If you knew that your proposed transformation project has only a 30% chance of success, would you risk taking it on? Would you expose your organization to months of fruitless effort and significant costs? Furthermore, what opportunities could be lost while resources are allocated towards a transformation initiative that doesn’t end up delivering? Learn why change management is integral to successful projects.
Since the 1970s, the odds that large projects will fully realize the benefits intended remain low at one in three. And yet, companies have directed significant resources of training, education and tools towards the problem for decades.
What are the differentiators between initiatives that make an impact and those that fizzle? How does your change program become one of the 30% that delivers on its promise?
You need to focus on change management!
People before processes
Fundamentally, change management will achieve better outcomes if you fit the process to the people, and not the other way around.
While change at the project level does require the systematic application of structured processes to achieve transformation, it is not enough simply to follow a prescribed methodology. If your team doesn’t believe in the project, you’ll never get the kind of dedicated effort change requires.
It’s far more effective to engage people on a shared journey, rather than declare change from an ivory tower. After all, change management is about solving problems that employees have appreciable experience with.
Commit to a project professional
If you don’t assign a specific person to lead your change management/transformation effort, it’s unlikely it will be completed. And having a dedicated resource also gives the whole team a clear point of focus.
Secondly, the person leading the change management project needs to have both the capacity, experience and expertise to ensure that change activities occur in a rigorous and systematic way. The project professional may come from within your organization or be hired as a dedicated, delivery-focused leader to fill gaps in skills or capacity. The change leader should also sit on the business’s executive team, frequently connect with the CEO to report on progress and bring up any items that require decisions to resolve.
To make progress, expect accountability
Assign accountability to your transformation leader. They should hold disciplined and regular meetings with teams from all areas of activities for the project. Once expectations are agreed upon, the change management leader’s role is to follow up, assess performance, and provide feedback and meaningful positive or negative consequences. To form an effective accountability loop, it’s vital that there be transparency in business processes and decision-making to all involved.
Measure the transformation
Whether change is being driven by technology, regulatory demands, new products and services, or a need to deliver efficiencies or migrate operations, an experienced change management professional will employ the rigor, tools and methodology needed to drive employee adoption and create value.
Metrics and measurement demonstrate whether a change management project is making progress. This is especially important in projects which may take years to implement. Relating progress to individual employees and teams will help continue to motivate them over long periods.
Although the types of measurements should be customized to each specific project, in general, your measuring strategy should report on individual, organizational and change management performance. By constantly tracking performance and making the evidence readily available to all participating in the change, you’ll be able to see trends, recognize delays and understand the impact of activities. Appropriate pivots can then be made in a timely fashion, before too much time or costs slip by.
The odds of successfully executing business transformation are low, but knowing how risky it is can be the impetus that drives a methodical and execution-focused approach. Designating experienced leadership to implement structured, vigorous change management processes that meaningfully engage employees will make all the difference in whether an initiative reaches intended goals, or falls short.
About the Author
Ashiq Ahamed is the Founder of SolvedAF Consulting Inc., a boutique consulting firm providing fractional CIO and digital transformation services. As Principal, he leads the implementation of various programs and projects that increase innovation across businesses. Learn more about SolvedAF at www.solvedaf.com.
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