The following story was told by Janine Pesci, director of talent development at global architecture, design, planning, and consulting firm Gensler.
Client: A large international design firm with approximately 2,400 employees in more than 33 locations worldwide
Problem: The company was embracing both a philosophical and technical shift in its approach to designing and delivering client work, requiring a move to a new virtual format called building information modeling (BIM). Approximately 1,800 technical staff needed to be trained in a new platform, tool, and vernacular. Gensler also faced the challenge of communicating the change to its external partners, clients, and the larger industry.
Cause: Previously, Gensler had used 2D computer animated design software called CAD. In 2006, the company implemented the new 3D platform REVIT. Gensler is currently using this software to design Shanghai Tower, the second-tallest building in the world and the tallest building in Asia. The company coined the change management initiative "The REVIT Revolution."
Methods/Tools: Training was Gensler's first change management method. The company's learning department—called the talent development studio—is composed of four employees and was established four years ago. The bulk of the company's learning support comes from internal employees who volunteer their time on learning councils located in each of the company's seven regions. Each workplace hosts an office learning committee led by a coordinator who manages learning initiatives in her office. Gensler used this preexisting network to disseminate the REVIT training, which included live classroom sessions, REVIT computer labs with online tutorials, textbook study options, videos, activities, and post-training surveys. Gensler tasked employees in the firm who were REVIT experts to dedicate their time to leading the REVIT training efforts.
Gensler also used a leadership and advocacy strategy during the change process. The company designated REVIT champions or advocates for the new software, including senior team members, administration leaders, board members, and CAD software leaders.
Finally, Gensler established a communication plan to disseminate information about the change. One of the firm's goals in the process was to become industry thought leaders with the execution of this change, which was new not only to the company but to the profession as a whole.
Results: Of the 1,800 technical employees, 1,000 are currently using the new technology. In a very short period, employees have adopted the software and adapted to this change.
Lesson Learned: Effective change management programs ensure senior management support; engage program champions; and include rigorous preparation, planning, and training processes.