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GreenBiz Video: Change is Hard. A Conversation with a Change Management Consultancy

“At the end of the day, it’s not the organizations that change, it’s the people within them that do.”

Tiana Ritchell, Daggerwing Group Principal, sat down with Jon Smieja, VP, Circularity at GreenBiz Group to discuss the challenges organizations are facing when it comes to operationalizing their sustainability strategies, and the importance of change management in making those goals and strategies come to life. Watch the video below:


This transcript was automatically generated with artificial intelligence. It’s in the queue to go through a review with human eyes!

00:00:00:00 – 00:00:27:01
Hello and welcome to the GreenBiz Studio. I’m Jon Simieja, vice president of Circularity here at GreenBiz And I’m excited to welcome Tiana Ritchell to the studio. Tiana is an associate principal at Daggerwing Group, a global change consultancy. Tiana, great to see you and welcome to the GreenBiz Studio. Thanks for having me. All right. Well, let’s just dig right in.

00:00:27:02 – 00:00:52:06
So some folks watching this interview might not be familiar with Daggerwing. Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what sort of brought you into the sustainability space and what sets you apart? Yeah, absolutely. So Daggerwing Group is a global change consultancy and we really focus on the people side of change. We believe that at the end of the day, it’s not organizations that change, it’s really the people within them that do.

00:00:52:06 – 00:01:16:04
And so you can have the best strategy or the best process in the world, but if your people aren’t aligned, it won’t mean much. And we believe this applies to sustainability efforts as well. Many organizations have set these very ambitious goals and they know what they need to achieve. They know why they need to achieve it. But how is a bit of a different story?

00:01:16:04 – 00:01:38:23
And it requires this immense change that some organizations just don’t know how to navigate. And so we’re really passionate about using our people centric approach to change, to really to partner with them as they navigate through that. Awesome. Yeah. Something I wish I would have had when I was in corporate sustainability. Changing one mind at a time is tricky.

00:01:39:01 – 00:02:04:06
I’ve had a chance recently to read your report that you sponsored with the Harvard Harvard Business Review. I think it’s called The Emerging Strategies for Operating Operationalizing Sustainability Efforts. Can you tell us a bit about that report, some highlights and key takeaways from your work there? Yes. So we’ve been having more and more conversations over the last two or three years around sustainability and the change that’s required.

00:02:04:06 – 00:02:30:18
And we had this hypothesis that organizations were just struggling to bring these strategies to life. And it was unfortunate because they spent years and years trying to figure out what those right commitments are, what those strategies are. But then ran into a roadblock when they tried to actually operationalize it. And so we decided to partner with FBR to look into this.

00:02:30:18 – 00:03:06:06
And so the study, like you mentioned, really dug into how successful and how effective our companies in operationalizing sustainability. And we turned out turned out our pockets was right. Only about a quarter were making the progress we needed to. They were using change to actually achieve those commitments or make progress towards achieving them. But that meant three quarters or 75%, quite a lot were not doing that and they were really struggling.

00:03:06:06 – 00:03:34:13
And so I think there are three takeaways for me that I’d want to highlight. The first is that many organizations just really underestimated the complexity of a change of this scale. The second is that sustainability efforts just require a unique approach to change that is different from other changes the organization might have dealt with in the past. And so it would be a bit of a paradigm shift that needed to happen.

00:03:34:15 – 00:04:04:12
And the last thing is that sustainability efforts can’t happen in a vacuum. It would really require this holistic and systemic approach that not all organizations were taking. Yeah, it’s interesting because that I think everybody understands the hypothesis, but seeing it actually play out in some of the research is really, really important. One last question for you. It’s probably clear to all the sustainability practitioners watching this that change management is incredibly important, right?

00:04:04:14 – 00:04:27:02
But they’re still struggling in many cases. So why is it that companies are finding this shift so hard to pull off? In other words, you know what’s missing at these organizations? Why are they struggling with their strategies? I think there are a couple of common barriers that we’re seeing organizations run into. I think the first is a bit related to what I just said around this.

00:04:27:02 – 00:05:01:17
Work can’t happen in a vacuum. I think historically in organizations, they view sustainability as an initiative, something we talk about around Earth Day. It is separate from the business and for organizations to be successful, that just won’t cut it anymore. Sustainability cannot be siloed. So I think organizations need to make a concerted effort to really weave sustainability into the fabric of their business and really connect it to not only their strategy but their culture.

00:05:01:19 – 00:05:36:16
And part of doing that is breaking that accountability outside of a single individual or a single team. We work with some organizations where we go in and there is a small team of ten or 15 people that are really trying to make this work successful and they can’t do it alone. And so we need to take the steps to break that account accountability and push it across the business, across divisions, across levels, so that it feels really woven into everyone’s day to day work.

0:05:36:18 – 00:05:59:10
So that’s one thing. And I think another challenge that we’ve seen is simply talking about the work and why it matters, which turns out to not be so simple. For those of us who work in this space, it’s really easy to start using jargon and acronyms, and then people just start to tune out because we don’t know what it means.

00:05:59:12 – 00:06:43:14
And in our study, we saw a very big gap in engagement between senior leaders who are probably making decisions related to this work or accountable for this work compared to middle managers and frontline employees. And I think how we talk about it is a great contributor to that gap and so need to take steps to close the gap by using simpler, more human language and breaking down that complex by talking about the value of this work beyond just to the planet, but to the business as well, and to the individuals that really connect with them and they understand the why and then share stories along the way that brings the work to life in a

00:06:43:14 – 00:07:13:12
way that makes sense for people and can celebrate the wins that the organization is having. Now, the last thing that I’ll highlight is a little bit different, but I think we are seeing some organizations struggle to either understand or communicate how this work uniquely impacts different areas of the business that goes back to this is just a fundamentally different type of change because you can’t take a one size fits all approach.

00:07:13:14 – 00:07:46:01
Different divisions, different function, and will uniquely contribute to the commitments you’ve made. You might have one function that is focused on these three commitments for another function really contributes to a different four. And so that requires customized change approaches, tailored communications and tailored learning that really gives them the knowledge and the capabilities they need to contribute to their specific goals that then enable your overarching commitment.

00:07:46:01 – 00:08:07:20
So that’s been a struggle that I think I’ve seen as well. Yeah, that using language that different groups within an organization can latch on to us is a tricky thing. So appreciate that point. Well, thank you, Tiana, for joining us, everyone. You just heard from Tiana, Rachel, associate principal at Daggerwing Group here in the GreenBiz Studio.

00:08:07:21 – 00:08:16:14
Thanks for joining us. Thank you.

Tiana Ritchell is a Principal at Daggerwing Group. Her past experience in Human Resources and Organizational Development gives her unique insight into the human element of strategic communications and change management. She is passionate about helping companies drive cultural transformation in a way that delivers results, while speaking to employees and meeting them where they are. Outside of work, Tiana enjoys cooking for family and friends – especially traditional Italian dishes!