In another post for this blog (feel free to wax nostalgic for a moment), I brought up the idea of two types of change: Closeup Change and Big Picture Change. The former is the type of mundane project change we deal with all the time, while the latter is systemic, having a significant affect on the people in an organization and the way they work. Your project might be the cause of Big Picture Change or be affected by it.
When you begin the initiation phase, realize that nearly all projects are going to have some element of Big Picture Change inherent in them. Even if you’re putting out release 16.45 of the Ancient-and-Well-Known System, there are going to be one or two people who will read that “What’s New” file (or equivalent) and have to change what they do, be it ever so slightly. On the other hand, your project may be the successful merging of Your Companys’ systems and associate processes with those of Their Company, which your side has recently acquired. In this case, you’ve got a multifaceted program on your hands, the most significant aspect of which is the changes for all the people involved, making attention to Big Picture Change absolutely critical.
My point is that whatever your project is, you’ve got to account for the human beings involved. To do this you may have to broaden your net to find all the stakeholders. Build Big Picture Change into every project you do.
More than this, you may have to become an evangelist. Someone must advocate for the need to update the user documentation, mount the internal communications campaign, or throw more resources at training. Too many projects deliver on the specs but then face resistance or outright rejection upon deployment because everybody thought the project was about the system or product, not about the people. If nobody else is trumpeting the urgency of addressing Big Picture Change, it’s up to you. For many of us, this requires a trip beyond the comfort zone, even into the offices of those much higher up in the organization. Go through channels if you must, but push for the audiences you need.
Dig, dig, dig to find every single group of people that might be affected, even if they are far beyond your normal zone of operation. Then, to the best of your ability, be an evangelist for their success, and it will become your own.