Change Management: We Are Going Around The Leaf
There is a scene in a Bugs Life where the ants are stocking up on food, each carrying a grain to prepare for the winter. When suddenly, a leaf falls from the sky, interrupting the ants trail and causing mass panic. The ant at the front is absolutely certain that he is now lost with this leaf in his path, there is nothing he can do and this is the fate of the colony – to be separated and left forever. However, running down the hill comes an elder who has seen this kind of issue before (the great twig of ‘93 anyone?), he guides the ants around the leaf and they are quickly reunited with the rest of the colony, safe to continue on but now with knowledge of what to do when an issue like this arises again.
Just like the ants, it is natural human behaviour to resist or be concerned about change – after all, it is a step away from what is known. But how does this work in an environment such as the creative industry where change is not only continual but more often than not, seen as the pathway to success? How do you manage change within creative agencies, particularly when it comes to the implementation of new technology?
Managing change in the creative industry
When you consider the speed that technology evolves at, it becomes very easy to spot potential complications when it comes to introducing new solutions to agency teams. Unsurprisingly though, the earlier management can get staff buy in on a change, the smoother the process and more accommodating and supportive staff will be. That’s not to say there will be immediate acceptance but it provides more room to move should any issues arise. Another benefit of including everyone from the beginning is that you create an environment where the whole team is working towards the same goal and understands the process. It also reduces the chance for big brother syndrome and management cannot be accused of steamrolling teams to push their own agenda.
This also helps to paint a bigger picture for everyone to see. A change which enables the agency to be more profitable and efficient means that everyone wins. But if this is not communicated right at the beginning, initial backlash can occur which creates unnecessary friction within the team. Additionally, it means that the key benefits and value derived from the change are shared at the very start. For example, if the agency is running more efficiently, then this will be reflected in the hours worked by the team – ideally, less admin and more drinks on a Friday!
Education and training
Another important element of change management is education and training – ensuring that staff are supported at every stage. This is particularly relevant when it comes to new technology solutions. You can’t expect staff to immediately understand how new technology is going to be of benefit, or even how to use it. As a result it is important to get them on board as early as possible, and continue with training and support for as long as is needed.
Change is inevitable
No one is impervious to change and it can throw a spanner in the works for the best agency teams. But in the creative industry, change is inevitable and as a result, the ability to respond with flexibility and agility is envied. Change management strategies can assist with ensuring a positive reaction to change and should also enable teams, much like the ants, to work together to go around the leaf.