When hearing about B2B, B2C, B2B2C, and many other acronyms – the one acronym often overlooked but still crucial is People2People, or P2P (not to be confused with Peer2Peer).
I heard this expression during an IT event focused on Salesforce, and it got me thinking – especially in the recent times of the (post) COVID era, where the noun “digitalization” has become a verb. It’s like saying: “I’ll digitalize your company, you’ll digitalize your department, and we’ll all digitalize ourselves.”
As semantic cousins, the terms “innovation” and “technology” have also been at the forefront of discussions in opinion articles, IT events, blogs, LinkedIn, and perhaps even TikTok soon.
What’s the Idea Behind P2P?
The concept of P2P (People2People) emphasizes the importance of human interaction while implementing innovation projects, such as the Salesforce ones, which means that the factors like size, complexity, or technology do not matter.
The focus of each project should range from people (often referred to as “providers”) to people (the “clients”). If these are not the main vector of a project, there’s a high probability of project failure and increased costs for the one who hired it. Therefore, P2P highlights the significance of person-to-person interactions.
In the world where technology and digitalization have become pervasive, it’s essential to maintain sight of the human element. P2P reminds us that despite advancements and automation, businesses ultimately rotate around people.
Building strong relationships, understanding customers’ needs, and providing personalized experiences are crucial for success. While there may be a multitude of acronyms – P2P serves as a reminder to prioritize and encourage meaningful human connections in the mindset of digital transformations.
People2People refers to the approach of technological innovation projects where people are the main focus. The goal is to recognize that any task is carried out by people for people. If this aspect is central, the probability of project failure is low and beneficial to the client. In summary, the general principle is that people should do projects for people, and therefore, people should be at the center of attention.
As a guiding principle, P2P is closely related to the concept of change management, which is well-known in the IT industry but often poorly implemented. I will focus on this topic, suggesting a project approach where change management focuses on people who are at the center of our strategy. But first, let me provide some context.
Context: P2P and Change Management Strategy
Innovative projects, technological transformations, technological revolution, and Industry 4.0 have been some of the headlines; however, little is said about the others. The project has failed or remained as a ‘shelved project’ – resulting in losses of hundreds of thousands of euros, demotivated teams, and discredited technologies.
Change management plays a crucial role in minimizing this risk. I’ve heard a bit of everything, but below are some typical phrases from failed projects or organizations that were not prepared for change management. Here are some funny examples:
- “You can’t use the term CRM here.”
- “I don’t know what CRM is; I was never involved in the process.”
- “I don’t trust it; my clients are in Excel.”
- “I don’t need a CRM; I have everything in my head.” (One of my favorites)
- “They don’t understand the business; it’s useless.”
- “I understand we can’t do it, but tell the management we can.”
I have many more examples from my consulting experience. These range from failed projects we had to recover, to projects where the client’s teams were not ready for such innovation, and companies where the focus was not on people but on pleasing the management. The blame tends to fall on the implementing partner or technology. However, experience has taught me that poor preparation is one of the main drivers of failed projects.
What Does Change Management Consist of and How Can Organizations Take Action?
Change management is a systematic approach to the transition or transformation of an organization’s goals, processes, or technologies. (source)
Due to the pandemic and the speed at which innovation is created, organizations are forced to change and adapt to the new times. Change involves reforming systems and processes, adopting new working methods, and implementing new technologies that meet market needs with solutions that enable managing sales teams, customer support, invoicing systems, and inventory management.
Here is where Big Tech companies come into play, offering top-of-the-line solutions like Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, and PHC. These preconceived solutions serve as a foundation for supporting various departments within a company.
The principle is correct – these tools represent the crème de la crème in information technology. However, aside from some AI exceptions, technology does not work alone. I believe these last sentences will be outdated with the way GPT is growing – it needs people to be ready and willing to adopt it. Otherwise, we will only make the Big Tech companies happy while leaving the teams behind.
And this is where our focus lies. Having top-of-the-line technology, how can change management focused on people contribute to reducing failed processes? I want to suggest some actions that apply to small and large projects. These are simple but critical principles:
- Reason: Let’s start by defining the reason why we want to implement this change – this motivation should be at the center of our communication with internal teams, so that they understand the ‘why’ behind this change. The reason could be team organization, improving our response to customers, or simply making processes more efficient that are currently being shared via email.
- Objectives: Analyzing processes should be the zeroth step before initiating any project. Here, they should analyze what they intend to optimize, map the existing processes, understand how they work, and identify their inefficiencies. The result of this exercise should provide a clear objective for the project.
- Team: As the famous African proverb goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” The team should be multidisciplinary, ensuring expertise from various areas of the organization (typically referred to as “Subject Matter Experts”).
- Involvement: Involving the right people at the right moments is crucial because if future users are part of the implementation process, they will feel responsible for its success. Otherwise, they will bear the weight of failure.
- Time: Allowing sufficient time for implementation and respecting the fact that, as the saying goes, “nine women can’t make a baby in one month.” Adding more people does not necessarily lead to faster progress. They also gave designated individuals time to experience and embrace the fundamental change without rushing what required time.
- Motivation: The experience should always be top-down; management teams should be the first to adopt and motivate the teams. If the top teams do not believe, the users won’t either.
- Communication: Ensuring effective communication at different project stages and for all stakeholders, so that everyone knows how things are progressing and what the future holds.
- Participation: We (consultants) understand technology, and you (the client) understand the business. Organizations need to identify key individuals to be part of these project teams.
- Aligning Expectations: If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. That’s why it’s essential to prioritize and align delivery expectations while respecting the teams’ capabilities at different times.
- Celebration: We are social ‘animals’, so it’s important to celebrate victories at the right moments – whether through gatherings, cakes, or prize vouchers. The creativity of each team can shine here, but what matters is celebrating and respecting these moments.
- Flexibility: Accepting that, just like in life, things don’t always go as expected – no matter how much we plan. It’s crucial to adapt to the current reality, which may differ from our existence at the project’s start date.
- Relationship: As I mentioned at the beginning, people do projects for people. Therefore, the relationship between teams (client and provider) is essential, so they can embark on this ‘mission’ together and give their best. Motivated teams are much more efficient!
These pillars can contribute to sound change management focused on people because sometimes small changes generate significant impacts.
Now, with the general ideas presented, it’s crucial to have a plan that places people as the main focus and ensures that the results are always focused on humans. The success or failure of a project lies in the teams that drive it and create opportunities for it to exist – otherwise, it won’t be possible to achieve the proposed challenges.
So let me remind you again – a project is always done by people and for people, and regardless of the right partner, what matters is the right mindset. I encourage you to focus on living People2People projects aligned with a change management strategy.