Check out our video that explains whether it makes sense to rate changes as positive or negative.
A lot of popular change management models are old models, many of which have been shown by research to have limited efficacy in the business world. Never the less, some of these models are still referred to as the core ‘pillars’ of change management.
What are newer change management models that have been shown by research to have better validity? Refer to our infographic on what’s ‘in’ and what’s ‘out’. To read up more on these new models refer to our articles below:
Change Outcome – Virtually all organisations are undergoing change. Especially right now, with the impacts of Covid, companies are now challenged with multiple layers of driving change simultaneously. What is applicable in this situation is not about a particular methodology of implementing a change program. It is all about implementing simultaneous changes, at the same time. There is no luxury of just focusing on one change at a time, the result of competitive, industry, and environmental challenges.
As change practitioners we work closely with our colleagues in Operations to get ready for, implement, and fully embed changes. So how do our colleagues in operations view and manage change initiatives?
Operations as a function is focused on managing performance and delivery to ensure that the business runs smoothly, with little disruptions and that performance measures are achieved. Operations is focused on resource management, efficiency, and achieving the various operational indicators whether it’s customer satisfaction, turn-around time, average handling time, or cost target.
When times are hectic and there is a lot going on with multiple change initiatives, the key focus for Operations is on managing people capacity. Key questions to consider would be “Do we have sufficient time to cater for the various changes?”, and “Will we exceed our change saturation level?”. This is a critical question to answer since the business still needs to run and deliver services without negative change disruptions.
From an Operations planning perspective ‘change capacity‘ is often reduced to the time element, especially those impacting frontline staff.
- What are the times required to reschedule the call centre consultants off the phone to attend training?
- How much time is required in the team meeting agenda to outline the changes that are being rolled out?
- What is the time involvement of change champions?
Though these are all critical questions and clear answers will help Operations plan better to face into multiple changes. However this is not adequate. There is more to planning for multiple changes than just focusing on the time element.
Using the lego analogy to manage multiple changes
We all know LEGO as kids. To build a car we start one brick at a time and see how we go. We experiment with different colours, shapes and sizes. We make do with the bricks we have and use our imagination to come up with what a car would look like. Sometimes we get stuck and we may need to tweak our bricks a little, or sometimes start from scratch.
It is the same as implementing change initiatives. In order to take people along the journey, we implement a series of activities and interventions so that our impacted stakeholders are aware, ready, committed, and embed the change. The design on the change journey is the process of determining what LEGO bricks to choose. There is no short cut. It is not possible to build a building without each necessary brick to raise the building up. In implementing change, we also need to lay out each step in engaging our stakeholders.
McKinsey studies over decades have told us that one of the most critical factors to focus on in ensuring change outcome success is clear organisation-wide ownership and commitment to change across all levels. This means that when we design each change brick we need to ensure we target every level of impacted stakeholders.
Team Leaders: How often do we want Team Leaders to talk about the changes to their teams prior to the roll out? What content do we want them to use? Do they know how to translate the message in a way that resonates? Do we want them to tell compelling stories that talks to the what, why and how of the change?
Managers: How are managers made accountable? What metrics are they accountable for? What mediums do we want them to use to engage their teams? What are the consequences of not achieving the outcomes?
Senior Managers: Through what mediums do we expect senior managers to engage their teams about the changes? How do we ensure that they are personally accountable for the success of the change? How are they involved to ensure they own the change?
Looking at the above you can see that for complex change there may need to be a lot of bricks in place to ensure the change outcome is successful!
Going back to the issue of facing into multiple changes, how do we play around with the bricks to ensure that multiple changes are successful? The same way that we play with LEGO bricks!
- Look at the colours of the bricks. Do certain colours belong together? When we look across different initiatives, are there similar or common behaviours that can be better linked together to tell a compelling story? Do they support the same strategy? Can there be a joint-campaign for these changes?
- Is the overall LEGO structure going to be intact? What are the impacts of the various changes happening at the same time in terms of focus, performance and change outcome? Have we exceeded the likely ‘mental capacity’ for people to stay focused on a core set of changes at any one time? Will the pieced-together structure collapse due to having too many elements?
- Look at the sizes of the LEGO structures. During implementation when we have both larger and smaller initiatives being executed at the same time, will the larger ones overshadow the smaller ones? If so what are the risks if any?
- Re-jig or re-build parts of the LEGO structure as needed to see what it looks like. In a situation where we want to see what the changes look like before we action it, it makes sense to visualise what would happen if we move timelines or change implementation tactics
Example of data visualisation of ‘re-jigging’ change implementation timeline with The Change Compass using different scenarios.
Just like in building LEGO, for change initiatives we need to be agile and be flexible enough to play with and visualise what the change outcome could look like before pulling the trigger. We also need to be able to tweak as we go and adjust our change approaches as needed. In facing the multitude of changes that the organisation needs to be successful, we also need to be able to play with different implementation scenarios to picture how things will look like. Each brick needs to be carefully laid to reach the overall outcome.
Careful consideration also needs to be how all the bricks connect together – the analogy that the change outcomes across initiatives can be determined by how we’ve pieced together various pieces of LEGO for them to make sense, and result in the ownership and commitment of stakeholders.
Have you ever wondered why change management deliverables are structured and sequenced the way they are?
Deliverables are defined as the data that is put in use in every activity in a change-management. Besides activities, deliverables can form an integral part of any change management project.
There is an inherent logical flow from which change deliverables feed into the next. This means that subpar quality in the deliverable earlier on happens if the work is inadequately carried out. Also, this will likely flow into the rest of the deliverables.
Change deliverables start out very high-level. Earlier in the project development lifecycle, there is a lot of unknown details. Moreover, there are lots of questions that cannot be answered about the nature of the change. More details presents itself as the project progresses through each phase. Therefore, the change practitioner is able to populate and document various details. Including what the change means and how stakeholders will be impacted.
Eventually, each change deliverable contributes to the next, resulting in a detailed change plan. The change plan is a culmination of a detailed understanding. Also, it’s an assessment of the impacted stakeholders and what the changes will mean to them. Therefore, the respective change interventions that are critical to transition these stakeholders from the current to future state. Communications and engagement plan as well as learning plan also form a core part of the change plan.
Along with the change management process, they create a system for managing change. Good project managers apply these components effectively to ensure project success. Whether it’s a sudden change of personnel or an unexpectedly poor quarter; Change managers are adaptable enough to apply the appropriate changes to your plan to accommodate your company’s new needs.
For more details about the structure and flow of change deliverables download our infographic here.
Behaviour Realisation – As the world continues to struggle with Covid we are starting to see the financial fallout with businesses closing doors and others undergoing significant cuts to stay afloat. Around us, we see the effects. The front page of New York Times has been showing what life is like with Covid around the world. Those who are still in lockdown and those getting used to wearing face masks as a requirement. For the change practitioner, we need to braces ourselves for the myriad of financial implications in this challenging environment.
As companies start to tighten their belt expenditures is the first to come under fire. Project and initiative investments are naturally reviewed, consolidated, and cut to try and save money. Large companies typically invest millions to billions to execute on their strategy, maintain competitiveness, and improve the business effectiveness. Typical cuts in the project world translate to cutting project funding which means that change practitioners like other project professionals may be in the firing line.
As companies start to focus on the critical operations of the business the frequent question that gets asked is “what is the value of change management?”. “Can we save cost by cutting change management?”. Managers would already have a preconception of the value of change management when making this decision.
The challenge then becomes what is ultimately the ‘proof’ to the value of implementing effective change? Many will argue that it is that employees are more engaged, managers are communicating the right messages, that employees have the right skills, and that they feel that they are ready for the change. However, ultimately, a project has a set of benefits it is targeted to achieve and the question then becomes what ‘proof’ is that the benefits have been achieved.
For a lot of the work that change practitioners are involved in the ‘proof’ is the change in the behaviours from A to B. For example, undertaking different conversations with the customer, operating a different system, selling a new product, reporting on incidents, following the required steps in completing a form, etc. Ultimately the change in the behaviour results in the targeted benefits being achieved whether it is improved customer experience, cost savings, efficiency in operating a system, or generating greater insights through new data.
What are some of the ways to demonstrate that we are setting the course for ultimate behaviour realisation?
Clear identification of core behaviours
To be able to implement behaviour change we need to know what behaviours we are focused on changing. The trick is not to try and come up with an exhaustive list of all the various types of behaviours that need to take place in the end state. Instead, focus on the core behaviours that will make the most differences in achieving the ultimate benefit.
For example, what are the core 2-3 behaviours that leaders need to display in the end state to ensure those insights are captured and utilised to make better business decisions? It could be being confident in interpreting the data and using any system prompts as required, highlighting the insight generated in planning meetings, and using the insight to make better decisions that result in a better outcome for the organisation.
Behaviour realisation need to be measured and as we all know “what get’s measured get’s managed”. Behaviours may be measured based on a survey, observation, system reports, etc.
In order to successfully embed the new behaviour into business-as-usual ongoing tracking is required. Tracking ensures that the status of the behaviour change becomes visible and therefore becomes a goal to be focused on.
Tracking does not need to be cumbersome and overbearing. It could be as simple as incorporating the reporting into an existing weekly team meeting or a monthly planning meeting. It could also be a system-generated report that is sent to managers.
Our ultimate challenge as change practitioners in driving behaviour changes becomes even more crucial during these difficult financial times. We need to constantly demonstrate how our work directly links to benefit realisation. This may require stakeholder education. Are your stakeholders clear in terms of the importance of behaviours in reaching the benefits? Do they understand the design that has been in place to drive impacted groups toward the end state?
To find out more about driving behaviour realisation & change please go to our Ultimate Guide for Behaviour Change.
Whilst organisations plan return to office approach and the overall aftermath that is Covid on the business, here is an infographic on key project change planning considerations post-Covid.
Click here to download the infographic.