public) were part of the team.

  1. List any other relevant individuals or organizations (refer to list of internal and external stakeholders).

The change team identified all stakeholders invested in the success of the change effort and built a network of ambassadors within the Bayside Community Libraries network. It focused major communications on these “change champions,” who then helped to disseminate that information to broader audiences.

  1. List the roles and responsibilities of all those involved in the change management project, from most influential to least influential.

From this list of change champions, Bayside identified each individual’s role and responsibilities in the communication process and mapped them out per the below chart.

Team member Role Responsibilities
     
     
     

 

Bayside is almost there! The next and last article in this series will show how the nonprofit executed change communication within its organizational process and performance systems.

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