By Angela Traven, Graduate Student, San Diego State University

The Way Things Were
In July 2009, I helped to develop an internal website called ORA (Online Resource Assistant) for the graphic artists in my office. ORA would ensure all graphic templates, job aids, and checklists were controlled. If an artist visited this portal to retrieve a resource, it was guaranteed to be the most current version. Previously there was no centralized control over templates, job aids, or checklists that had been printed out or copied to an artist’s desktop. ORA also provided links to graphic examples, timesheets, tools, and the projects each artist was working on. It even had a forum for artists to share news on the latest and greatest graphic design tools and techniques.

A training session was held to showcase the new tool. A few months later an evaluation of the rollout was done and it was discovered only four artists out of 25 were using the new tool. As it turned out, these four were the artists that had developed ORA. The other 21 artists were comfortable with the old way of doing things, the old printouts, their desktop shortcuts, and browser favorites. We should have managed the transition differently and enforced that the old way of doing things was over.

As It Should Have Been
The flawed rollout could have been improved with a more in-depth front-end analysis. We should have surveyed and interviewed the other artists and asked them typical rollout questions:

  • Can you see why the organization is going this way?
  • Do you see benefits for your work?
  • What should the organization do to help you move in this direction?
  • Are you willing to change?

Also, we should have focused more on managing the human side of change. William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, says that if employees are to feel comfortable with change, they need these four Ps:

  • Purpose, or the reasons for the change
  • Picture of the expected outcome
  • Plan for navigating from the current situation to the future
  • Part the employee will play in making the changes successful

All four Ps could have easily been implemented before, during, and after the rollout of ORA. Before the rollout we should have held a meeting to explain the reason for the change and painted a picture of the expected outcome. In this meeting we could have emphasized the importance of having controlled and up-to-date information when working. We should have interviewed each artist to see which templates, job aids, checklists, and tools the artist used most. Screen captures of their desktops and bookmarks should have been taken. This would have emphasized that we were addressing each artists’ needs and would have given the employee a part to play in making the change successful. After the rollout we should have again emphasized the reason for the change.

Motivation was definitely an issue. A definition of what was over and what was not should have been established. The days of copied outdated checklists were over; the days of going to ORA to get your checklist were now the preferred method. Upon the rollout of ORA, we should have had each artist delete all copies of old items and had him or her implement ORA as his or her home page. After implementing ORA we should have tested the artists’ familiarity with the website, asked them to locate different templates and checklists, post in the forums, get to projects, and so forth. Boosting the artists’ familiarity with ORA would have increased their confidence when using the website. We then should have re-interviewed each artist to see how ORA was working for them.

Managing the human side of change would have made the artists feel more comfortable with the change. It would have increased their knowledge of what was going to be implemented, which in turn would have made them more confident going into the change. Enforcing the change would have provided motivation and testing the artists familiarity would have improved their skills. With these non-training solutions implemented, I believe the rollout would have been successful.

References
Bridges, William. (2003). Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change (2nd edition). Cambridge: Da Capo Press.

About the Author
Angela Traven is a graduate student in Educational Technology at San Diego State University. This work was done in partial fulfillment of requirements for Allison Rossett’s performance technology class at SDSU. Angela may be reached at angtraven@gmail.com.