Communicating the Transformation

In addition to the tough challenge of delivering transformation successfully, we need to recognize that every successful IT or business transformation initiative has done a great job with communicating the strategy shift to their employees, business partners and vendors. You probably know the answer to what every failed
transformation project has done wrong ... they have ‘botched” or done a poor job at communicating the
transformation and its implications for the organization.
If the objective is to align delivery and behaviors with the new strategy, then the team has to provide enough details and content and consistently inform the team of the strategy and how things are going to perform differently. You need to consider and communicate much more than "change is coming" or "transformation is on the way!"
The silver bullet of effective communication does not exist. But, there are some lessons that are extremely helpful when considering how to prepare and deliver a communication strategy and content around
transformation. It’s hard to get everyone ‘on the bus,’ but let’s examine a couple of key lessons and the reality of ignoring the communication challenge:
  • Assign ownership of the communication strategy. As simple as this sounds, it often does not happen. A good plan includes a plan for communication and change management, with a named owner. My experience has been that this is often ignored or reduced when the estimates for delivery come in and then it surfaces again when the team is ready to deliver. Don’t skip this step and don’t skimp oncommunication delivery. The adage of ‘over communicate’ rings true every time!
  • Make sure the message is consistent. Some good projects get derailed when the message misses the intent of the transformation. Write the standard messages, including not just the strategy, but go ahead and create the Q&As you know will be coming throughout the life of the initiative. Better to pre-think the questions and your answers than be stuck with a tough topic and no clear answer.
  • Segment the Receivers. Figure out your audiences by breaking them into groups or roles and what their view may be. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an audience member and find out what they may need for communication. In today’s world, a video may be much better than an email distribution, so think about the media used as well!
  • Monitor results. Teams will often spend a ton of time and resources crafting the communication material and the messages, send them out, and then do nothing, assuming all is fine. Don’t get caught in the trap of hearing from someone else that your communication is not working. Put in place a pro-active feedback loop that gives you the chance to capture feedback and measure how effective the communication really is. Keep it simple.
In addition to the items above, the team delivering the transformation should consider crafting communication materials that focus on ‘what’s in it for me.' This means customizing the material and key messages to each employee, the business and vendor partners, enabling them to understand what is going to happen and the specific impact on them. Not only does this help drive a consistent message, it might just identify a problem with your strategy and delivery approach, way before you hit the wall with a troubled project. Use this feedback to gain valuable insight and make necessary course corrections.