Episode: 424 |
Sarah Locher:
The Future Change Management Project:


Sarah Locher

The Future Change Management Project

Show Notes


Sarah Locher is a Senior at Independence High School. She currently works as a Hollister Brand Agent and was chosen as one of forty employees from a national pool of 2,880 applicants. As a high school student, she conducted an impressive project on the future of Change Management. She talks about why she started the project and how she did it. 

To learn more about Sarah’s project, connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-locher-a4579b1a6/, and to download her change management research results go to https://bit.ly/3yQLMaf.

Key points include:

  • 00:46: The future change management consulting project
  • 07:42: Recruiting participants for the project
  • 12:43: Key takeaways from the research


One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman. And I’m excited to be here today with Sarah Locher, who is a high school student. And I am super impressed by her. She reached out to me on LinkedIn several months ago. And we partnered on a project that we’ll talk about today. Sarah, welcome to the show.

Sarah Locher 00:27
Hi, well, no, thank you so much for having me.

Will Bachman 00:30
So you’re not the youngest person we’ve had on the show. But my son Samuel was on the show a few weeks ago. But I’m so super impressed when you reached out to me, why don’t you just tell listeners? What is the project that you were working on?

Sarah Locher 00:46
Yes, so I’m actually in a class called AP research and a class called ASM or independent study and mentorship. And essentially, in both of these classes, I had to create one big research project, which was going to explore the career which I was interested in which for me, that was change management consulting. And after doing some research over the field, I had looked into statistics, and past articles, which side of that there was a 70% failure rate long term and change management projects. And my overall research goal was to find a way that I could create a more modernized model for the change field. And my research just aimed to give three factors which are going to be most influential on the field, in order for future researchers to be able to use these three factors and focus on these three factors and their future change projects. And so I went about creating this project, just by re messaging people through LinkedIn. And I ended up getting 111 participants. And I was able to it was all through a survey and I was able to just analyze the results that I gathered. And so it was definitely a big learning process for me, because this was the first time that I’d ever done anything like this. But it’s, it’s I’ve learned so much through it. And I’m very thankful for my research participants and the people who helped me along the journey. All right,

Will Bachman 02:16
this is amazing. So there’s a lot of stuff to go through here. So let’s talk about Well, I mean, first, I’m just curious, I had not heard of change management consulting. When I was in high school, I had not heard of management consulting, in high school. How did you hear about change management consulting? What got you interested in it?

Sarah Locher 02:39
Yeah, so I had not heard about it either. Actually, one of my friends in the class and my isn class, her father is actually in management consulting. And she had, because I was struggling to pick one field because I have a wide range of interests. And I was struggling to pick one fields of business that I wanted to focus on. And I knew that it was it was going to do something with consulting, but I wasn’t sure exactly what type. And she I actually got to interview her father. And so I got to learn some about it and decided that that was what I was going to focus on. And so after that, I actually had a mentor. And she does, she’s not in consulting. But she was a senior vice president of a company and she had experience and change management. And so just reading about different articles, and like I said, that interview, and her own experiences kind of solidified that idea in my head that that’s what I wanted to focus my project over.

Will Bachman 03:41
And remind me What’s the name of this class with with the mentorship. What was that class again?

Sarah Locher 03:46
It’s called the independent study and mentorship or issm.

Will Bachman 03:50
And what do you do in that class? You you get assigned a mentor, or you find a mentor? What, what’s that? What’s that?

Sarah Locher 03:56
Yeah, so the whole focus of the class is professional development. We’re supposed to find a career that we want to focus on in our future and then essentially create some sort of a project or research experiment, which highlights how we could be of use to the fields in the future. And so often, people in the class find mentors to guide them throughout their journey in the class. I was very fortunate to have a mentor early on, but a lot of people this year with the Coronavirus, weren’t able to find one. And I essentially was just like I said, I combined it with my other class AP research and was able to create this research project which highlighted change management consulting and what I felt that I could possibly give to the field in the future.

Will Bachman 04:46
That’s amazing. So let’s so let’s use you’re doing your research, you develop a survey, so you created a survey. And then how did you at first start working to recruit some participants? I think you said your mentor You know, start started you off.

Sarah Locher 05:01
Yeah, my mentor started me off. Like I said, I was very fortunate she reached, she emailed my survey to about 30 people or so. And I got 15 respondents, so it wasn’t that much. And that was the first issue which arose. Because obviously I couldn’t, I couldn’t give a conclusive finding results section over 15 research participants. So after that, I actually went on LinkedIn. And I messaged about 200, or 250, people just soliciting them to be a participant in my research project. And from that, I got quite a few people responded back and decided to take the survey. And I got to meet a bunch of people who were in the change management consulting field or just had positions related to change management. So that was definitely something that was very exciting for me. And then also, you were one of my research participants, thank you for that. And then you actually spread out my survey to some of the people who you have in your own network. So just from those connections that I was building, I was able to diffuse my survey to multiple people. And like I said, I ended up getting a total pool of 111 people, which was much more than I was honestly expecting.

Will Bachman 06:20
Yeah, no, I am. I was so impressed with your initiative of being a high school student, and then just reaching out to people on LinkedIn. That was awesome. How did you search for people on LinkedIn? Well, first of all, how long have you had a LinkedIn account?

Sarah Locher 06:37
Well, that’s actually a funny story. I made a LinkedIn account and probably like fourth grade. Yeah, I didn’t know what it was actually, I thought that it was like social media. Okay. All right. So I’ve had one for a while, I just had never used it before. Up until this year, I started to actually make it more professional. And so I, I was able to research or decide on my research participants, just by searching for for finder, like identifying words, for example, like I think I just put into the search, bar, change management, consulting, management, consulting, and things of that sort that just categorize along the lines of what I was hoping the research participants who I was hoping to find. And then I just read through people’s BIOS to see that they would be credible sources.

Will Bachman 07:35
And then did you send in mails or connection requests? or How did you reach out to people?

Sarah Locher 07:42
Yeah, I sent connection requests, and then each connection request, I sent a little message that essentially just said something along the lines of Hi, my name is Sarah Walker. And I was wondering if you would participate in my survey, and then after they’d added me, I gave them another longer message with more details on what the survey was and what the goal of my project was.

Will Bachman 08:05
And I think that you, you mentioned that you’re a high school student researching change management. So I think people are maybe a little bit more amenable I go, Wow, that’s pretty cool. High School student, you know, reaching out. So and then. So you reached out you, you I mean, you to get 111 participants, you probably you said you reached out to about 200 people altogether.

Sarah Locher 08:31
Yeah, I ended up messaging quite a few people, I didn’t know how many I would need. So I just sent it over and over and over again, until I felt like it was enough people. And luckily, I did end up getting more than enough. So that was, that was something that was exciting.

Will Bachman 08:47
That’s great. Now, you started building your professional network? And what did you find at some people? Did you get on the phone with some people or have conversations with any of these people who participated?

Sarah Locher 09:00
Yeah, I did get on the phone with some people, I had about eight interviews just to get more background information about the change management consulting field, because I wanted to have enough background on it to be able to write a paper, which was exhaustive over the field. So I did conduct a few interviews, not nearly as many as maybe in the future I would like to, in order to learn more about it and continue to expand upon my research. But I I definitely did learn quite a few quite a lot about from the different participants that I was in contact with. And there were so many people who were I was surprised to find that so many people were so willing to share their information with me. Like for instance, you obviously having me on this podcast today. Thank you so much. And then also other people who I message they were more than willing to just share information about their own personal experiences and share presentations or power points that they had put up for their own companies. And that was a lot of the background that I included within my own research paper.

Will Bachman 10:08
Now, how are you planning to stay in touch with these folks that, you know, participated or that accepted your connection request? You started building your professional network now in the field of management consulting. How do you figure you’ll stay in touch with all these folks?

Sarah Locher 10:28
Yeah, so like I said, I have them all on LinkedIn. And I think that LinkedIn is a great resource to have now that I know a lot more about it. I know kind of how to use it. And I’ve talked with some of the research participants since just them trying to get in contact with me to see how the the project went. And so that’s been great. And then I plan on actually, because I had some of their emails, and there were some people who wanted to see what the results section amounted to. And they wanted to have the project and its full paper, glory, I guess you could say. And so I plan on emailing that out to some of the people who asked for it. Now that I’m done with it.

Will Bachman 11:08
Okay, that’s genius. And you are going to college in the fall, right? You want to tell us where you’re going to school?

Sarah Locher 11:16
Yeah, so I will be attending the University of Southern California. And I’m actually majoring in a special program. It’s called the world bachelor in business or web. And essentially, it’s three degrees in one. So my first year, I will be attending the University of Southern California, like I said, previously, however, my second year, I’ll be attending Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. And then my third year, I’ll be attending bicone University in Milan. And so it’s a partnership between these three universities to provide about 50 students or so that are selected with this special experience in which we’re able to have a focus on global business and international business. And it’s been it’s a great opportunity, and I’m just so grateful for I’m very excited for my future. And obviously, I I it’s something that I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but I’m, I’m so thrilled for the opportunity.

Will Bachman 12:16
Yeah, it sounds like a fantastic program. Now, for your, for this particular report that you created the change management. Is this something you’d feel comfortable if we put a link in the show notes for people to download the documents so they can take a look at it? Yeah, yeah, for sure. All right. Well, we’ll do that then. You want to tell us a few words on what were some of the high level findings? What were your some some kind of key key takeaways from the research?

Sarah Locher 12:43
Yeah, so like I said, My original goal was to state three factors, which were going to be most influential upon change management projects in the future and should be focused on and future change management models. Unfortunately, my results didn’t align as well as I had hoped. Because I had a quantitative and qualitative portion, I’d hoped that the two would solidify one set conclusion. So I wasn’t able to give three factors which are most influential. However, I was able to say that confidently state that communication is highly influential on the process, and that that’s something that future models should focus on. And overall, I think that the research that I’ve created can serve as a good structure for future researchers to continue to expand off of with the structure that I used, I wasn’t able to create as details of the factor analysis as I would have liked, or even using a larger pool of participants, I think, would have helped the study to possibly result in a more conclusive finding. And so although my, my overall results weren’t as influential as I’d hoped that they would be, like I said, the whole process, I got to learn so much about not only change management, consulting, but also just how to create research. And I definitely think it’s something that’s worth other people continuing to expand upon, or even myself in the future, I’d like to continue to expand upon it.

Will Bachman 14:12
Well, even the fact I think some of the meta lessons learned or some of the other skills were probably just how to reach out on LinkedIn and get people to participate in some kind of researcher or, you know, share some of their time is something that, you know, a lot of folks have not learned, you know, even after Business School, so, how to kind of how to go through that process. So, I think that was probably a valuable learning as well beyond just the actual kind of content. Yeah, so all right. Well, again, I’m super impressed Sarah by this research, we’ll share a link in the show notes and if, if you listen or want to connect with Sarah will include her LinkedIn profile as well, so you can connect with Sarah and follow her progress. to USC and beyond. Thanks so much for being on the show today. Yeah, thank you for having me again.

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