Step 1: Create urgency. ASK is a professional human resources advisory firm. Recently, it acquired a client who was a specialty publisher of medical journals. This client was faced with the challenge of fully integrating digital publishing in its management population. The challenge including making considerable changes in the working practices and specialty knowledge of the company and its employees. Urgency came from the fact that its major changes – universities, libraries and information centers – had already fully embraced digital publishing. The company faced a loss of clients, and profitability, if it was not able to meet the demands of the industry.

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Step 2: Form a powerful coalition. The company operates in over 20 countries and employees a large number of editors, authors and board numbers from a wide array of backgrounds, all of which had to be coordinated for the changes to occur with ease and result in profitability. A core group of about 400 senior leaders, selected from the organization worldwide, were selected to be the leaders of the organizational change (Franckeiss, pg. 279).

Step 3: Create a vision for change. The vision for change had previously resulted in the adoption of digital products including the use of optical discs and CD-ROMS (Franckeiss, pg. 279). Key clients of the company, such as libraries, had already embraced many emerging strategies of digital and online publishing. The vision for change was already fully emerged in the market. It was up to the company to adopt strategies that would make it competitive with other publishing companies and publishing techniques that would make it appealing and accessible to clients and readers.

Step 4: Communicate the vision. ASK create a program that was designed to give participants, i.e. company leaders, a clear view of available approaches to managing change (Franckeiss, pg. 279). The program ASK designed incorporated Jon Kotter’s 8 Steps to Successful Change in its strategy (Franckeiss, pgs. 279-280). ASK developed a highly interactive, educational outreach program that included webinars and participative cross-functional workshop. Participant understanding and buy-in was assessed using direct reports. Program objectives for the participating managers included: understanding the strategic impact of the changes; the ability react empathetically and intelligently with people issues; embracing personal responsibility and commitment to the change; incorporating changes and following through with team building and coaching support.

Step 5: Remove obstacles. The major obstacles ASK faced was in incorporating substantial changes into the company’s working practices. Managers had to fully embrace the change and be dedicated to the challenge of revising work processes for their authors, editors and production staff. It was understood that in order for the initiative to succeed, it would need to deal with the psychological aspects of change. The program thus included coping strategies for managers to help their team members cope with the emotional journey through the change. In addition, business change framework was deployed incrementally over time in order to allow sufficient time for team members to acclimate to the changes.

Step 6: Create short-term wins. Short-term wins allow team members to see immediate benefits of the change. For this company, short-term wins were created in several ways. For one, change was broken down into case sub-sets. For example, one of the tasks was to change the publishing format to template designs to increase uniformity within the publications. An initial communications to authors and editors explained the changes that were to be implemented. Feedback was received through a chosen subset of those authors and editors. Based on feedback, changes to the process were made before the templates were officially introduced to the team. Secondly, the change was only implanted in two pilot programs initially. The two initial pilot programs were initiated in Europe and the U.S. The success of the pilot programs spurred forth the changes in the company’s other worldwide publishing houses.

Step 7: Build on the change. The success of the pilot programs proved that the change program had been successful in communicating the needs of the company. The program had been effective in communicating a sense of urgency and in recruiting the support of senior managers and leaders. It had empowered team members to continue to fully support and embrace the company’s innovative changes, assuring that it remained a leader in the medial publishing field.

Step 8: Anchor the changes in corporate culture. Both the client company and ASK realized that the continued success of the change necessitated coaching and post-workshop, follow-through activity. The incredible complexity and overall large scale of the change meant that there would be a issues, objectives, and psychological aspects of transformation that would continue long after the initial change had been implemented. Every three or four months, 1:1 and team coaching was delivered until such time as the new processes, practices and behaviors had become firmbly embedded in the corporate culture and were accepted as business as usual (Franckeiss, pg. 281).

  • Franckeiss, Anton (2012) Organizational and individual change: a case study. Strategic HR Review, 11(5), 278-282.