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5 Steps Every Organization Can Take to Beat the Transformation Odds (Part 2) 

Jump back into the story of a large biotech company’s transformation to learn how they are making change stick.

Published By Debra Aizikovitz
5 Steps Every Organization Can Take to Beat the Transformation Odds (Part 2) 

The big idea associated with this blog series is improving your odds of making a transformation stick.  

In this post, you’ll jump back into the story of a large biotech company undergoing transformation the intelligent way – by leveraging the principles of organizational change management.  

Put another way, it means they attended, with clear intention, to “the people side of change.” 

With the five steps outlined below, you’ll dig into the company’s organizational change management strategy and actionable tactics. You’ll learn five critical roles for advancing organizational change and techniques to enable clear, unified communication. You’ll see why change doesn’t happen overnight. And you’ll find tips for developing a leader’s mindset for people change management. 

If you missed the first post in this series – where we introduced the company’s transformation goals, a 5-point plan for organizational change management, and more – head over now to read part one of their story.  

1. Apply Different Strategies and Tactics to Different Levels 

The biotech company created its change management strategy to match its project delivery organizational structure. This included program-level and work delivery teams, which drove the need for four change strategies: communicate, collaborate, educate and train, and anchor the change. 

Tactics for program-level change management  

For the program-level change management strategy, they focused on the first strategy – communicate – using the key tactics listed here, in chronological order. 


  • Define change approach, identify success measures, establish change framework and activities, prepare change toolkit, identify stakeholders, develop communication plan, develop branding, create messaging, and schedule communications 

Then, they executed their communication plan. The core implementation leadership, including the portfolio sponsor, PMO leader, and change manager, managed the communication plan deliverables. They took an ongoing “checks-and-balances” approach, communicating regularly with the people manager to engage the pulse of the change in the organizations.  

Tactics for workstream-level change management 

For the work delivery-level change management strategy, they focused on the remaining three strategies — collaborate, educate and train, and anchor the change — using the key tactics listed below, chronologically by strategy.  


  • Initiate change champion’s role, develop change adoption plans (by workstream), conduct change impact assessment (on both the process impact and the technology impact), introduce change champions to the change toolkit, workstream workshops to define current state/what’s changing, execute change adoption plans, support transition to new processes and technologies 

Educate and Train 

  • Train-the-trainer sessions, training materials, end-user training logistics, end-user training by workstream, training evaluation 

Anchor Change 

  • Assess change adoption, remediate change gaps, recognize and reward adoption, conduct lessons learned, evaluate benefits realization 

2. Assign the Right People to the Right Roles 

People played a critical role in making the transformation stick. The scope of that statement isn’t limited to “the people,” in terms of the company’s teams and individual contributors who needed to ultimately embrace the change.  

People were equally important for their leadership roles at multiple levels of the organization. 

The biotech company leveraged five critical roles to communicate, collaborate, educate and train, and anchor change throughout the company. 

  • Change champion 
  • Change manager 
  • People manager 
  • Change agent network 
  • Executive sponsorship 

The change champion was crucial to the success of the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Transformation Team.  

The team defined this role’s responsibility as the primary point of contact between impacted stakeholders in associated teams and the core project teams throughout the project duration. In layperson terms, the change champion was critical to the cross-collaboration throughout the organization and helping these teams make change become real.  

The name alone — change champion — told people at the company a lot about the reason the right people were needed to fill the role.  

Indeed, the change champion was an aptly named role: These people were the drivers and the influencers of change, the strong supporters of the PPM Transformation effort. They advocated openly and were willing to explore business process improvements enabled by the transformation. Each led with a positive opinion of the new technology and enterprise-wide business process improvement.   

The change champions also gave clear, concise, and consistent transformative communication, assisting in identifying and communicating challenges with resolutions. Additionally, people in this role were able to build cross-functional stakeholder trust through communication and feedback.  

3. Use Change Activities for Clear, Unified Communication 

The PPM Transformation team used different methods to ensure inclusiveness in change communication and obtain the necessary feedback to optimize the implementation of the new technology.  

The following communication goals were understood and adopted by everyone who created, delivered, and implemented messaging:   

  • Create awareness 
  • Influence perceptions 
  • Prepare employees 
  • Facilitate understanding 
  • Drive adoption 
  • Manage resistance 

The change approach needed to reach more than 2,500 stakeholders, representing a broad spectrum of readiness for change in their mindsets across multiple countries. The goal was to use various techniques to drive continuous communication aimed at challenging and influencing different mindsets.  

The owner of these techniques was the change manager, who, along with the change champions, communicated the messaging to the organization. The people managers also needed to ensure the change was fully understood and reinforced.  

Here are some examples of change activities. Each activity had its own process and templates to support consistent, clear communication across different roles:  

  • Weekly talking points 
  • Real-time surveys 
  • Polls 
  • Emails 
  • Team chats 
  • Focus groups 
  • Targeted questions  

A change management activity process could start with developing talking points for change champions (or another role); next, the process could move on to crafting an email referencing the defined talking points, and then, it could include following up with an extended stakeholder focus group session. All these change activities work together to reinforce the people side of change. 

Change activities serve two primary purposes: First, they allow time for uncertainty to develop. Second, they arm people with tools to adapt to change.  

4. Realize that Change Management is a Long Game 

The people part of a change is not easy. It takes patience, support, and sponsorship from leadership. Most change starts with a lot of talking and learning who is who. Many interviews happen, and communication starts to flow.  

With this company, there was some behavior modeling (how people react to change) to help understand people’s expectations. A change agent network was created to help understand the need for change. This change network supported the change champions by extending into the business.   

As people moved through their own change journey, we added coaching sessions for leaders to learn how to manage their own change and their teams’ change. We rewarded those that took the lead in change by directing and promoting the education and training available.  

The PPM Transformation chose not to make a company resistance plans as they remained optimistic that people would change. Through the work delivery team leaders, they had strong localized transition plans for all their people to take ownership of the change by managing the resistance for individuals. 

5. Adopt a Leader’s Mindset for People Change Management 

The PPM Transformation team knew that moving all the stakeholders from awareness of the new technology to ultimate ownership of their new role in the new technology would be a giant effort. 

Their intentional preparation underscores the universal truth that mindset precedes behavior in any successful, transformational change. 

Here are a few of the lessons you can learn from the leaders at this biotech company in advancing your own mindset

  1. The leaders understood they had to focus on the people for the change to stick.  
  1. They knew it takes time and focus to build interest, excitement, and engagement in the new technology.  
  1. They understood that people needed to know the path from beginning to end, and their understanding of the benefits would encourage their support in the change effort.  

When people adopt new technology, they will become interested in seeing more and learning how to use it with some excitement. When people are fully ready, they will see how the new technology will improve their team. Then, people will take full ownership of the new technology, setting up your transformation for the longevity it needs to become lasting change. 

Discover how the story ends! Read part three to gain first-hand insight into solving common PPM transformation challenges.

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Written by Debra Aizikovitz

With 30+ years in the project portfolio management field and an emphasis on strategic planning, Debra is a key thought leader who will help customers drive their enterprise strategic planning and delivery of investments to become a strategic planning powerhouse with a touch of organizational change management.