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Letter from the CCO (October 2020): The Fact is, Change is Hard




If your business runs on a fiscal year calendar like ours does at Workfront, you are entering budgeting season for 2021. It’s the time of year when everyone looks at the investments they’ve made, and the returns those investments have yielded. 

As the person at your organization who either owns Workfront, or is highly involved, you may have had goals this year of having complete visibility of your organization or team’s work in order to make better, data-driven decisions. Maybe you had a goal of changing the balance of work from “run work” to “strategic work.” Or to get more done with less. The list goes on. 

As you near the end of the year, you want to look back with pride and share all the great value you’ve brought to the company. And as you look to the future, you want to set goals for 2021 that will propel your team to even more greatness. We want that too! 

Peter Drucker, a management consultant, educator, author, and arguably one of the best business minds of our time, once said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” When it comes to Workfront, this is where the rubber meets the road with user adoption. You and I both know the power of the platform, but If your users aren’t on board, it’s impossible to measure progress. And if you can’t measure it, you can’t articulate the value of it. That makes annual planning that much more arduous. 

But driving adoption in a robust tool like Workfront is often easier said than done. Change is hard, and it often brings with it a whole host of emotions. People may be reluctant to share their work for fear of scrutiny. They may not see the value of investing the time to use a tool. These are all very natural feelings and it’s your job to work past them. The good news is, you're not alone. 

Leading Change

Leading change is an intentional practice, often with very logical steps, that very few organizations take. Why? Because being intentional about change takes coordination, time, and effort. Put that against the backdrop of today’s busy business environment where there’s intense competition for priorities, and logical steps go out the window! 

The steps below are meant to help guide you and your team through a change. While the steps aren’t necessarily revolutionary or groundbreaking, they are logical and practical. It’s also important to keep in mind that every organization is different, and you should adjust what you need for each unique situation.

  • Step 1: What is the Vision? What is the specific change that is about to happen? The broader change might look different for different groups. Be intentional. Write it down, share it, socialize it. Not HOW you’re going to do it, not WHEN—just simply, WHAT.

  • Step 2: Identify the 'Who.' Identify, list and analyze your stakeholders. This is any group that is impacted by, or has a vested interest in the change. Write this down too. 

  • Step 3: Answer the ‘Why.’ The ‘why’ is critical to helping people understand why this change is happening, especially when the change may not benefit them directly. Again, write it down, socialize it, clarify it, crystalize it.

  • Step 4: Answer the ‘When.’ Get intentional about your timeline and your plan. Include phases if that’s the approach you’re going to take. Provide ongoing updates to stakeholders against the targeted timeline. 

  • Step 5: Answer the ‘How.’ Finally! The HOW. What are the tools you’re going to employ and/ or provide to your stakeholders to support this change? Assign owners and write it down. 

  • Step 6: Create a Communication Plan. This is more than a single FYI email. Be very intentional and create tailored messaging for your various groups. Consider a multi-touch, tiered approach that involves your leadership team. (For example, have a VP send out a broad message introducing what’s coming, how and when the team will be supported through the change, and thank them in advance for their ongoing commitment. As a follow-up, a director or manager might send a more detailed message.)

If you’d like to dig a little deeper into the neuroscience, this 30-minute recording of a recent Workfront Virtual user Group on the topic of change management .... Leigh Burger, Strategic Customer Success Manager at Workfront, goes through these steps in more detail and uses the act of transitioning to the new Workfront experience as the example of change. This Workfront Wednesday blog post is also a fantastic resource.

In closing, I’d also like to recommend you make time throughout the year to shine a regular spotlight on your success. Don’t wait until that annual planning cycle; instead, take time to show the measurable impact of your success at least twice a year. 

Thanks, as always, for being part of the Workfront family and for helping us grow and be better every day. If there’s anything we can do to help, or to make your day-to-day life easier, please don’t hesitate to ask. 


 - Sue