My first large-scale change initiative involved moving Charles Schwab’s Creative Services department from a paper-based workflow to a completely online workflow while also integrating multiple Creative groups (added through acquisition) into a standard process. It was a 2-year project that was chock-full of learnings.
One of the most dramatic learnings was that of the Kimberly Effect.
Kimberly was a Traffic Manager at Schwab and was one of those people that liked things the way they were. At the same time, Kimberly (and don’t you dare call her ‘Kim’) made her feelings known loudly and broadly. In the book Power Based Selling, Kimberly would have been considered a Fox. A fox is the center of influence within a Power Base. At Charles Schwab at the time, Traffic was the Power base – nothing got done without their watchful eye, and Kimberly was the secret weapon. What makes the Kimberly Effect so powerful is that Kimberly was not even on the core team – but still carried so much influence.
In fact, Kimberly was so influential that many people secretly voiced that if Kimberly got on board, they, too, would join the change initiative. But, admittedly, I didn’t take this advice as seriously as I should have at the time.
We launched with the Core Team and did as many run-throughs, involving lots of Krispy Kreme donuts, on the Saturday before Monday’s full Launch. It went well with the Core team, but the focus quickly turned to the end users.
The full Launch went smoothly. Minor changes to workflow here or there and routing job jackets that said: “see the online system” was entertaining to note, but it worked. People seemed to embrace the change pretty quickly, and I have to admit I was surprised that there wasn’t more resistance. I didn’t connect it at the time, but the Kimberly Effect was what we saw over the course of a few short days.
What is fascinating about Kimberly was that once she embraced the technology, which I thought would take years but took days, she was why the rest of the Organization jumped on board. Kimberly wanted things the way they were because she had control. However, Kimberly quickly saw the benefit of moving to the online system – one where she had even more control and LOVED IT. And she voiced her opinion – loudly and regularly. And the rest of the Organization fell into place.
There were other reasons the implementation was a success, but Kimberly and the Kimberly Effect certainly helped matters.
Upon reflection, it was probably the right decision not to include Kimberly in the Core Team. Embracing change and working through change are different skill sets. However, we all need to consider that the Kimberly Effect exists, and though we may have leaders and core-team members accounted for, we also need to account for the influencers (lateral leaders). Lateral Leaders lead across the Organization and have the power to influence broadly. So next time you have a large-scale implementation – spend a few moments identifying the sponsors, core team members, detractors, and lateral leaders.
Where is the Kimberly Effect going to take place in your Organization?
References and Resources
Power Based Selling by Jim Holden & Ryan Kubacki