2016 started with change. I joined West Monroe Partners’ New York office in January and thus began my journey to relocate to the great city of New York. How hard could it be to make the move to NYC after living in the Washington, DC area for 16 years? I decided I needed to test out our Organizational Change Management (OCM) methodology. I assessed our move against the six lenses and used those findings to help guide our path, in addition to using some basic project management skills (like a huge Excel spreadsheet).
1. Vision & Value: Defining a clear view and desired outcomes
What did we want our NYC experience to be? What was important to make us happy? How would we know that our expectations were met? Our vision included a world where we could: 1) simplify with no cars and less ‘stuff’; 2) maximize the city lifestyle; 3) be more active; and 4) have flexibility and housing options, short and long term.
2. Leadership Alignment: Aligning key leaders on change and expected outcomes
My husband and I (the leadership team) needed to define our requirements, prioritize, and then adjust/compromise as needed to still come as close as possible to our vision. We discussed things like: 1) a one-bedroom apartment closer to the city center or two bedrooms farther out, 2) Manhattan or one of the other four boroughs, 3) walk to work or take the subway, and 4) an older building with character or a new one with amenities (like closets). In the end, we aligned on the following: 1) a one bedroom closer to the city center, 2) in Manhattan, 3) the ability to walk to work, and 4) a newer place with amenities and flexibility in moving within the building or to other properties.
3. Communication: Providing information to all stakeholders impacted by change
The number of stakeholders impacted was significant when we considered all the people and entities we would touch prior, during, and after the move. Different methods, messages, timing, and follow-up had to be considered and built into the plan. How many calls to Verizon does it take? Did you know you need an actual SSN card to get a NY driver’s license? How many visitors do you really want or can accommodate in your apartment?
4. Organizational Alignment: Aligning processes and roles to change and desired outcomes
Although the number of people in the household did not change, moving from a 3-bedroom townhouse to a 1-bedroom apartment required a definite strategy and revised processes. Who are the right people to move us? How do we handle getting rid of all the ‘extra’ stuff? Now that we’re in our new NYC place, buying toilet paper in bulk is no longer an option. Do I need all those shoes? And, the realization sets in that we’ll now need to share a bathroom!
5. Training and Support: Preparing stakeholders for change through education and support
Where is the closest Bed, Bath, and Beyond? Lowe’s? Did you know that everyone delivers all the time here?! How hard is it to set up the electronics and deal with 4 remote controls? Should we use the apartment services for challenges around mounting the TV and curtain rods? It is a constant reinforcement of new routines and way of doing things.
6. Change Readiness and Sustainability: Gauging readiness for change
We are tested on a daily basis and need to constantly recalibrate expectations. Food shopping in Manhattan is more like Europe…just in time, multiple vendors, and supplies are limited based on truck delivery days. Even with only a 4 block walk, chocolate will still melt in 95-degree weather! Instead of car noises, we hear the clippety-clop of horses settling in for the night at the stables near the Hudson after a day of pulling carriages at Central Park.
Since arriving in our new home two months ago we can sit back and compare the reality to our vision, and realize that we have executed our desired outcomes. Our apartment is centrally located and we can walk everywhere. We do not miss having cars AT ALL! We have less housework and more time for exploring the neighborhoods. After being caught once on a subway train without air conditioning, it was wonderful validation to make the decision to walk to work. And, everyone is so friendly and helpful (who says New Yorkers aren’t friendly?) Not expected, but certainly reinforcing our desire for a great NY experience!
Change management is all about asking the right questions and making sure expectations are set and communicated. For now, we both feel like we are renting a vacation home, albeit with all of our own furniture in it. Perhaps this will change, but if not, it’s my “NY state of mind”.