Many organisations hit bumps in the road when a period of change is imminent. Whether scaling up for fast growth, preparing for new business, product or geographical entries, or when preparing for a change of business direction, an organisation needs to support its employees through a period of sustained change.
JCP Consultancy is often asked for the best approach. An answer has to be the identification and training of dedicated change champions who can be focal points throughout the period while the changes required become accepted ways of doing business.
Change champions are a group of skilled individuals who are supported with collaboration techniques so that they can effectively collaborate with one another, with senior staff and with key stakeholders across the business.
Change champions work together by:
Affinity Water is largest water-only supplier in the UK, providing on average 900 million litres of water each day to a population of more than 3.6 million people.
They were facing a time of considerable change when the company was put up for sale and bought by new shareholders, creating a complex environment overall. In addition, it was a time of regulatory and customer change in the water sector.
Affinity Water wanted to see a positive change that would be sustainable and able to continue to grow in the future. They recognised that skilled individuals within the organisation, trained as ‘change champions’, would give them the capability to achieve further change within Affinity Water.
Which meant the first step was to define, with Affinity Water senior staff, what an Affinity Water change champion would look like. We worked with several key stakeholders and ran four kick-off workshops to understand the problems that Affinity Water was experiencing, and what they felt was stopping them from progressing. We also captured all the major projects that Affinity Water was working on at the time, to identify where the change champions would have most positive impact.
The change champions would be chosen from existing employees, based on their ability to communicate effectively and support colleagues. They would then be trained to be qualified and empowered in making positive change. The change champions would have the capability to act, operate and think differently because of variations in current environment / circumstances.
The potential change champions were invited to six workshops (and ongoing ‘refresher’ sessions) to further test their capability. Once an individual was identified as a prime candidate, they began moving down a change champion developmental path, using JCP Consultancy methodologies to define and design how the change champion development process would run, what tools would be used, and how everything would be optimised to provide the most benefit for Affinity Water.
Once upskilled and capable of overseeing change, their new skills and change capabilities needed to be implemented and integrated into regular operations. To facilitate that, we needed to develop an operational model of how the organisation works.
JCP Consultancy held seven operating model workshops with senior leadership teams and discipline experts to facilitate the building of an operational model. The operational model was designed differently to a typical operational model, as it was designed to show where best to accommodate the position and abilities of change champions. This operational model showed new roles for change champions engaging with the leadership team.
This was the first time that a number of our contacts had seen an operational model of how their organisation worked – our development of this therefore provided Affinity Water with added value in this project.
JCP Consultancy devised a programme of education and workshops to develop change champions within Affinity Water, looking to strategically align different divisions and stakeholders within the company towards their goals.
Over 30 workshops to a total of approximately 400 participants throughout Affinity Water delivered:
In particular, JCP Consultancy was clear that an important part of the training must include a direct approach to problem solving, taking a proactive approach to the issue where possible. JCP Consultancy trained Affinity’s change champions with key modules relating to:
The ability to effectively communicate change is just as important as actually learning it, so that change champions can promulgate what they have learnt throughout the organisation. JCP Consultancy trained the change champions in the ‘language of change’ so they could explain their purpose and how they could benefit Affinity Water’s upcoming programmes through their change management capability, in ways that were easy to understand and support.
This was supported with two large general communication and engagement workshops to over 100 people, so that the language of change could be taught throughout Affinity Water, and so that participants were able to effectively engage with the new change champions.
A total of 20 change champions were developed (from a starting pool of 180 candidates), from various departments so that collaboration between division through their change champions was possible.
The group of change champions created a new ‘board’ of information and ideas. This new interconnectivity facilitated knowledge transfer between divisions, improving projects and programmes.
The language of change is now cemented in Affinity Water. Rather than a light touch skill of change management in general, individuals can understand change and can communicate better in the context of change.
Affinity Water managing director used the group of change champions as a ‘sounding board’ for his presentations throughout the sector.
Affinity Water has moved up the water sector customer performance league table as a result of continued focus by the change champions on this area.