Anthony Marshall, the head of content strategy and customer experience at Kraft Heinz, had the unenviable task of preparing some of the most iconic brands in the US for sale online – at a time when few Americans were buying groceries through ecommerce. And, he acknowledged at the Digital Food & Beverage conference in Austin earlier this summer, that he initially received a lot of push back from stakeholders across departments who unwillingly had roles to play in the expansion from selling in stores to selling online.
But, he said, as he pushed forward with making Kraft Heinz’s brands ready for the digital shelf, he discovered three strategies for not only quelling fears of the unknown but also gaining buy in and ensuring success.
These include first creating a climate for change; second, engaging and enabling the organization; and finally implementing and sustaining the change.
Creating a climate for change
When Marshall started Kraft Heinz’s digital transformation he discovered that some people didn’t understand what it meant for products to be on a digital shelf, why it was important or how they were supposed to help.
To overcome this, Marshall set about to create a shared vision that everyone felt a part of and empowered to improve as the journey progressed. He did this by literally sitting down with stakeholders, who in this case was the company’s marketing team.
“I actually moved [my desk] from the Sales and IT area, and sat with in the marketing space … so I could hear what they talked about, their complaints,” to better understand their needs and to help them understand the need for the digital asset management technology that he said he was hoping to create with their help.
As illustrated by Marshall’s physical move to the marketing space, another key component of creating a climate for change is to form powerful coalitions. He did this by creating advisory boards with stakeholders that met monthly. This served the duel function of holding everyone accountable by keeping them in the loop and it gave them partial ownership in the change so that they wouldn’t feel threatened and would more likely cheerlead for the change.
The third element of creating a climate for change is to involve those who are impacted – even if they aren’t technically on your team according to the org chart, Marshall said.
“Make everyone in the organization part of your team, part of this journey,” and that way no one will feel left behind and fewer people will block your path, he said.
Engage and enable the organization
To create powerful coalitions and involve those who are impacted, Marshall said that change makers will have better luck if they engage and enable the organization as a whole by constantly communicating.
“If you think you are communicating too much, communicate more,” he quipped. “The one thing you don’t want somebody to come back to say later is ‘Well, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.’ Or, ‘I don’t know what you are doing.’”
To facilitate communication – and encourage momentum – Marshall advises change-makers to create a plan with quick wins built in to it. This creates more opportunities for communication and engagement and helps people understand progress is happening.
The third part to engaging the organization is to clearly define what success will look like and how it is measured, he said. These metrics should be grounded in larger company objectives to ensure support from above as well as below, he added.
Implement and sustain the change
The last phase of driving change in an organization is to implement and sustain the change, which Marshall said can become a virtuous loop if adequately communicated.
“You gotta measure and share the results because people like to know that they are making a difference, and to see the progress you’re making,” he said.
And what better way to communicate success than by publicly rewarding those who made it happen and celebrating their accomplishments, he added.
While each of these nine steps are distinct – and necessary – Marshall noted they are not necessarily linear. But rather will come up repeatedly as change takes hold.