A new guide for improving change management maturity

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A lot of organizations are increasingly focused on improving overall change maturity. Rather than simply executing projects on an ad hoc basis, organizations are realizing that building change capability is not only necessary but also, can be a competitive advantage.  More mature organizations are able to respond to market forces and implement strategies faster and more effectively.

The 2 most popular change maturity models are 1) the Change Management Institute (CMI) Change Maturity Model, and 2) Prosci’s Change Management Maturity Model. Both of these models are centred around 5 levels of maturity.  These 5 levels are organizational competency levels.  In the following, we will look briefly at each of the models.

A. CMI Change Maturity Model

The Change Management Institute (CMI) Change Maturity model is based on 3 functional levels where maturity may be built.  This includes project change management, business change readiness and strategic change leadership.  There are 5 maturity levels in each of these functions, starting from Level 1 which is considered foundational, though to Level 5 which is the most advanced.  This is a very useful maturity model as it postulates that to build effective change maturity one needs to focus on not just project execution, but also building change capability and readiness within the business.  It also calls out change leadership and governance is also critical in driving change maturity.

B. Prosci Change Maturity Model

The Prosci change maturity model is based on a generic model of change management competency for an organization without specific reference to particular functional areas per se.  The model references mainly the areas around project execution, business capability and readiness, and senior change leadership.  A key part of change maturity is a formalized set of change management practices including wide-spread organizational acknowledgment and formalized methodology.   A central part of increasing maturity is change management training.

Both models refer to project, business and change leadership elements in driving change maturity.  However, the CMI model has a broader acknowledgment around the importance of agile, continuous improvement as a sign of maturity.  Another part of maturity is developing the right cadence, business processes, and governance.  Whereas, for the Prosci model, there is less specific coverage in truly embedding change practices within the organization through the abovementioned supporting processes.  There is also a very strong focus on implementing initiatives.

Teem discussing project at Kanban board

What is missing in the current change maturity models?

The gap in the current change maturity models is in truly embedding change management principles and practices within the organization.  Embedding change management within the organizations is not just about driving all that is necessary to implement initiatives.  It is also not just about building change capabilities to support initiatives in leaders and employees.   It is about working with various functions across the organization to embed change management principles and practices. This includes wide-ranging functions or departments such as Risk Management, Marketing, Strategy and Human Resources.

By working with different parts of the organization, we start to build change capability holistically.  Again, this is not just about individual capabilities.  It is also about the ability to apply change management principles and practices within different functional areas.  When this happens across the organization, we start to have practices, capabilities and supporting processes and structures to support continuous change.

In the below, we examine examples of how change management principles and practices may be embedded and applied within 7 functions, including Risk Management, Strategy, and planning, Operations, Project Management, Human Resources, Technology, and Marketing.

1. Risk Management

How are change management principles and practices applied in risk management?  Risk management includes the assessment of change risks.  This includes a variety of risks such as the ability execute changes, the pace of changes as well as the magnitude of changes.

Risk professionals may be able to leverage from change management analytics to make data-based risk assessments.  This includes analytics such as business readiness indicators. However, even more valuable, would be the level of change impact on the organization and customers.  Armed with change impact data, the risk professional is able to make data-based assessments and better support the business in understanding risk profiles.  Through this, the business can also make better decisions.  For example, with significant change impacts and limited change capacity, this may significantly increase the risk profile for successful business execution and performance.

2. Strategy and planning

Strategy formulation is usually focused on meeting industry and environmental challenges in reaching organizational goals.  Often, this involves trends and data such as financial and other organizational data.  A key part of strategy formulation should also be taking into account change capability of the organization.  This includes the availability of change leadership talent at different levels within the organization.  The capability of strategy execution, including the ability to execute at the level of change velocity and change volume as designed in the strategy.

Strategic roadmaps should take into account historical data on how the organization has executed particular volumes and velocity of change. For example, with The Change Compass, strategy practitioners may analyze historical business performance factors and the respective change impact volumes and pace over time.  Insight from this data is critical in effective planning. There is often very different data set with different parts of the business.  It could be that a more change mature part of the business is able to undergo a higher volume of change and still meet performance targets, whilst another business unit struggles under similar change volume.

Effective strategy execution planning should also take into account supporting structures and processes required in successful execution. These include governance structures, reporting, cadence, and even communities of practice.  All of these can be effectively designed to build successful change execution.

3. Operations

Change Management is a core part of Operations.  Therefore, there are lots of natural opportunities to leverage change best practices within Operations.  This includes building change management capabilities in employees and managers.  It also includes building effective employee engagement channels, as well as effective learning and development mechanisms.

With the right change data and analytics, Operations is able to effectively plan for business delivery.  For example, with analytics from The Change Compass, Operations may be able to make predictive assessment of the impact on business performance as a result of change impacts forecasted.  Historical data on change impact levels and performance results become powerful predictors of future performance.  Key decision making will then need to balance the need to drive change velocity, benefits targeted, and balancing business performance.

How this analysis and decision-making process becomes systematized and embedded within the operating cadence is key.  Those Operations functions that have built in the right processes are able to generate better insights and better decisions. They are also able to have more valuable conversations on change capacity, change maturity, and business performance management.

4. Project Management

This is probably the most understood of all functions in terms of the role of change management.  Most large organizations have change managers delivering various projects.  Some have portfolio change managers and even enterprise change manager role.  Most parts of change management work as represented in this function, including change capability building, change methodology, portfolio management, and project delivery.

5. Human Resources

Human Resources is another area where there is a natural application of change management.  Change Management professionals sometimes report to the Human Resources function. Human Resources Managers and Business Partners are also increasingly tasked with leading and supporting the people side of change.

Building change management capability is often a key part of a learning and development function.  Training courses, as well as change management frameworks, are devised to support people leaders or those impacted by change.  Counselling and career advice are typical support services for those whose jobs are impacted by change.

However, there is significant value in managing restructuring initiatives as a change project where typical change management rigour is applied.  This includes change impact assessment, change plan, stakeholder analysis, etc. A structured approach will avoid significant failings such as insufficiently engaging impacted stakeholders or inadequately mapping out processes, systems, and supporting structures impacted by the change.

6. Technology

Project change management professionals sometimes report to Technology business units in undertaking change support for technology projects.  However, the value of change can extend beyond this.  Often only large projects are staffed with change support.  A significant portion of technology changes impact stakeholders and/or users.  However, due to the lack of change management skills organizations often experienced badly implemented technology initiatives that fail to consider user and stakeholder impacts.

There is also opportunity to leverage organizational change management practices in technical change management.  With the right organizational change management data analytics, the technical release management function may better releases and deployments.  Technical releases have organizational implications and the two disciplines can be better linked for better planning.  For example, with quantitative change impact data, there can be longer-term planning on when technical releases will make sense, taking into account organizational impacts.

7. Marketing and customer experience

Change management practices of analyzing customer change impacts should be a key component of Marketing and customer experience professionals.  With effective stakeholder alignment and engagement the Marketing function can also better line up the organization around the external positioning of the company and what it stands for.  Marketing campaigns, product launches, and communications should also embed standard change management practices such as impact assessment, change analytics, change loading analysis, and change planning.  In this way, the organization can truly work towards becoming what it is touting to the customer.

Organizations often claim that the customer is their number one focus.  However, how many organizations truly have an integrated view of the various change impacts on the customer?  This should take into account both the changes the organization is driving as well as other changes the customer may be undergoing with market or industry changes or trends.

This article has outlined some examples of how change management principles and practices may be applied to a range of functions to help develop the overall change maturity of the whole organization.  Change maturity is not just about developing stand-alone methodologies for projects and managers.  It is not just about supporting the delivery of initiatives.  The value of change in its most mature state comes when it is truly embedded within various parts of the organization.

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