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Winning hearts and minds: working in the open

change management digital transformation leadership

Winning hearts and minds: Working in the open


One of the questions I get asked frequently is how to win hearts and minds on a transformation or change project.


Whilst the answer to that is complex, nuanced and can take several different approaches for different peoples’ needs, there are a few core principles that I will address in specific focused posts.


The first of which is this: working in the open


Whilst you may have no control over what your senior management team might say and then do differently, you can have control and responsibility over your change team and how are you are demonstrating change.


So, in the change team, what are the principles you stand by and actions and activities that demonstrate that you are delivering a strategy and on the promise to your business?


Here’s a short selection of what we can all do at little or no cost.


Set working behaviours and abide by them. 

The Government Digital service set out a list of behaviours for individuals that it was okay to do and ensured that these were highly visible on posters around building.

In contrast to previous working practices the posters let everyone know that it was okay to not know the answers, it was okay to ask questions, it was okay to work in headphones to focus, setting out a new behaviour standards in culture.


Set your 100-day targets

People are reassured by your delivery against targets. Robert Cialdini in his 6 pillars of persuasion purports that consistency, and delivering on your promises falls into one of the key pillars of influence.


Internally your delivery teams will be buoyed up by progress and people neutral to your programme will be reassured that the programme is on track by being aware of it demonstrable actions.


I was working in the UK Government when President Obama was inaugurated and his subsequent 100 day reporting was a principle we then adopted. When the first Digital Director was appointed for all of UK government, in my role of Head of Public Participation we enabled the public to contribute to what they thought his first 100 day achievements should be and to get people to upvote or downvote in an open public poll.


Working in the open

Building a new digital transformation team at the same time as running business as usual at Lambeth Council it was a critical to work in the open so people could see, hear and experience agile working.


Here’s a few things we did:


We deliberately moved the team to the middle of the floor so people could see us.


We had daily short stand-up meeting from our in-house and remote teams.


We had weekly all hands IT meetings sharing progress but also asking questions. Using Microsoft Teams casting and open Q and A, we involved all staff in IT, contact centres and call centres, about 500 people were welcome to attend and ask questions.


We ran monthly show and tell sessions in the canteen that anyone could drop by and understand what changes were happening.


We ran service product redesign session that different parts of the business could contribute to.


We ran periodic public open Q and A sessions to share with the citizens of Lambeth how we were transforming public services.


We co-opted people into our team so they could have an experience of agile working practice and how horizontal transformation worked and they took parts of that working practice back into their teams to evolve agile working practice.


There’ll be more posts on winning hearts and minds. I’d love to hear your stories of working in the open too.