Amanda Eastman, Former Director of Data Strategy and Transformation at General Motors, speaks with Chris Sittig, Field CTO at Stratascale, in a video interview about mitigating the stress caused by heavy organizational changes, measuring results of change initiatives, and the importance of effectively communicating change to different levels of an organization.
Large-scale change initiatives can cause severe stress to the organizational workforce. Speaking on her approach to managing stress and mitigating the challenges around it, Eastman highlights three critical approaches from her experience.
First and foremost, she says that stress is inevitable since employees are humans first and large change initiatives tend to be very technical, especially for first-time ventures. Eastman tries to set very clear targets first - What and why of the change? And, what is the target outcome?
She cites the famous example of the the janitor at NASA who mentioned his role as “helping to put a man on the moon,” when asked by former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Eastman further explains that in the case of NASA, everybody understood the bigger purpose and mission. Simplifying change initiatives makes teams feel more powerful, allows them to be flexible, and work towards the ultimate goal.
The second aspect Eastman highlights is consistently measuring results. She adds that metrics are crucial when implementing change because they will not only provide a data point for progress but will also help inform a need to pivot while moving through a project. Metrics can be the mirror, she adds.
The next aspect Eastman mentions is communication. She stresses the need to communicate with all stakeholders while also blending communication with the metrics of change. On the frequency of communication, she says that different levels of the organization require different frequencies. She suggests quarterly reports for senior leadership teams and embedding the metrics naturally into the work for the project teams.
As a tip, Eastman mentions two key aspects:
Taking advantage of occasions where the leadership is dedicating time to looking for updates.
Being careful about over-communicating reports for the project teams.
CDO Magazine appreciates Amanda Eastman for sharing insights and data success stories with our global community.