If companies want to make a success of their implementation of new tools and practices, they would be well advised to appoint staff who have project-relevant skills as their internal project ambassadors.

Appointing the Right Project Champion Helps Drive Change

The best way to integrate new tools and practices into a company is to call upon staff who have the relevant skills. It is also essential to set up clear implementation programmes that everyone can understand so as to ensure that the new practices will be duly implemented. This is the conclusion of a McKinsey Institute study carried out at a large European bank based in Italy, with particular focus on the departments dealing with new technology. The researchers found that when managers conveyed information on structural changes using traditional means – memos, Internet documents, meetings, etc – in two thirds of all cases the new instructions were not actually carried out.  

Find the person best suited to drive the change

The reasons given for not making a particular change were often the fear of making a mistake, reluctance to give up tried and trusted methods, or quite simply a lack of information on these new practices. The problem was that this company was trying to implement new practices right across the board, all at the same time, following a single roadmap. The report recommends that, instead of doing it that way, a company should identify key people in each department who can drive change efficiently among their colleagues. For example, a project leader in the IT sector will be able to speed up the company’s adoption of technical tools such as an internal network or smartphone applications. Someone working at the heart of this field is likely to have the credibility and managerial influence to take other colleagues along with him.

Tailored, personalised programmes

Once these influencers have been trained up on the new practice, it’s then the right moment to address the rest of the staff, setting up implementation programmes tailored to each job, so that everyone can grasp precisely what each new tool can do for him or her. There are different ways of doing this: discussion groups, skills updates, intensive managerial follow-up, and/or personal counselling and support.  These plans should remain subject to adjustment and be adapted to each job at the company. This approach often helps to forge closer ties between staff, who thus become more aware of their own roles and those of their colleagues, and of their respective contributions. It also helps to instill in staff a certain degree of responsibility and leadership, so that they are able to take over from their bosses whenever necessary.