The "Quantum Leap" Change Process and Tips

WHAT IS IT?

A quantum leap is equivalent to a major change from a given state to a very different one. It represents a transformation process, a metamorphosis, a total renewal, a radical change, this versus the gradual or incremental change or improvement. A quantum leap change is a breakthrough event. A quantum leap implies overarching a number of conventional proven routes to reach a specific destination directly. Hence it is about a paradigm shift, seeking novel shorter courses to reach a distant goal. A quantum leap is usually coupled with creative thinking and novelty, and challenging the unknown. A quantum leap is a journey to unknown territories and unknown future.

A quantum leap change is also equivalent to a swift change, hence it is more of a brisk event, this versus the stretched process of incremental change. It is basically about race with time. A quantum leap can be seen as a quick transformation to provide much better coping with a newly arising landscape. It is the optimal match with future situations. It has to be swift, since it is a transition phase where everything is changing!

A quantum leap change can be on the personal or professional level, but indeed we see many organizations and businesses going through the process, and it is becoming even popular in the change process of economies, nations and regions. The approach of quantum leap change is becoming more popular and indeed more imperative in view of the increasing pace of change in the global market environments of the new millennium, and increasing competition, but certainly following the revelations of the global financial crisis, and the deficiencies discovered in the old systems. This is the age of quantum leaps, and the trend is towards perpetual transformations and constant renewals!

JUSTIFICATION

A quantum leap approach might appear much more complex, costly and risky than a gradual safe improvement, but it turns out that the quantum leap is much more feasible from an economic point of view than the gradual approach. Gradual approaches are guarantors of staying behind in the big race, staying behind the fleets of advanced countries. Gradual approach is possibly initially cheaper and easier to implement, but in the long run it implies lack of competitive strength and hence loss. Many emerging countries are adopting the stance of quantum leap in their development. The science of change and accelerated change is progressing rapidly, and the management of such complex and swift processes are becoming quite straightforward, and hence cheaper. New strategic approaches are emerging to deal with greater dynamism of the environment. A quantum leap can be considered a transitional phase that is relatively difficult, but that will secure a smooth conditions after the journey. In contrast, incremental improvement is usually a comfortable ride followed by an ongoing tough existence.

SUCCESS CRITERIA / TIPS

Different criteria need to be fulfilled to secure a successful quantum leap, without too many bumps, irrespective of the type of party undergoing the metamorphosis, a person, company or a nation:

– INTENSIVE RESEARCH: A quantum leap is usually a journey into unknown new territories, a real adventure. To reduce the risk of failure, i.e. to improve the chances of success, and to reduce cost of journey, it is imperative to have as much data as possible about the destination and about the courses that can be taken. This implies much heavier research involvement than other change approaches. 100% data is not possible, but it is imperative to sharpen the research skills and to get as much data on the ground reflecting reality, and not mere assumptions. It is crucial to make use of all previous experiences, but indeed of the new strategic plans of similar parties.

– INTENSIVE CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION: This is a very demanding journey into the unknown, requiring superior skills in all respects. Creative thinking is essential in connection with quantum leap change, hence heavy mental efforts, interacting with the research findings, exploring all possible combinations and options in the destinations but also strategies and structures, business models etc. It is innovation at its peak.

– INTENSIVE STRATEGIC THINKING: Strategic thinking and strategic planning are essential ingredients in the quantum leap process. It is a transition to a whole new state of affairs; hence this is a holistic change necessitating a holistic view and analysis. A developed form of strategic planning is needed also, which can demonstrate high degree of flexibility for maneuver, with possibility of changing vision too. A set of values, i.e. fixed points, need to be identified, to resort to during the difficult storm and for bearing.

– SHARP FORECASTING AND ANTICIPATION SKILLS: This is connected to strategic thinking and planning. A quantum leap is a journey into unknown territories in the future too, new developments, and the sharper the vision of the future the better the chances of success. What are the likely scenarios? How do we deal with them?

– A VERY CLEAR GOAL: In addition to some set values, a quantum leap requires the formulation of a very clear goal, which is also very simply specified, that will be the lighthouse, the guide during the rough journey. This clear goal acts also as streamliner of all efforts, as unifier of the whole organization. Everyone involved should be able to identify with this goal. It is important not to divulge into too many goals and details, since it is basically an adventure, where priorities can change every moment. A paramount goal is important to define and keep in mind.

– MAKE SURE YOU ARE FIT AND READY: It is not possible to make the big leap if you are not strong enough and ready. A quantum leap is a tough transition, and you need to be fit and ready to get through the storm without too much damage. Hence Any party attempting a quantum leap has to pull itself together, i.e. to be as strong and ready as possible, in terms of structure, resources, plans, etc. Everything costs money, and sufficient funds have to be made available. You might require synergizing to make it possible; you might need to make full use of your networks. You need all the help you can get. Superior operational planning is essential, in addition to project management skills, which have to be quite flexible to deal with unexpected circumstances. One of the main things to strengthen on the personal or organizational level is the power of determination, since a large portion will be needed to make the quantum leap succeed. You need to overcome your fears, and to be as brave as you can. You have to be loaded with a very high dose of courage. When the going gets tough only the tough get going.

Basically, it is about getting as fit as possible before attempting the journey, and to strengthen the structure, and to test the limits before going ahead. Everything is changing simultaneously during such a process, and one has to have a super effective planning and management system, to avoid ending up in chaos. As with flights to the moon, one has to have a checklist, and test every component and the whole system many times, before attempting. Can you take it? This is an adventure too, and you have to be in the spirit of adventure and conquest. Furthermore, any party attempting a quantum leap, also on the personal level, should be willing to change in a drastic way. You have to be ready to change yourself big time. Use all the technology available to you. You need high bursts of everything during the transition.

– AS SWIFT AS POSSIBLE: Everything is changing in a quantum leap process, and it becomes difficult to avoid chaos and to hold it all together for a long period of time in a transitional phase. Hence one has to plan for quick transition phases, similar metamorphosis. Maximum resources might be required to make it happen. You cannot drag on in a quantum leap process. It might all disintegrate.

– BE READY TO SACRIFICE: Despite preparations a journey in the unknown is always a risky business. Hence one has to be ready for taking higher degrees of risks and taking casualties and sacrificing. The stance might be to make it or break it even. This will to sacrifice is essential in quantum leap change, otherwise there is temptation to call it off at the first encounter with challenge. It is hoped that preparations and getting fit will reduce this risk. Hence one should be ready for high level of losses in such transformations, and not to give up. You only get tougher.

– THE ELEMENT OF DISCRETION AND SURPRISE: There is so much at stake in a quantum leap change and it is difficult enough to let unwanted hands get involved, or disrupt or interfere. Hence the need to keep some degree of discretion during the preparation phase, and even implementation.

– TO LET GO OF THE PAST: This is a quantum leap to a new state, to a new world, and cannot be achieved without deep changes, and therefore the will to let go of the past and to start a new existence. Old structures will only hinder the new modes. This is a new existence, and holding on to the past will make it difficult to change and cope with the new situation.

– SUITABLE CHANGE TEAMS AND LEADERSHIP: If leadership is useful then it is a must in quantum leap change. All the characteristics of leadership peak in this process. The right creative and determined people have to be in place to undertake the journey.

– ADJUST TO THE NEW SITUATION SUBSEQUENT TO THE TRANSITION: It is very possible that the people who were in charge of making the quantum leap work will not be suitable for the ensuing relatively settled situation. Everybody involved has to show great degree of flexibility and to change inside out to cope with the new environment and situation. Everybody should accept the new paradigm and make it work, and enjoy it too.

ECM – Tips For Managing Change Effectively

While researching ECM, you’ve probably read some discouraging statistics about IT project failures, ranging anywhere from 30% to 50%. Gartner analyst Mark Gilbert recently noted that over 30% of ECM projects do not realize full success, according to discussions held with clients during 2008.1 Building the right team, identifying and articulating project goals, and making appropriate software choices are critical, but they don’t guarantee success. Although there are numerous reasons for project failure, I’m going to jump on the bandwagon of change management as one of the root causes, and ride it through the final article of this series.

Project management and change management are integral to project success, but it’s important to differentiate them:

Project management consists of planning, organizing, and managing resources to enable successful completion of a specific project.

Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, managers, teams, and organizations from their current situation to a desired future state.

Change management planning revolves around a specific, well-defined, measurable, realistic, and achievable project. Managing change starts at the beginning – during the planning stage – and runs through a project’s conclusion, addressing the gradual transition and ongoing support of employees charged with implementation. Those who recognize its importance typically do it well, but too many others make major investments in IT without planning for change. Technology cannot be effective unless people know how to use it effectively and embrace it.

Change Management: Six Steps to Success

1. Assess change readiness

If you want everyone rowing the same boat, the issues have to be on the table. Every concern – no matter how small it seems – should be considered from the employee perspective. What are resistance points? Are your employees:

Unclear why changes are needed? Unsure changes will help the company fulfill its mission or achieve its goals?

Clear about the purpose, but unsupportive? If so, why? Are they:

Anxious about transitioning away from familiar manual processes?

Afraid some of their documents will be lost permanently?

Reluctant to expose existing procedural weaknesses?

Fearful they won’t receive needed training and might fail?

Worried automation will destroy their creativity and autonomy?

A team approach to discussing and resolving these issues is paramount to success.

2. Communicate the reasons for change

Clear, regular, ongoing communication is critical from the start. Carefully considering drivers for change, weighing costs against benefits, and budgeting appropriately do not guarantee project acceptance. Even if you’re charismatic about technology and have a knack for verbal delivery, communications should be reinforced regularly in writing. People absorb and understand information in different ways. Written communication reinforces what’s been said and ensures everyone has identical information. It presents irrefutable facts and allows time for reflection and preparation.

3. Develop concrete plans

Plans should never be developed in a vacuum. If you want people to embrace change, they must have a chance to voice concerns and offer input from the beginning. Change management isn’t top-down; it’s listening carefully to concerns and fears – perceived, imagined, or legitimate – that could become barriers. Open communications provide valuable insight, letting you lay the foundations for effective change.

4. Reveal how changes will affect employees

Even the most dedicated employees want to know how change will affect them personally. They’ll ponder:

How will this change affect my work on a daily basis?

What will I need to do differently?

Will I need more skills to be successful? How will I learn them?

Will changes be sufficiently tested to ensure they’ll work?

Will automation affect my position? Will I be moved to another area or eliminated?

Many companies implementing ECM take advantage of efficiency gains by repurposing employees to more meaningful work. The aim is not to eliminate people, but to position them to handle work more efficiently. Communicate your plans openly. People can accept change if they know what to expect. Managing expectations is tricky, but it’s vital to project success.

5. Present a united front

Company leadership – executives, department heads, and IT – must present a unified vision and convey project support if they expect employees to embrace it. Indifference can lead to project demise. Make sure you communicate:

Firm commitment to project goals, while accepting input on the details.

Specific, achievable objectives along with schematics for achieving them.

Benchmarks for success and a realistic timetable.

Plans for training appropriate to each employee’s skill level and understanding.

Documentation that will be available to support end-user adoption.

Opportunities for end users to give feedback during and after project rollout.

Meaningful opportunities for career growth when automation assumes routine tasks.

End users’ role in ongoing process improvement (beyond the project).

After your plans are in place, revisit them often. Don’t bury yourselves in meetings and hope plans will fly. Encourage feedback as you advance. Projects have potholes and diversions; you just need to keep your eyes open so they don’t become calamities.

6. Manage resistance

Someone usually resists change, making life difficult. Negativism sabotages project acceptance. Identify nay sayers. Understand their concerns. Help them to see how ECM will make their lives easier. If possible, introduce one of your vendor’s clients – end users – to share their initial fears, successful outcomes, and expanded vision for the future as a result of ECM. If you can convert your greatest opponent into a project evangelist, you may exceed your own expectations.

Make the most of the opportunity

Change isn’t easy, but there’s no reason for an ECM implementation to fail if the project is well planned and potential issues are proactively addressed. If you work alongside employees to meet prudent, achievable goals, you won’t fail. By making company processes transparent, encouraging open dialogue, and being receptive to constructive criticism, you’ll help your people to accept change and will reap great rewards. When your employees say, “Look what we’ve accomplished so far,” you’ll know you’re on the right path.

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1Mark Gilbert, Build Your 2009 ECM Project Road Map to Avoid Failure Trend, published in March 2009.