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Episode 21

transformed: The Future of Strategic Change Management

Higher Digital has just published the next installment of its new audio interview feature, transformed. Every other week we interview experts on higher education, digital transformation, and the challenges and promises represented by both.

In this episode, President Joe Gottlieb welcomes Colleen Baker, co-founder and COO of Higher Digital and the creator of (SEA)change™. During the episode, Joe and Colleen revisit their findings from an in-booth poll at EDUCAUSE 2021 and dive into how (SEA)change™ can unlock the future of strategic change management.

Joe Gottlieb: (00:02)

Hello and welcome to transformed a Higher Digital podcast focused on the new whys, the new whats and the new hows in higher ed. My name is Joe Gottlieb, President of Higher Digital. And today I am joined by Colleen Baker co-founder and COO at Higher Digital, creator of (SEA)change™, the first transformation as a service offering in the industry, and on top of all that, Colleen was recently named a DCA Live 2021 Power Woman in Tech. Colleen, welcome to transformed


Colleen Baker: (01:04)

Thanks, Joe. It’s great to be with you today. What do you want to talk about? 


Joe Gottlieb: (01:09)

Well, given your immense experience in strategic change management, I really want to dive into that. I know we’ve recently announced (SEA)change™ and this podcast is not ever really about Higher Digital and our offerings, but it’s a great opportunity for us to talk about the discipline and the evolution of strategic change management, because it’s so central to success in digital transformation, which is, as you know, what we always talk about. It’s how our higher ed institutions are going to be more effective in an increasingly digital world. And that’s more effective with their strategies, more effective with their business processes, more effective utilizing technology that’s coming from vendors and it represents a lot of complexity. So really transcending all those things and having success really requires a holistic and comprehensive approach to strategic change management. So what do you say? 


Colleen Baker: (02:05)

Sounds good. Where do you want to start?


Joe Gottlieb: (02:06)

Well, let’s start with a recent poll. We were asking folks at EDUCAUSE about where they were seeing breakdowns in their IT projects. We got some interesting data and I want to share with our audience a little bit of that data. And I’m particularly interested in getting your perspective on this. We asked a basic question. “How often does each of the following issues contribute to IT project failure? Often, sometimes, or never. Those were the answer choices and the ones that we asked, it was an interesting range of possibilities. These different issues we asked people to react to, but one that came in the highest above all, the clear leader, was that “project work was not prioritized over daily work” and we all know what that’s about, but I’m going to come back to that. I want to also share though the least cited issue contributing to project failure and may have had to do with the audience and this audience. 


Joe Gottlieb: (03:07)

Remember for our listeners, if you weren’t at EDU, because it’s largely the IT teams that are in higher ed that are going there to see technologies and are catching up with networking. There are definitely some institutional administration and leadership executives there, but it tends to be a pretty techie show, right? The least cited cause of IT Project failure was ineffective change process, whether it’s waterfall agile or some other. And I would contend that the other factors that were in the middle were all factors that tend to make change management practices fail, right? Things like “was success defined and measured,” “were risks and dependencies managed.” “Was there adequate business readiness and solution adoption preparedness,” really caring for the stakeholders that were ultimately going to adopt a solution. “Did we consider enterprise architecture early enough?” And oh, by the way, one of them that was very lowly rated was “IT teams are unable to deliver due to lack of resources, skills, focus, or execution.” That one might’ve been predictable. But what did you see in this data Colleen? 


Colleen Baker: (04:14)

Yeah, I thought that was really good. The top one, I can’t say I’m too surprised, project work not prioritized over daily work, which is something that we see everyday. We see with each of our customers, the expectation for teams to figure it out, to do it all right. So we prioritize these high initiatives. We say these are important things. We assign resources. We communicate what the goals are. What were the outcomes? We have a roadmap, we do all of these things. And then when it gets down to actually executing on the work, we’re not clear as to what the priority is or we backpedal. And we see this when I call it threshing. And it’s actually, when we have team members who are working on the project work, who are, who have committed to that work, whether it be through sprints or synchronized planning, they’ve committed to do this work in that time period. 


Colleen Baker: (05:26)

And then someone screens and someone screams at someone’s boss who then screams at their boss, who then tells them to stop working and to work on this. And so then the developer stops on the project, goes over to the ticket, goes over to the defect, goes over to what it is, and they start on that and then someone else screams and then they stop working on that ticket and they go to the next ticket or they go to the next system that’s out and then they have to work on that. Then they go back to the first ticket, by the time they get back to the project, what were they even working on? And so the constant movement of a D this is code, this is the, this, there’s a lot of science behind this, a lot of detail, a lot of detailed work. 


Colleen Baker: (06:14)

And even for it like BAS and, and on the business side, data mapping, all the things that you do as part of large initiatives, especially for ERP and SIS work, all of that work, is super detailed. So when you pull them from it and expect them to go back, well, it’s going to take longer because I have to retrace the work they already started. So that’s what I call threshing. And part of what we talk about and teach management is once we have committed to work, let them finish that work, and, or dedicate some time for them to do,, their daily work, other than product work. So there’s, there’s different ways that we can manage that. But I think what’s important here., I’m not surprised by this. It happens all the time and it certainly is something that will derail your success. 


Joe Gottlieb: (07:05)

Yeah. It feels like one of the, the primary philosophical leaps or changes a leadership team and a management team have to make, to be successful with a big it project. Right. You, you have to put other things aside to prioritize it. There’s physics involved, right. And, and organizationally, we have too many triggers that are in our, you know, naturally operating systems that don’t stop that produce these distractors, these things like new tickets defects, what have you that cause people to just out of reflex, because they’re used to running a process to pay attention to them, they’re urgent. Right. And so that’s not being able to box those things out and compartmentalize the new work makes it really hard. 


Colleen Baker: (07:51)

Yeah. I think we have to go in eyes wide open to these things though. And that has to be something that we agree, how are we going to handle this situation? Because it’s going to happen. It’s got to be more than just assigning the resource. We have to help those resources know how to manage unplanned change. Right. So how, what are we going to do when this happens? Because it will happen. Right., and so helping them with that in advance,, won’t derail, you will all know what to do. Right. Well, we’ll have a plan that’s, that’s in an acceptable plan and approach to all the leadership across the board. 


Joe Gottlieb: (08:26)

What about,, there’s a couple in here, on, on stakeholders, right? So the, the business, uh, in terms of sponsorship, support, commitment,, involvement in what I would add here as, uh, training and preparation for adoption, right? There’s many points along the way where leaning in and actually really thinking about the success of your customer as a, uh, as a project team is important and often gets short shrift right. In the rush to, to ship., is that something you tend to see a lot? 


Colleen Baker: (09:05)

Yeah. I think those, those two items were particular scored pretty high., and what I’m happy about actually is that these things are now becoming aware to the team. Right., so, you know, if we assume that the majority of the folks who, who took the survey are probably on the it side and probably have worked,, as a team member at some point, it’s great., that they’re, that they’re seeing these things now as issues, right? Because I would tell you 10 years ago, they would not have cited these things as issues. So I actually, I’m very happy to see that they’re seeing that., and, uh, they’re agreeing that risk and dependencies not managed are, is a problem, right. And how, and that we need to,, and that prioritization is important., I also love that the second one project success not defined and measured is huge. 


Colleen Baker: (10:02)

That is always something that in the past and in the recent past,, folks would just skip. And when I say folks really the business side,, often, I mean the business side has to define their change. They have to determine what exactly we’re looking, what are the outcomes we’re looking for here, right. What are the pain points we’re looking to solve for?, and, you know, often we skip over that, uh, we’ll write a charter one time. We never revisit., and so I love that the project team is, is now saying, Hey, wait a minute. What, what are the pain points? They are also starting to say it and pushing back and hopefully, you know, pushing to, you know, our business to slow down a little bit and define these things. 


Joe Gottlieb: (10:51)

Yeah. One of the things, I’m glad you brought that up because it really is another one of these foundational items, what is success? And then let’s, let’s do ourselves the service of paying attention to whether or not we’re achieving success that involves measuring. Right. And it is extra work, but it would, it translates to as, as I’m sure you’ve found is that it’s what makes it all meaningful, right? If, if, if right, if, if people only reacting emotionally to the, maybe the bad outcomes or temporarily the good outcomes, right. But not in the context of a success measure, right. It’s, it’s, it’s fleeting. It comes and goes. It doesn’t, it has, I feel like it has less manifestation and, and it has less repeatability also, right. When we measure stuff, we understand how to repeat it because we get really, really objective abilities to,, acknowledge and proclaim something worked or didn’t work, and then we can adjust. Yeah, 


Colleen Baker: (11:52)



Joe Gottlieb: (11:53)

So,, I also would relate that something that we didn’t include in this list, but I’ve seen in some of our other assessments recently, is this notion that we asked a couple of questions in our assessment. One is, is up-skilling a part of your job? Is that an expectation as part of your role? Right? And then we ask another question, which is, do your team routinely build in the time needed to learn new things in the level of effort estimates in your, in your planning. And the one typically gets answered very high. Yes. Up-skilling as part of my role, the other one is typically scored very low. People tend to not build in time to the project where there’s a known requirement to get to learn something new. It might even be a process thing. It might be a technology, it might be a language, it might be an API, it could be a number of things, but that’s where, you know, putting your money where your mouth is, or like, right. Like really answering the hard questions and then seeing that through becomes important to success. All right, let’s go, 


Colleen Baker: (13:02)

Oh, I was going to say, I agree with that as well. I mean, often, you know, some of its definition of work,, right. And just not understanding, that, that too is work, learning his work, innovating his work, and then often it’s management who pushes back and says, it’s not part of work. It’s not part of, uh, and so there is a little bit,, you know, of alignment that needs to happen. And, and I hear it often. 


Joe Gottlieb: (13:31)

Okay, now that you mentioned definition of work, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m going to get all nerdy on you. So does, does it, let’s just say that a team has to learn something new to then build on that skill and apply that skill to accomplish something in, in the project, whatever the project is right. In the world of points. Does that learning amount, two points, I E part of the definition of work in addition to what can be accomplished with the skill that required some learning to be manifest. 


Colleen Baker: (14:07)

Yes. Right. So that’s how you ensure that you are planning for that time. You will assign time to it, along with all the other pieces of work. So all the other tasks and all the other things that you’re working on has to be accounted for within that sprint., so absolutely. 


Joe Gottlieb: (14:27)

And here’s where, like we talked earlier about prioritizing project work over daily work or other work, right. Guess what? It’s all work. So now if you say, oh, I have to imagine how we’re going to take this on knowing that you have X capacity to do work. Right. We need to anticipate all of it. Right. And that’s the way you blend these things. That’s the way you get real. Right. And I 


Colleen Baker: (14:51)

Think the key here is, and this is really where we see,, a lot of difficulty and these things aren’t easy. Right., these things are not easy to solve for you have tickets coming in, you have skillsets where certain folks only know that skillset. Right. But they’re also on the project., and so it’s hard to navigate these things., but, but you’re right., it is all work and we’ve, we’ve got to figure out,, how do we address all of it at the same time? And, and you gotta make time for it. You’ve got to account for it., and that’s, that’s the only way you can do it. 


Joe Gottlieb: (15:31)

Got it. So I want to now shift to the notion of a little bit of,, uh, semantics. It’s also a bit philosophical, right. But the notion of an it project you’ve, we’ve had conversations about this, where you’ve,, you actually have a bit of a, of a reflex reaction to the notion of it project, both on both sides of this. Right. We talk about it, projects succeeding or failing, and you believe that part of the definition of it project is, is to be blamed, to be understood here, take us through that a bit, break it down for, 


Colleen Baker: (16:08)

Yeah, sure., so it project by definition has a start and end date., and what that causes,, is for the team to create and solution and design for just a period of time., not intentionally, but that’s kind of what happens. Everyone’s so focused on the deliverables and the timeframe of that project,, that often things get rushed and skewed to make that deliverable. So we often see,, phase one, phase two,, you know, we don’t have time to get this done in phase one and we only have funding for this piece of the project. And so let’s get done this much and then we’ll do reporting and we’ll do maintenance. The poor help desk can worry about it later. We don’t have time., and so we end up skirting things. We ended up rushing through things because it’s a project and this is really at the core of technical debt, right. 


Colleen Baker: (17:10)

So,, when you rush things and you know what, I’m going to just get it out the door to meet my deadlines, to meet my deliverables,, uh, for that project., and then, uh, we’re going to create self we’re going to rush through it. And I swear, I’ll do it later. I’ll get back to it and I’ll fix it., and then we don’t because we didn’t get the funding, right. So everything’s kind of based around this project, end date, the start and the end date. And instead we want to switch our heads. We want to change our mindset,, to, uh, continuous improvement. Right? So what we see from a, uh, more of a product, if you think about an ERP or your learning management systems or your CRM, none of those systems are going away, right. There is no end date for your student information system. 


Colleen Baker: (18:01)

It’s not going anywhere, right. We want to actually build for the future. We want to make sure that we’re designing and building solutions so that we’re thinking through where do we want this to be in five years? And, and again, unintentionally, when you have a project that’s six months or one year, they’re really so focused on just getting that thing out for exactly what it was doing before, or just enough to make it within the year. We’re often short sighting,, or creating solutions that, that aren’t going to scale for where we want to be 


Joe Gottlieb: (18:38)

Fascinating. So too much focus on the deadline, as opposed to the duration, if we really thought about value over time, right? We’d be, we’d be a little less fixated on the deadline of delivery, right. We’d be thinking about, okay, well, cause if I, if I, if I make the deadline, which has a lot of visibility, so we know this is human nature, it’s very difficult to, to not fall into that trap. But the real point here to your point is the whole duration of the system, which these systems are big. They don’t go away. You got to think about value over time, and that allows you to think more holistically about not,, building in the technical debt by rushing,, not shortcutting architecture, let’s say with,, quick integrations versus more thoughtful, more manageable integrations., not short-circuiting the opportunity to sustain business process automation by just trying to automate what you have, right. Instead of thinking about what does the platform provide? How can I wrap my people and teams around this to exploit some automation, to elevate them to a higher, higher impact or higher efficiency or effectiveness in what they’re doing?, well, what about the it, part of this? Because the other part of this is if it’s an it project that feels like it owns it. I know you have comments on that as well. 


Colleen Baker: (19:59)

Yeah. I, you know, that’s a hard one too. I think anyone who’s been in the position of creating a digital strategy for an organization who owns the project is a little bit of a two headed snake., and so on one side you’ve got, it’s a, it’s a system and it’s a digital product and, and who manages the vendor. And so a lot of these things, it makes sense for technology to own, and they certainly do own pieces of it. Right. But,, as a whole, the change always resides with wherever the revenue is driven. Right. So,, and that’s twofold, right? One because they manage the strategy. And so therefore they’re asking for the change and to their pain for the change. And so they ultimately, they, the business side, in this case for higher ed, rarely do we see in M a I, it units organizations inside of an higher ed institution that is doing revenue that has a product of, and by themselves who selling it and actually creating revenues. So mostly it’s on the business side, that’s driving the revenue of an institution and therefore it’s their change. And so I’m it. That is not a problem for me to explain that to teams. And usually,, when you explain it that way, it breaks it down. It’s pretty easy to follow. 


Joe Gottlieb: (21:24)

Yeah. It’s funny though, how often,, it’s not handled that way. And I think, you know, some of it is a bit of default, like you were describing, well, who owns the vendor, who’s going to, who can we rely upon to get this done? But even that starts to,, Telegraph the mindset that is inadequate for success, right? It’s like, who can take care of this? So it doesn’t. So it’s, I I’m busy. I don’t, you know, I want, I just want this to happen, which is the opposite of proactive engagement. It’s like, I need this system to do work harder for me. I’ve got bigger marketing goals. I’ve got enrollment targets to hit, we’ve got to cast a wider net. We have to do this wisely with our best thinking around what our brand is at this institution and what new programs we’re rolling out. Right. That’s what then starts to get into the world of business engagement, business ownership. I want this technology to work for me. And then, and only then do you get the commitment, right? And that, and that engagement, if it’s just an annoyance that has to be suffered through, people want to delegate. 


Colleen Baker: (22:29)

I think that’s the other side of the snake a little bit. Right? So it’s, we also see business units who want to throw it over the fence, who don’t want to own their change. They want to ask for it. They want to go, you go away, you fix it, you figure it out, you prioritize it. And then when I’m ready for it, it better be ready., so we do see, we do see that I’m not seeing it as much,, over, uh, I think, I think business is, are starting to realize that digital and software is part of their responsibility., and, and,, and how we deliver our teaching and learning to students is largely digital of a digital means. And so,, they have to take some responsibility for that. And I see more and more of that now, but,, certainly there is that sense that it,, if, if things go wrong or if things are off, well, it it’s, it is fall. 


Colleen Baker: (23:26)

And what we try to, to teach the business units,, and the folks who asked for the change to own the change throughout the entire implementation. So they need to be involved. They need, they need to prioritize it. They need to determine, you know, if something else happens, what is the priority? Is it more important that you want me to fix on this ticket? Because it’s all the same people usually asking for the work. Do you want me to work on this or should I work on that? And so we got to create a process that allows them to prioritize quickly,, and give insight and feedback quickly, uh, and so that they’re participating and that it is getting the feedback they need to move forward to build it out. 


Joe Gottlieb: (24:09)

Makes sense. So we, I want to shift now to, to change management is working effectively. We could unlock some really amazing benefits, and I know you’ve, we’ve had some great fortune working with a variety of customers in higher ed, where we really have experienced,, some exciting successes that, that, that weren’t just, you know, luck that came from hard work. It came from the stuff that we’re talking about. So, uh, I’m gonna, I’m going to go off of each of these in, in, in, uh, actually a reverse order here, but one of them is,, let’s start with alignment. So strategically aligning or institution within three months is something we believe is very, very possible and actually should be a critical objective. How, how does, how does alignment factor into this and how do, how do we see it working in the context of change management? 


Colleen Baker: (25:09)

I think,, kind of twofold one., we have a product that we leverage internally to help us on most of our engagements,, called see results. And it really does a quick alignment. It’s, it’s an assessment that helps us to determine very quickly exactly where that institution’s strengths and weaknesses are, and then where we need to focus our prioritization and our time based on that data. So it gives us some quick feedback and helps set us, focus us in the right,, in the right position. Because often when you go into a customer or a new engagement, they don’t often know what’s broken. They, you can ask them for pain points and you can also ask them for,, what their outcomes are. And you’ll get a different answer from every work stream. Registrar has different problems than admissions and so on and so forth. 


Colleen Baker: (26:05)

And so having something that collects data across an institution to right, set that and to help us focus, where is, where are the problems really has been really helpful? So that’s one I would say., and then the other is just,, enforcing quick alignment and what I call strategic,, synchronized planning, I call it synchronized planning. So we, we synchronize our teams and we synchronize our business leaders and across the board. So they’re, we’re all working, uh, under the same premise of what’s important of what the priorities are., but we’re also identifying risks and dependencies together and managing those. So we’re synchronized across the board,, as leveraging that data 


Joe Gottlieb: (26:54)

And that, for that to work, it requires that these participants come together. I mean, the, the, the, the, and, and they do engage. And now I know one of the keys is helping them to see where they can plug in. So it’s not that every role player in the organization has to be present at every meeting that would be impractical, but instead, how does the process reach out and pull in the right level of engagement? So we can achieve this alignment as efficiently as possible, and then, and then flex it, leverage it as we come into new information over time. Right. That’s okay. 


Colleen Baker: (27:33)

And it’s about repetition, right? So the more often we do that,, we’re able to repeat it. We’re able to repeat standards,, across all of those teams. So it’s easy for them to replicate, keep consistent and keep them alignment. That’s the synchronized side of it. 


Joe Gottlieb: (27:51)

And so it would seem that that would maybe lead to another big claim that we’re able to make, which is improved productivity and morale. So what, how do those things show up in the context of this discipline? 


Colleen Baker: (28:04)

Well, I mean, the first issue everyone’s cited, right, was that thrashing that back and forth, not knowing that’s not a good environment. I’m telling you, I work with teams that, that, that live in that, that, that don’t have priority that feel overwhelmed every day. That’s not good. That’s not good morale, right? And so where we, whenever we can get alignment leadership,, shows that they care leadership is involved. Leadership is providing that feedback on the business side to our it teams and project teams is huge, right? And it does help morale because they know what they’re working on. They know what their expectations are from them, and they can actually get things out the door and deliver. There’s nothing worse than working on something that just feels like we’ll never get delivered or never go away. And what we want to do is, you know, teach the organization on how to optimize their communication and delivery processes. So we actually get things out the door,, and they’re adding value right away. 


Joe Gottlieb: (29:09)

I think I just, I love this. The, the me, there’s this triangle of things, alignment, productivity, and morale, they’re so related, right? And so by, by making the effort to engage the right folks so they can play their role in the project such that alignment to accomplish. And that synchronized ongoing planning is, is persistent. You, you, you get things done, right? Because people are given now very clear direction on what to get done. And when you start getting things done and you know, you’re not cutting against the grain because you’ve been forced to make bad choices about what to do. Morale goes up, right? Like it just good things happen. So love it. And that, that then translates to you. If that all that’s true, you ought to be able to increase your digital investment. Well, you could certainly increase your, your confidence in making digital investments, which might lead to even increase the investment. And you should be able to lower your costs. You should be able to be more efficient with all the, all your effort. That’s, that’s engaged in this model. We find that as well, 


Colleen Baker: (30:20)

Those are two primary outcomes. And, and I, if you’ve ever been in the hot seat,, at an executive board or C level,, who’s spending millions of dollars for an SIS upgrade., they want to know what they’re getting, right? They want to know what they’re getting for this expense. We’re paying millions of dollars. What is it going to fix? And then to be able to come back and say, it did fix these things because we’ve been measuring and tracking it, we know the progress, and we can show,, for certain where that value has added and also how we’ve lowered the cost and how we’ve impacted the overall process. That’s huge, right? Because normally you’re in the hot seat and you’re kind of like, well, uh, we were hoping that, you know, this was going to get done, but that, you know, pushed to the next phase or whatever. And we want to change that narrative. We want to make it more about,, you know, having those metrics right in front of us. So we can speak with some confidence,, and we can walk away. And the, and the folks who are paying for it can walk away feeling good about their investment. 


Joe Gottlieb: (31:32)

And I would add, right. It’s it takes what happens instead. I E. And the abs of data, you have myths and legends about projects like, oh, people might fixate on what went wrong. I know we’ve spent all that money and all that time, and here we got this, and I’m going to complain about that right now. Well, both good and bad. When you measure, when you do this with more discipline, you learn about what worked and what didn’t, you can be more explicit about the things that you want to repeat and the things that you want to change and adjust. Right. You’re also quite right. And one of our advisory board members recently,, use the word assurance to talk about this. You, you have much better answers when you, when you ask the question, what did I get for this? Right. Like, and, and, and, and therefore, would I do it again, or will I do it again when I need to reinvest in three years to refresh this, for example, or address this other module that I want to bring on board. So that brings us to the, the, the Uber claim that we have become confident in making that with an strategic change management process, you ought to be able to increase your project success rates by 30 to 50%. Give me something to sink my teeth into on that one. 


Colleen Baker: (32:50)

Yeah. I mean, I think what we’ve been talking about this whole time is really what are the issues that we’re seeing with projects? Why do they fail?, and then we’ve been coming up with some solutions on what works, but I can tell you, you know, change,, change typically happens from fast learning cycles and,, and repetition. So change happens when we are getting customer feedback. Customers are involved,, and customers, uh, have defined success and they know what they feel successes., and they are part of it all the way they own their change., and then we replicate good standards, right? So we’ve got good processes and good standards, those best practices that we’ve determined for that institution. And they’re able to repeat those across all of the teams. So I think it’s the combination of those two things lead to that project success rate and our ability to come back and say, exactly, you know, how we’ve invested our money and what value they’ve gotten for that., because we’ve been tracking those metrics. So those two things together,, we’ve seen a lot of success in those areas. 


Joe Gottlieb: (34:03)

Do you think that for whatever the objective measurable success might be in a project, maybe that is, you know, it comes down to good KPIs that are inflow, you know, that are, that are, let’s say increased or decreased depending upon their, their type,, as a result of doing something new with a project, do we think that in addition to the objective outcome and some outcomes are better than others, let’s be clear, right? That the capability built with this approach becomes a benefit unto itself that then yields future benefits. So going through this process, building this muscle allows organizations to increase their competence. They increase their, we’ve talked about morale. A lot of things start to lift in an organization that then become very, very beneficial to future projects. Uh, would you agree? 


Colleen Baker: (35:00)

Yeah, I agree with that. Absolutely. You know, the new ways of doing things, right. We’re teaching them new ways of,, of how to communicate, how to align, how to, you know, make sure that we’re involving the right people., you know, how do we, how do we do this? What is the best way to do this, too, to make sure that change will be adopted at the end of it. And so all of these things, once they learn it, they apply it to every other project they have., and so it might start out,, you know, on the initial investment., but the long-term benefits, you know, across the board for all of their projects, they’re going to see more efficiency and lowered costs across the board. Not just, 


Joe Gottlieb: (35:47)

That’s what I love about it. In fact, as you were talking about that, it reminds me of a, you know, a little bit of a Tiffany I, I came to, which helped me think about how this works, right? The, what we’re talking about in terms of this alignment and the stakeholder engagement and the, the rule-based contribution to these projects, it really is reflected in,, a set of life cycles that one might do well to imagine as being separate but coordinated. I think of gears meshing, right? But, but on the, like we think about the life cycle of change, you know, we like to talk about assess, strategize, change, and measure, and that’s that works in our brains because it’s sequential. Okay. Assess where I am. What do I need to do strategize about what an outer prioritize it is that I’m going to do now apply that, pursue it by changing what it is that I’m doing today, and then measure the results objectively with KPIs, real hard numbers, right? 


Joe Gottlieb: (36:51)

As I continue to iterate through, well, each of those cycles tend to involve different people, usually left to their own devices. And if we can do that in a coordinated fashion, they also tend to take on they’re there they’re more appropriate to be done at different frequencies. So we like seeing assess the broad assessment being done every six months, because that’s the time every once a year just isn’t frequent enough, but quarterly is too frequent, right? So every six months is a good cycle to take stock. And where you are strategize is something that we see every two months is a frequency that we are seeing some success with because it’s just enough time to have enough things go differently in your change cycle. That it’s good to make sure you’re prioritizing. And you’ve got governance available at the ready in case you’re veering off course. 


Joe Gottlieb: (37:42)

Now your change cycles, a cycle that’s happening with the highest frequency. That’s where your repetition comes in. That’s where the, the real rhythm is accomplished. And by having that rhythm and then measuring it,, you can really start to benefit from what’s being produced. And the measure one, I think of the frequency of, of, of monthly, just because there’s so many things that get rolled up each month, there’s data available. So being able to be part of that, be participating in that so that, oh, this project can produce metrics that can be part of the measurement cycle of our monthly operations review. Let’s say that then fits. And before, you know, it, it’s what you said. This approach has permeated all the planning and execution cycles of the organization. And now is showing some new ways of working, which as you point out become your preferred method for everything well, okay. So if that makes some sense, and I want to sort of bring this to a bit of a close, so we don’t run too long, but you know, if we, if we look under the hood here, we’ve talked about benefits. We’ve talked about some of the approach. What are the, some of the key highlights of the elements of a good strategic change management process that you would have our listeners think about? 


Colleen Baker: (39:00)

Well, I would say the ones,, the ones that we end up having to highlight either because we’re not doing them, they don’t exist, or they want to do them, but they’re not sure how to go about it., I would say enterprise architecture is probably the first thing, right? Enterprise architecture, that the capability of someone looking across the enterprise to say, okay, if we make these changes, what’s the downstream impact? What are the impacts of the processes on the business side? Are we going to get the results that we want to get and doing that before we change?, not after, right. And, and hopefully we,, implementing that, that kind of,, rigor around our design and our thinking in our architecture. We’re looking at these things first., and so I would say that’s a huge one,, because that can have significant impact if we’re not doing that. 


Colleen Baker: (39:54)

So I would say that one, I think governance is important how,, how we escalate, how we make decisions, we want to move away. We know that the old school kind of approvals that every single step and phase gate,, just slows the team down and is not necessary. And so how do we get that right mix of approval when necessary and everything else flies through., and so we can keep going of getting that value out the door quickly. And so it’s a fine line and it, and it requires a lot of buy-in,, and,, a hierarchy of front and, and, uh, a, uh, guidelines on who’s going to do what, and who’s going to approve for what, how are we going to make decisions?, so I’d say that’s a really big one., let’s see here, uh, process training. So that’s a big one as well. 


Colleen Baker: (40:50)

So a lot of these, I mean, the first thing we kind of have to do is get everyone trained. So we’re all saying the same language, we’re saying the same things., so that’s an important one., and then of course, you know,, understanding the data that we get from the assessment. So as we’re taking the assessment, that’s not just for us, we use that,, on our engagements, but it’s really for the institution to understand. And,, for themselves, what are they what’s really going on in their institution, right. We’re able to benchmark things, see correlations of why things are happening in root cause analysis,, much quicker than we can in just doing interviews and discovery sessions. So I think it’s,, that one in particular is important as well. What is the data telling us so that we can make informed decisions? 


Joe Gottlieb: (41:42)

Well, I think that’s a great Roundup there, Coleen., thank you so much for joining me today and thanks to our guests for joining us as well. I want everyone to have a great day and we’ll look forward to hosting you again on the next episode of transformed.


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As president of Higher Digital, Joe supports customers with strategy development, change management, and strategic operations. He is energized by the complex challenges and profound opportunities facing higher education and is motivated to have and share discussions around these topics.

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