When Big Change is Coming, the Little Things Matter

Pam Weppler, MA, PMP, CSSBB, Rho

Pam Weppler, MA, PMP, CSSBB, Rho

Who knew that tiny sticky notes could have such a large impact on a change management program?

Pam Weppler, MA, PMP, CSSBB, a process and change program leader, and Ryan Bailey, MA, a senior clinical researcher, learned the power of the Post-it several years ago while leading a massive clinical trial program consolidation at Rho, Inc., a contract research organization based in Chapel Hill, N.C. To introduce the change, they hung process maps on hallway walls, inviting internal stakeholders to write notes on the maps with suggestions or concerns. The maps first appeared as a curiosity, attracting a few passersby who scanned a list of questions about the new process. The crowds grew as people gathered to offer feedback, attracting others who wanted to express their opinions too.

“The hallways were flooded with people reviewing maps and providing input,” Weppler says. “It doesn’t seem like much, but it was novel—an innovative communication pathway we hadn’t tried before.”

It was also expansive, with 48 maps—each one was 3×4 feet in size—covering the walls. Several stakeholder suggestions proved valuable to the consolidation, which was completed successfully and continues to guide the program to this day. Most importantly, managers explained in detail why certain input was not used.

“People still talk about the time we put the maps up in the hallway,” Weppler adds.

Customer engagement is a principle tenet of effective product and service marketing. Now stakeholder engagement has changed the face of change management.

Weppler and Bailey will take a deep dive on this trend and three other key components of successful change management April 28, during their session at ACRP 2018.


A Change (Management) Would Do You Good – Join Weppler, Bailey, and co-presenter Karen Kesler, PhD, Assistant Vice President, Operations, Rho, at ACRP 2018 to explore how change management practices can be incorporated into regular business operations to help clinical research organizations prepare for, adopt, and reinforce change. Speakers will present examples from a few high-impact changes their CRO underwent in the past three years and provide tools to take back and apply in your organization. View Session Details

ACRP 2018

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For attendees anticipating change and looking for better ways to manage it, or those still wondering what hit them the last time change came down the pike, the session might give some perspective. “We’d like people to come away with some ideas for how to manage change better,” Bailey says, adding that some attendees may develop “a desire to go learn more.”

With certificate and degree programs now widely available in change management, the field has come a long way as a professional discipline in the past 25 years, Bailey says. The ACRP 2018 session will certainly cover the range of strategic tools that make these educational programs successful. Yet the soft skills of change management will be front and center, Weppler adds.

The importance of finding a “safe place” for employees to express concerns when struggling with change, and of identifying “change champions” who help colleagues understand what change means to them personally—these facets of the overall process are critical, Weppler explains.

The soft sills are important, notes Bailey, because if an organization is going through change and “you pretend like everything is OK when it’s not, then you are going to have problems later on.”

Author: Matthew Harrington, Freelance Contributor