How Do You Fill A Credibility Gap? Part I

How Do You Fill A Credibility Gap? Part I

Nine months after the challenging launch of HealthCare.gov we have a great example of the need for a more defined and rigorous change management process in federal agencies and beyond.

The website was designed to assist citizens with enrollment in the health care plans made available under the Affordable Care Act. Initially, it didn’t do that. The strategy for such efforts should be flexible, created with reliable data and, above all, enhance public perception to give the project credibility.

The HealthCare.gov launch failed to meet this objective. In fact, the opposite occurred. On Oct. 1, 2013, when the health care exchanges were theoretically available, citizens couldn’t sign up. In the weeks that followed, they heard a variety of messages from federal officials: “Wait a few days, the technological issues will be resolved…” “We are taking HealthCare.gov offline, it will be back available soon for sign-up…” “HealthCare.gov is available but still experiencing technical challenges…” Technical Challenge imagesCA4OJSZ2

In spite of all the difficulties, finally, remarkably, approximately eight million people were able to enroll in ACA before the April 15 deadline for the 2014 calendar year. This figure was above projections, but various reports state that the percentage of younger enrollees may have been less than was hoped.

The next enrollment period will not begin until November 15, 2014, but many questions remain:
Will technical challenges still be present during the next enrollment period?
Is it really going to work?
Will my information be safe?
Will I have access if I need to make a change?
Who is in charge?
What else aren’t they telling us about the project?

Unfortunately, these are the same questions, if on a somewhat larger scale, that are associated with any new change initiative, and the reason we approach such change with doubt and uncertainty… (to be continued)

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Victoria M. Grady is an Assistant Professor of Management, George Mason University, and principal consultant at Pivot Point Business Solutions and co-author of The Pivot Point: Success in Organizational Change.