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(Part IV) Applying Eight-Step Methodology to Utility Projects

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

Emails are weak by themselves; so, they had to be backed up by other communications activities where the Project Sponsor showed his face to the most affected stakeholders.

After creating email content, we sold the Project Sponsor and the Executive Sponsor on the following plan:

Thursday before:

The Executive Sponsor was known for rarely sending email to anyone besides his direct reports and we used this to our advantage. The team requested that he send a scripted message, created by the communications team and Five Forces. This message highlighted that the next week’s email campaign is a new method of communication, it is a first for the utility and an event to pay attention to. The message we drafted for him communicated expectations that team members should read the emails and provide feedback to the Project Sponsor and Five Forces.

Week of:

The Project Sponsor sends out our crafted emails at exactly 9:30 AM Monday – Friday. Monday – Thursday talks about the importance of the change initiative, and Friday reiterates a need for feedback from the recipients.

Each email invites direct feedback - regardless of the reader's position within the utility.

Week after:

The Project Sponsor and our OCM consultant make scheduled appearances with selected stakeholders, especially targeting those who would use the software the most. In these meetings we read the room to see if there is any overt resistance, body language, or voiced concerns which can be addressed.


Some Unexpected Results

Step 7 of the Eight-Steps is “Not letting up.” It is about this point in any OCM campaign that leaders need to remind themselves to follow through, and that no one else is going to do it for them. The communications team and Five Forces were at this point when attempting to get agreement on a messaging plan from the Project Sponsor and Executive Sponsor. Getting there required debate, multiple drafts and revisions, and enduring tempers.

Most importantly, it required strategically hitting the right tone at the right moment. OCM requires leadership without authority, so, we used our words and our ability to support leaders with authority to achieve Change Readiness.

With the support of the communications team, we ensured the emails were 150 – 175 words to avoid “TLDL” syndrome (Too Long, Didn't Read).

To this end, the Executive Sponsor—despite agreement with the plan—went rogue at the last minute and wrote an exhaustively long message, which touched on some of the points we asked him to. This set us back in our objectives, but we were not done. We encouraged the Project Sponsor to stay the course, and thankfully he did – except on Thursday.

That day he did not send out the scheduled communication, and no one knew why. With the Project Sponsor not replying to our inquiries via emails, texts, and phone calls, we had to go on a manhunt and find him two buildings away. When we found him, we discovered that he did not forget his commitment, but wanted to change the message at the last minute. He was overthinking about what to say differently and was caught in a state analysis-paralysis. Again, there was trepidation about the word “will” in context to using the new software. No one on the Five Forces team really remembers our exchange with the Project Sponsor, but he was easy to work with. After reminding him of the benefits of our plan, he chose to stay the course we all agreed to.

By 2 P.M. the message—as we wrote it—was in everyone’s inbox.

Next: The Outcome....


Copyright © 2019 - Five Forces Consulting, Inc.

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