IACUC20 Blog Squad: The Who, What, Where, Why, When and How of Effective Change Management in an IACUC Office

There are few constants in life—one though, is change. Being able to effectively shepherd and champion a change, especially one (or many) that can have impacts over a large group of people, is a critical skill that IACUC administrators should work to hone. To start honing this skill, knowing how to effectively be a part of planning for and supporting change is crucial. It’s helpful, in doing this, to consider and understand the Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How.

Being a champion of the change is almost impossible if you do not know why this change is happening in the first place. Think about why you or your organization is making a change (the benefits, or even necessity) and the ways you can communicate that throughout the process.

One also needs to understand who this change impacts, who supports it, and who may oppose it. Being able to identify others who will champion and sponsor the change is key, since those players will help the transition go smoothly. One should also identify which other groups may contribute knowledge and resources in considering the Who part of effective change management.

The What of effective change management encompasses the identification of the change itself (is it a new policy, new IACUC chair/member, new protocol management system, etc.). Once the Why, Who, and What are identified, the details of Where, When, and How can be determined. It is possible that the Where, When, and How of a given change get identified within those Who, What, or Why pieces.

For example, when identifying when to implement changes, it is important, again, to keep in mind the Who, What, Why, and How. You might know that a new protocol management system (What) is going to begin development in June (How), with an anticipated launch date in August of the following year (When). You’ll want to clearly communicate the reasons for the change (Why) and the timeline (When) within the communication and training plans so that all stakeholders (Who) are onboard and prepared to assist with or participate in the change. Setting goals of when specific communications will be sent out or when training sessions are going to be held will also be useful for all those involved in making a change happen—be it the drivers of the change, or those impacted by the change. You might also want to ask: Where are the trainings going to be held? How will the messages get sent out to all the impacted users? How will those who oppose the change be managed?

Simply exploring all these aspects of a change can help us, as IACUC administrators, effectively break down a large process or change into achievable pieces in order to manage any change that comes our way. As my own institution continues the process of switching to an online system for our Institutional Biosafety Committee, then starting the process again with our IACUC protocol management system within the next year, I will be keeping these lessons in the forefront of my mind. My goal in doing so is to help make this rough change as smooth as possible for all involved.

Samantha Sullivan, BS, BA, is the IACUC Coordinator at Arizona State University (ASU). She received her BS in Psychology, and her BA in Business–Global Leadership, from ASU. She started her career in Research Compliance as a student worker in the Office of Research Integrity & Assurance at ASU as a student worker. That position opened up a whole new world to her, and upon graduating with her BS, she was hired on full-time as the IACUC/IBC Coordinator in 2015. With research needs expanding as ASU works towards $815M in research expenditures by 2025, the IACUC/IBC Coordinator position was split into two positions. Samantha then became the main IACUC Coordinator, and she still provides back-up support to the IBC Coordinators.

Members of PRIM&R’s Blog Squad and other guest contributors are valued members of our community willing to share their insights. The views expressed in their posts do not necessarily reflect those of PRIM&R or its employees.

Registration is now open for PRIM&R’s 2021 IACUC Conference, which will be streamed virtually April 14-16, 2021. This online event will include keynote and plenary sessions, breakout sessions, networking events, and in-depth workshops designed to help build and strengthen effective animal care and use programs, as well as provide ample opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss best practices, and work through the challenging issues that can arise when using animal models in research. Discounted early rates are available until February 4!