Building an Actionable GIS Change Management Plan

By Dave Schneider, Esri

Change Management is a topic that leaders have been challenged with since the beginning of time. Pretty much all change faces at least some resistance. As such, scholars have been researching the psychology of this entrenched resistance for years to establish best-practices for managing this resistance. Emphasis on “managing” as eliminating resistance is an unrealistic goal. One such scholar in this field is Dr. Peter Gollwitzer at New York University. The theory developed is one that takes into account why plans fail. He determined that broad goals, while sounding nice, lack the needed connection to tactics. In other words, stakeholders lack the clear direction on how to execute on the plan. The prescribed solution from the research in this arena is having a plan communicated in Implementation Intention format. Simply stated, this creates a plan that is communicated in “if-then” statements. For the sake of building your GIS strategy, think of this as “Action-Outcome” statements to define the actions that the team will take with the ArcGIS Platform to generate a stated outcome. When doing this, make sure to include in the action part of the statement when the said action will occur. For example:

“If we implement ArcGIS Online by Q2 2016, then we’ll be able to utilize Story Maps to communicate our project work with the public to support our public outreach strategic initiative.”

The empirical evidence supporting this methodology is undeniably successful. For example, Heidi Halvorson from the Harvard Business Review published the following statistics:

Building these plans requires the engagement of the various lines of business in your organization. With your “Guiding Coalition”, you can complete the following 4 steps to build your Implementation Intention GIS Change Management Plan:

Once completed, you’ll have a simplified plan that communicates the value of the ArcGIS Platform to the various lines of business in your organization. Communicating the actions and outcomes reduces the resistance that you may encounter as you extend the ArcGIS Platform to new parts of your organization. An example of what one of these plans may look like is below:

Essentially, this methodology helps to put to action the plans that your team invests valuable time to create. Additionally, this helps to connect the enterprise value of the GIS activities of your team.


Originally published at blogs.esri.com on October 27, 2015.

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