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Change Management Times 3

The best approach factors in massive resistance

By Tara Swords

Fall 2018

When Steve Phillpott and his team decided to move the entire company to a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, they thought they understood what they were up against: thousands of users set in their ways and accustomed to the systems and processes they had been using for years. So Phillpott’s team developed a robust change management plan that included communication early and often, as well as comprehensive training on the new system.

It wasn’t enough.

“People are creatures of habit, and you’re basically changing every single person’s reality,” Tina Mashiko says. “Even if they have a report that doesn’t really work for them, it’s their report. You might be giving them new bells and whistles and better data to make decisions, but you’re still changing things, and people don’t like that.”

That’s why, Mashiko says, the new standard approach to managing change takes into account humans’ massive resistance to it, even at the risk of overestimating that resistance. The team has now developed detailed change management plans not just for the overall project, but also for each phase of the project—even for the various subphases that make up each of the four phases.

“You need to take whatever time you’re planning for change management and multiply it by 3,” she says. “Do not underestimate the need for change management.”

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