Nick Mountain | 30th May 2018

Business Change and Change Management: Implementing CRM as a Business Approach

In ‘Winning With Data’, we highlight Business Change and Change Management as two important elements for rightsowners beginning to implement CRM as a business approach.

Business Change is the process by which our employees (and other relevant stakeholders) adopt new ways of doing things, perhaps also adjusting their attitudes and behaviours and developing new skills as the business changes.

Change Management is about the way we support individuals affected by Business Change.

The reason it’s such an important part of implementing a CRM framework is because moving from an experience-driven business to one that is data-driven – one that uses evidence-based decision-making – involves a significant shift; a shift of attitudes, behaviour and skills.  And we have to make it easy for our stakeholders to change with our businesses.

So how do we know that it’s necessary? How do we convince our management of a need for change? I guess the answer to that is that if we didn’t have to change, we probably wouldn’t. But our fans and stakeholders are changing, and they’re demanding that we change with them. Their expectations are being shaped by the digital leaders in other industries such as Amazon, Netflix and Spotify. These are the brands we aspire to emulate (but within our own frame of reference); the ones that are repeatedly held up as champions of the understanding of customer journeys in this omnichannel/crosschannel/channel-neutral environment. Users of these brands are used to the immediacy, entertainment and engagement that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide. They like being in control of what they watch, listen to and read. They also like being in control of when they do it, and when it comes to spending their time, their attention or their money, they have an abundance of choice.

In order to address this, to give our fans what they want when they want it, not what we want them to have in our timeframe, we have to change the way we work. We have to be agile. Being agile means being flexible and having the ability to rapidly adapt and respond. And this needs to be organisation-wide.

How many rights owners do you know that sound just like that? I’d guess not many. The transformation from a traditional hierarchy, formal meetings and committees along with the politics of voting in and voting out, the pressure of needing to win each match, each week or each season are just a few reasons why change in the sports industry can be so challenging.

In 2003 psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote the book On Death And Dying, which outlined the five stages that terminally ill patients experience: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This model, later named the Kübler-Ross Change Curve, became widely accepted as valid in many situations that relate to change, including those in a work environment.

When you think this one through, you can actually understand this relationship. Consider the thoughts a stadium gate steward might go through when he hears his employer is purchasing an access control system:

1. Denial – It’ll never work, they won’t get it up and running while I’m still here.

2. Anger – I’ve worked here for 17 years, every match day, rain or shine, I’ve stood on post and now they want to replace me with a piece of kit.

3. Bargaining – If I get here half an hour earlier and don’t take a break, would you keep me on instead?

4. Depression – Why have I wasted 17 years of my life here when they clearly don’t appreciate me.

5. Acceptance – OK, so it is a pretty impressive system. Maybe they can train me to use it?

This might seem trite, but when you consider the role of all your stakeholders in making your businesses a success, including the gate steward who’s the first to greet your fans as they turn up on a match day, you can understand how and why Change Management is so important.

I personally subscribe to the view shared in a more recent work, John Kotter’s 1996 publication, Leading Change, which features his seminal 8-Step Process, which was updated and expanded in 2014. I’ve had permission from Kotter to reproduce his literature in my book, but have expanded on his words and added some sports industry context. My hope is that you can align his eight steps to your current state, whether you’re just tiptoeing around the edge of CRM and data, are at an intermediate level or have progressed to a more mature stage.

#WinningWithData will be available to purchase September 2018, register your interest here.


Business Change and Change Management: Implementing CRM as a Business Approach

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