How to Set-up a Change Network

Change Network

Let’s start with understanding what a change network is or change ambassadors as we’re preferring to call them here. They’re also often referred to as change champions. So your change network is really a group of individuals from within your organization who can act as a key driving force to support and embed the change. They could come from a variety of different places across the organization, ultimately representing different populations – different functions, operating units, geographies, levels, grades, roles, you know, everything that’s potentially relevant for your change project. The role they play is really about helping the change to be embedded, understood, helping to lead by example. They’re a real conduit between the change program and wherever they come from in the business, bringing that two-way communication, bringing feedback around requirements, needs, challenges of their particular function or geography. They’re really there to provide support, to role model the change, possibly give hands-on support to training and adoption, that type of thing, and to identify any risks or issues on the ground in reality of how the change is being received and then report that back to the change program.

In thinking about what makes a good member of a change network or a good change ambassador, preferably you want them to be at that management level. So they’ve got some experience working with and managing others so they really understand both aspects of how the change works. They should have a good understanding of the technical business landscape in relation to where the change is occurring so they’ve got to know how it’s actually going to impact that area of the business that they come from. Potentially having some transformation experience would be good but not essential. They’ve got to be trusted by their colleagues, be a good influencer, be the kind of person who’s usually positive, committed, engaged, and helpful in terms of demonstrating new ways of working and really being a role model. Also, they really need to have good interpersonal skills. You want someone who people can interact with and trust and feedback to, etc.

So how do you mobilize a change ambassadors’ network? There are really four key steps you could go through, and we would ultimately advocate that volunteering is highly effective. So you might want leaders to basically identify some of their own candidates that they think from their business area, function, or geography, etc., to be part of the network. But you also want people to self-select into this. You want to know that they want to be part of it and that they’ve not just been told or asked.

In identifying your candidate, step one, make sure you’ve got a good mix from across the business. Again, depending on the scale of your change program, making sure you can really represent the right business areas and you’ve got that mix. Secondly, you want them to be appointed in part by leaders or people who know who would be good in this role, but also you want them to be self-selecting into this so that you know that they’ve really got that buying and want to be engaged.

Then it’s a good idea to get them all together and to hold some kickoff briefings for your ambassadors. So this is where you want to—it’s like it’s a mini-training really—to help them understand what’s the program, where are we now, what are the key priorities and challenges, what are the things we expect from them in terms of helping this to be adopted, what are the expectations we have of them, and also just agreeing how you’re going to interact together as a network. So when are you going to meet, what’s the cadence, what other support can they expect, etc.

And then finally, you want to activate your ongoing network of meetings. So you know, it might be a good idea to think about how do you all engage, is it monthly, is it weekly, what channels will be most effective, and what else do your ambassadors need to help them? FAQs, access to content, ability to share success stories, ability to bring employee feedback, etc. And you might decide also, you know when is a good time to develop your change ambassador network really depends on the time scales of your program, but you don’t want to do it too early. You want it to be a time when your ambassadors feel that they’ve really got a role to play.

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