For most of us, we are not experts in marketing, advertising or communications. We are often technical people trying to explain and deliver sustainable value under the Asset Management umbrella. Top Management often doesn’t understand what we are trying to do is equally for them as it is for ourselves and stakeholders. The harder we try it seems the further away we are from bringing people on the Asset Management journey.
This article sets out to share and explain a simple model (Why What and How) in order to align an organization. Alignment is one of the four fundamentals of Asset Management. Why are we doing this? What is the message? How will we share the message and how will we engage with those who are needing to know? This approach is effective, simple and because it is based on principles very easy to adapt to the various situations we find ourselves in.
Everything needs to be driven by the Why!
Effective change can only be truly achieved when the Why, the What and the How come together. Most change journeys spend a great deal of effort on the communications (aka “The Comms”), but in absence of translating a genuine Why an organization is doing something, people will struggle to connect the dots, understand, and accept the journey ahead. People need to buy into a plan and invest on their own terms…(Whether we like it or not..We are all human!)
The above hierarchy forms the basis of the Structured Change Framework (SCF). This is a simple model for addressing complexity. The idea is that the decisions at the top of the triangle drive the effort and the alignment required below.
Messaging is about converting stakeholder needs (and wants) to value proposition(s). It is about articulating the Why in a manner that is clear and appealing to the majority (or perhaps minority). Messaging is usually biased in one of two ways…Cost or Revenue.
If we expand this by leveraging the notion of “Achieving the desired balance of Cost, Risk, and Performance” [ISO55000] as the basis for change, most people can understand and accept the Why.
Risk is a great stage in which to convey stakeholder needs. If we then invite innovation (Opportunity) from within the organization and we involve people, we are half way there in creating a balanced, positive tension to keep the journey moving forward and on track.
“The market has changed in recent months. Our currency is trading stronger and due to this our market is decreasing”.
“Our competitors have invested substantially in technology. We need to explore innovations in our operations”.
“Due to the increased demand for our product, our assets are being worked harder than they have ever been worked”.
“We look to merge with another organization. This will open the door to share strengths and learnings”.
“Fuel prices look to increase shortly. We have ridden the wave of luck for some time, but now we need to focus on innovation”.
The WHY tells the story behind a decision to do something.
When we understand the Why and have the value propositions understood we can then move on to converting the messaging to communications. This is both art and science, but the balance should be considerate of the stakeholders and the change ahead.
Communication should be clear and concise. Ambiguous communications can create more angst than no communication at all. Clarity in the communication is an invisible line directly back to the leadership of an organization.
A good practice for constructing communications is the S.M.A.R.T. method. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.)
“Commencing on the first day of next month the Engineering department will convert to a Request for Engineering process. This will support Engineering in understanding their work pipeline (Capacity) but also assist Engineering as the business will need t0 specify the work in which Engineering is to do. (Capability)”.
“Commencing on the first week of next month we are requesting Operations to assist Maintenance with light touch Maintenance tasks. This will provide us with a better understanding of risks before they become issues.”
The upcoming merger with Company X will occur on the first of next quarter. This is a strategic move to strengthen our market position. There are no anticipated impacts to headcount and we see this as an opportunity to grow our organization”.
With an understanding of Why we are changing and the communication outlining What will change, we are now set to inform (engage) the organization. Will it be via poster (hands off), email (push), Toolbox meeting (many to many), Town Hall (one to many) or perhaps a dedicated person(s) physically engaged across multiple sites?
Each organization is different in how they share information and engage. For example, an organization that has “fly in and fly out” (F.I.F.O.) workers or a routine shift pattern may result in people never meeting other workers. Perhaps the organization has multiple sites and in multiple countries. Perhaps there are language barriers to consider?
A Communication plan should always specify how the information will be shared and how management will engage throughout the change. Hence a “Communication and Engagement Plan” invites more people to help design the change ahead.
Change cannot be done at arm’s length!…Change is about people and therefore must involve engagement, care, and commitment.
Toolbox meetings, One to one sessions, Departmental briefings, Roadshows, Safety walks, Town halls, Emails, Face to face (One to one) or Posters.
If the Why, What and How are aligned to value in any way, you have the recipe for success!
- The WHY must be understood before moving ahead with a change.
- Failure to acknowledge the WHY is planning to fail. WHY is the basis for messaging!
- WHAT is the communication, and it aligns directly to the WHY!
- HOW is the foundation for engagement!
- Use the S.M.A.R.T. standard as a test for communication!
- Communication that aims at everyone will miss more people than a communication aimed at a defined audience.