Change Analytics

Change is hard

Businesses are starting to make their use of big data a competitive advantage. A recent report from the MIT SLoan School of Management investigates the use of data in organisations (not just business).

In the Economist recently they reported on the use of data in social science. For instance an analysis of mobile phone records that can predict with not less than 80% accuracy where you are at any time of the day.  If you have a web site or use social media as part of your marketing you will be looking at data (analytics) to see where your money is having the most effect.

What role does data and analytics have in managing change?

Lets take up the title of the MIT SLoan report and imagine the role of data and analytics in going from Vision to Value for change (see what I did there!).

Early consideration of data and measures will help us identify critical business objectives from our Vision the change should impact, and by how much. This second part helps us define success not just in terms of having an impact — but by how much of an impact. This leads to quantified objectives which can be measured, tracked for realisation, and certified as having been achieved (or not). What are known in management jargon as SMART.

The key to successful change is delivering benefits. To know if the benefits have been delivered we need to measure them; more useful data. A lot of larger change programmes employ dashboards for benefits so that the current status of benefits can be tracked. A dashboard is an excellent example of an analytics interface.

Clever Analytics for Change

The real impact for data and analytics for change comes down to the change team building a dashboard to manage their day to day work in delivering change through changing behaviours. I have seen one of these dashboards and I was impressed with the thought and detail behind it. I was mostly impressed by how the whole system was designed to make the change team more effective. It worked like this. The change manager analysed the outcomes (changes in business behaviour) needed to deliver the benefits. For each outcome he identified pre-cursor behaviour changes and so on back to training outcomes. He then set about finding measures that could be easily captured for each behaviour to understand both the extent to which it was being adopted and who was adopting it.

For instance. To improve the performance of staff interfacing with customers the staff were given training on new processes to increase sales. To help staff adopt the new processes their managers would coach them to achieve increased targets in sales using the processes. All managers right through the hierarchy were given training on coaching. Senior managers would then coach next level managers who would in turn coach front line staff. There are three things to measure here: the performance of sales (against previous monthly and annual figures); the number of staff using the new processes; the number of managers being coached and using coaching. The sales data were already being collected. Staff use of new processes was measured through data captured in the CRM system. The impact of coaching was measured by each member of staff (managers and front-line staff) reporting monthly on the number of coaching sessions they had received with their manager. The sales performance was a lagging indicator of the impact of the change (the new processes). The number of coaching sessions was a leading indicator of changing behaviours.

The dashboard quickly identified which parts of the management chain were taking the changes on board and which were dragging their feet. This enabled the team to focus on specific parts of the organisation to push through the change and support reluctant managers. Using other measures of the sales process the team also noticed anomalies: such as an increase in the number of telephone sales calls which was an intended effect of the new processes, but that this was not reflected in the data reported in the CRM system. This identified an issue with the use of the CRM system by staff — they were not recording customer contacts. The change team then devised a coaching intervention which front-line managers could use with staff to motivate the use of the CRM system.

The collection of data and its use to drive decisions is part of the way organisations work; or it isn’t. The company described above make extensive use of data and analytics to run their business so it seemed natural to use the same techniques for managing change. In my experience this is exceptional. What is your experience?

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