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Collaboration on large change programmes

By Ant Green, Handpicked Society member

For the last few months, I have been working on a dynamic change management programme with Handpicked Society’s client, AstraZeneca. Large programmes are naturally complex. Adding a mixture of internal and external expertise from different organisations, whilst hugely beneficial, can add to that complexity. So, how do you work with that complexity, creating maximum benefits. I have written a few top-tips towards successful collaboration on large change management programmes. I hope you find them helpful.

1.    Be an advocate for your deliverables

Be sure to focus on your deliverables. It sounds basic. It is, but as priorities ebb and flow, parts of a programme can get lost. You’re there to steward and promote the programme agenda with structured, supportive interventions and ensure others know what you need from them to safeguard the required outcome. 

Create win-win situations

Create win-win situations

2.    Create win-win situations

There is no such thing as one part of a programme being more successful than another. Everyone on a programme succeeds or fails together. Joint engagements afford the opportunity for many hands to create many positive outcomes. Collaboration is vital and asking ‘how do we create the greatest benefit for the business’ is a great way to align everyone.

3.    Simplify complexity

Condense complex options in to straightforward recommendations, with clear benefits and impacts. In reality, silver bullet solutions rarely exist. Every option has pros and cons. Outline them in a clear logical and numerical way. Stick to the facts and avoid the “ifs”, “buts” and “maybes”. Also avoid acronyms. Every organisation uses acronyms, but that doesn’t mean everyone understands them and definitely don’t introduce new ones. There are too many in use already.

Collaboration is key to achieving programme objectives

Collaboration is key to achieving programme objectives

4.    Interpret and confirm

Let’s face it, every objective isn’t always 100% clear when it’s received. Understand what’s needed as best you can, interpret it and confirm your interpretation. Always measure an opportunity or decision against the desired benefit then agree it with your stakeholders, and refine it as needed until all involved are comfortable. Maintaining momentum is best achieved with regular and clear communications on what’s required and how it’s being achieved. 

5.    Adopt positive behaviours

Adopting positive behaviours that already exist in the business and embedding them in the change team is vital. As an example, ‘Working Out Loud’ is a core behaviour at AstraZeneca and it has been adopted on all sides of our change programme. It allows continuous and open collaboration between everyone on the team. Recognising and using positive, existing behaviours makes a more collegiate experience, minimising barriers between teams. 

6.    Be reflective

Reflective practise is vital and beneficial. Every day is a learning opportunity for you as a member of a large change programme and change network. Stop and think, “What did I learn today or this week?”, “What can I do differently?”, What do I need to learn?”

In summary, we’re in this together

A large complex programme with multiple stakeholders tests the steeliest of us. Remembering that we’re in this together, irrespective of role or badge and that collaboration is key, is always a good steer.

Ant Green, Handpicked Society member

Ant Green, Handpicked Society member

Ant Green, Handpicked Society member

Ant is an expert in organisational change delivery and Transformation. He prides himself in simplifying complexity and navigating change for global businesses and leadership teams.

He has broad experience in change management in Digital, Media and Pharmaceuticals industries. He has developed specific techniques for delivering Organisational Design, target operating models and establishing communities of practise. He always seeks to understand and manage the impact of change on people, capabilities, teams and platforms.

When Ant isn’t managing change, you’ll find him either at a Burning Man festival, cycling across a Middle Eastern desert or Icelandic volcano. He may even be on his Purple Triumph motoring across Canada.

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