T here’s a classic Shel Silverstein poem about Melinda Mae, who eats a monstrous whale. How does she manage it? One bite at a time. This was also the case with a Global 100 company that took on a project to update its information management processes in the midst of an enterprise-wide technology modernization effort. Having secured executive support for a major technology investment, they planned to “go big” and update every information management process worldwide — so that the technology rollout and corresponding content migration could take place all at once. The result was an enormous, multi-pronged project that required major organization changes, with a variety of service providers contributing specialized expertise, processes, and tools. Mixed messages and shifting priorities were apparent to project leadership and end users, potentially undermining project credibility and inhibiting productive change. Project sponsors recognized that a different approach was needed, but the scope of the project was so broad, with so many moving parts and dependencies, that they couldn’t figure out where to start.
Global 100 company found that going big led to problems with conflicting messages and priorities
The company initially engaged Access Sciences to facilitate data gathering for a new global taxonomy that would emerge from the information management overhaul. As the project became increasingly unwieldy, Access Sciences’ team demonstrated a reassuring depth and breadth of knowledge for both information management and change management. As a result, our contribution evolved from data gathering to a formal strategic advisory role. We counseled the client that internal consistency was more vital to the success of the project than scale. With this in mind, we suggested they adopt a more measured approach to project scope, tied to meaningful metrics for gauging success. In addition, we helped senior business leaders develop and align on principles of information management to provide consistent direction for their respective business units.
Leveraging our experience in project strategy development, Access Sciences helped the company establish fundamental definitions and principles to guide future project work. The principles were designed to ensure that the goals for information management would be uniformly understood and communicated across the company. They were also designed to be flexible, to allow information management to align with the company’s vision and future business practices. Establishing the principles provided everyone on the project team a common vision and a backstop for project plans. Recognizing the success of Access Sciences’ measured approach, the company incorporated our advice into their planning and scaled back its fast-paced, enterprise wide effort.
In addition to our advisory role, Access Sciences also made change management a priority for the project. While conducting data gathering interviews, Access Sciences encountered many opportunities to earn the confidence of end users. With this approach, we helped the company create a change management strategy that identified target groups that stood to gain the most from the process changes, and then engaged them directly. Where inconsistencies and conflicting goals previously created resistance to change, we helped create clear communication channels to correct misinformation and build user confidence.
Access Sciences’ recommendation for a more measured approach provided the company the opportunity to be successful without attempting to “eat the entire whale at one sitting”. Using this approach, the company was able to decide where they needed to start, and how much they could digest, before taking the next bite.
Based on the trusted relationship that we had developed with the client, we were confident in and committed to giving the advice that we thought was appropriate, and not necessarily what they wanted to hear. We didn’t give the company what they initially thought they wanted. Rather, we delivered what they needed to contribute to their meaningful success and outcome. As a result, they were able to size the project for achievable results, embed organizational change management, and position the company to build on initial successes.