Who Should be on Your Change Readiness Team?
There are three distinct groups of individuals who play key roles in the success of a transformational change.
- Core team: Those creating and executing the plan and securing members from the next two groups.
- Sponsors: Leaders within the impacted groups responsible for driving change by members of their respective groups.
- Champions: Actual users who will provide feedback on the user experience and evangelize the message to their peers.
All participants are change agents, which is essentially any individual who participates in driving a change within an organization.
To insure a successful transition for the groups impacted by the changes, you will need a core team that supports execution of all activities. Ideal candidates for these roles must be comfortable with ambiguity, especially in an Agile environment, and willing to challenge the status quo.
|Role||Responsibilities / Activities|
|Manager / Team Lead||
Representatives from each sales business unit.
Representatives from each ancillary team impacted (i.e. order management, product management, legal, contract management, etc.)
These are the leaders within each impacted organization, at all levels, that will help drive the change. They must be willing to meet the following criteria:
- Be active and visible participants – not just rubber stamp their name on the project.
- Feel a little pain – i.e. adopt changes in their own routine.
Primary vs Secondary Sponsors: This designation does not make a sponsor any less important than another. It simply indicates a level of activity expected.
- Primary: Most active, typically managers within the primary group(s) impacted by the change
- Secondary: Less / least active, typically higher level management, executive leadership. May need a member of this group to step in when a primary sponsor disengages or to help re-establish priorities for his/her teams.
Some activities include:
- Identify potential champions to actively participate.
- Effectively communicate and coach on objectives, benefits of adoption, and risks of not adopting the change
- Manage resistance
- Celebrate successes
- Help prioritize change requests surfaced by his/her team members
- Speaking as a champion of the project on company-wide conference calls
- Other activities as appropriate
This is the group of “do-ers” on the project. Champions are very active participants throughout the project, from advocating for change to providing input on requirements, user acceptance testing, recommending enhancements, and providing peer support, among other activities. They make up your largest, most diverse group of change agents and can have a huge influence at all levels throughout the project.
Champions are cultivated through Inception & Discover activities as well as nominations from leaders and sponsors. Not all champions will start out positive. Therefore, keep a record of their Positivity Ranking (see template). If a negatively ranked individual cannot be pivoted to positive, they do not fit the criteria for this role. This could be the case of nominees or where there is no other individual available to participate from a particular group. They are then a stakeholder and not a true champion and will require some special resistance management techniques.
Champions are the individuals who are directly impacted by the impending changes and should be a combination of tenured and new members within each group. Select a diverse cross-section from the impacted groups to be a part of this group based on the following qualities:
- Representatives from each impacted organization / region / business segment, etc.
- Tenured + New team members
- Trusted by sponsor (management) and peers; demonstrates integrity
- Vocal – asks questions, provides feedback, interacts well with peers and other team members
- Willing to participate
- Focused on the people impacted – i.e. a focus on user experience, effectively weighs benefits vs risks
Champions will need to be cultivated through promotion, discussion, and sponsor support. Many of the target groups impacted by the transformation will not initially comprehend the full impact.
Once on board, champions are not only excited about the change, but they are set to be your biggest advocates. As such, they will need a defined role and an estimate of their time commitment. So it is crucial to be clear and to keep them engaged. Below is an example of some potential activities to engage them in.
Primary role is to…
- Advocate for the change with peers and his/her team members
- Update and influence sponsor(s)
Below is a list of other potential activities, typically with set timelines. This is not an exhaustive list nor will your champions perform all of these duties. Their activity depends on the organization and the level of change.
- Requirements gathering: Provide input on documenting the As Is process, identifying gaps and pain points. Your initial champions may be subject matter experts, those actually performing the actions that the project will impact. However, not all SME’s will be champions, as they may not be advocates or excited.
- Participate in Sprint / Release demos.
- Provide feedback on solutions and user experience.
- Participate in user acceptance testing – Other end users may be part of UAT in addition to the champion(s).
- Recommend enhancements to be funneled into the backlog.
- Review and provide input on communications and training content.
Create your Change Agent Roster
Now that you have identified the types of change agents needed and where they should come from, use this template to start creating your Change Agent Roster.