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Engaging your team with system change: no frills, big impact

Last month I was running a requirements workshop with a Synapsys client who are at the start of their journey with Learning Management Systems.  For the uninitiated, a requirements workshop aims to pull together all the different things that an organisation wants its system to do.  It’s not about the functionality of a LMS but more about the business problems the LMS needs to address.  Anyway, one of the things that struck me about this client was how engaged everyone was.  There were 20 or so people there; all enthusiastically talking about how learning worked for their staff, their services and their organisation. We got some great foundation information that will really help them get the system they need.

Later, I was talking to their project manager; commenting on how positive I’d found it and how interested everyone seemed.  You’ve got to see our tree he said.  Turns out this PM had crafted a huge poster of a stylised tree, representing the LMS project, which was on display in a high staff traffic area.  Next to the poster was a glass bowl full of paper leaves.  Every time the LMS project completed a key action or reached a milestone, the people involved wrote the action on a leaf and put it up on the tree.  As we were talking we duly wrote Complete requirements workshop on a leaf and added it to the foliage.

As I was driving home I reflected on what the relationship might be between the level of organisational engagement and the PM’s tree.  Too often we see organisations roll out systems seemingly out of nowhere.  Small groups create requirements, choose systems, devise project plans and launch sites without much in the way of connection to the wider organisation.  Sure, we may talk to leaders or circulate documents but how much do we really support our people to connect to the change?  The tree in question wasn’t high tech, time consuming or expensive but it was certainly a way that staff could visually track the progress of what will be their learning system.  Thinking it through, I suspect that this poster, and the approach it represented, was a key part of why this team were so engaged.  When you’re rolling out a system it’s easy to get embroiled in all the tech stuff; the core functionality, the plug-ins, the data requirements.  Perhaps we can all challenge ourselves to think more about the people who will be using the system and how we can bring them along for the ride.

Karen Gillie, LMS Lead

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