Change indeed is fundamental in life. Pressures to change can be obvious or implicit. In fact Pantea (n.d) of the University of Aard, Romania suggested that underlying the Lewin’s Change Process model is that the change process eventually involves a learning experience as well as the expediency to abandon the “current attitudes, behaviors, or organizational practices”. Managers are expected to anticipate and direct a change process so that organizations can benefit from it.
The forces of change can sometimes be intimidating and might include a forecast of changing economic conditions, changing consumer preferences, technological and scientific factors, globalization and competition, and last but not the least, changes in the legal landscape.
Response to the forces of change may require strategic change or operational change. Strategic change is organizational-wide and has to do with organizational transformation. While strategic change has a long term focus, operational change has an immediate effect on working arrangements within a part of the organization. The operational change focuses on elements like new systems, procedures, structures or technology. Organizational change can be static (Lewin’s model) or dynamic (Continuous Change Process Model).
Change management requires strategic thinking and planning, good implementation and stakeholder consultation. The change desired must be realistic, attainable and realistic.
Strategies for Managing Change
Before proceeding with a proposed change initiative, we need to understand in detail about:
- The organizational need for the proposed change
- The specifics details of what will change
- The benefits (and constraints, if any) of the change
- The impacts of the change
This simple guide to managing change is based on these simple but fundamental observations:
- Blueprint for change – The blueprint as the name suggests defines all the aspects of the change management. It includes the reasoning behind this change and the difference that it will create after implementing the change. The more detail and clarity we have about this, the greater the chance we have of being able to effectively communicate it to our people and customers – and the higher the probability that we will actually achieve it! In terms of how our changed organization will be different, we need to know precisely:
- The challenge with the current model. (Why?)
- The different (or the new) model. (What?)
- The steps involved in moving from the current state to the future state. (How?)
- The timeline of the change. (When?)
- Benefits of change- We must understand the benefits that the change is brining into the organization. As a change management professional, we also need to know the disadvantages that the new model will bring and the resulting tradeoffs. Additionally, we should also be aware of the rigger points of benefits realization. For each anticipated benefit we need to know the following:
- Description – The detailed understanding of the benefit
- Observation – The noticeable or measurable difference between the old and the changed model
- Measurement – It defines the measurement parameters, criteria and timing to measure
- Dependencies – We must identify the dependencies on any other projects, programs or any other factors. We should also categorize them internal or external.
- Timeline for the change – It defines the milestones for the change management plan identifying when the benefits will start realization and what is the expected life of the benefit.
- Management – Identify the responsible parties for the benefits realization plan
- Impacts of change – People – the biggest asset for any organization – are the ones who got affected by almost all of the change management. We must identify those affected and although it is not sufficient we must help them understand the change. Practically, I have always tried to utilize them in a way that the impact is minimal. One such example is to train them and use them in the project. I have always recognized the difference between an organizational change and the individual transition – the emotional dimensions that accompany these changes.
As a change executive, we must understand that the transition is not the same as change. Change on the one side is what happens to an organization or to an employee – an external factor, transition on the other side is what an employee experience – an internal factor. To understand the impact, we must
- Understand the change.
- Understand the human factor of the impact, who is losing and what.
- Communicating change – The right amount of communication at the right time and to the right audience is the only communication that is effective and will work. If any of the factors are missed or overlooked then the change management will become issue management. Over or under communication is always an issue. Based on my experience, most of the organization under-communicate. Their executives want to keep things under-wrap oftentimes leading to leaks that affect the credibility of the change and the change manager. This issue is the single largest barrier to effective workplace communication in a change management situation.
- Risks of change – Change is an affair full of risks. We must identify the risks associated with the change and how to mitigate those risks. Additionally, we must have a dedicated risk management team who not only looks after identified risks but continually monitor other factors for risks. The preparation for and the documentation of the Blueprint for change will have identified most of the risks that we may face. The risk management team must note the following in the risk register
- The detail description of the risk
- The likelihood or the probability of that risks to occurring
- The timing of the possible risks
- The impact of the risks in case that happens
Risk is assessed across various levels:
- Strategic level
- Program level
- Project level
- Operational or “business as usual” level
The risk assessment process should involve all key stakeholders who are impacted by the change and constantly reviewed.
- Steps to change – The detailed procedure that is required to make the change happen. I made a practice to create a run book for these critical and organizational levels. These activities run into thousands of lines and many times pose maintenance issues. However, it gives a good grasp of the complete process and helps me remain on the command as well at the forefront of the change. The key elements of this step include
- Your first big decision is the “Business as Usual” test – is it Incremental Change or a Step Change? If it is a step-change, then you need some form of structured methodology and people to fulfill the leadership and management roles.
- The project management-led approach is not enough. You need the wider perspective of a program-based approach to manage the links, overlaps, and dependencies between tasks and projects, and to apply the principles outlined in this guide.
- As you plan the change initiative, you need an overall schedule of all of the initiatives and projects that are going to deliver the new capabilities that will realize the benefits.
- This needs to be supported by the collation of all project documentation e.g. business case, description, dependencies, risks, deliverables, dates, etc.
- The over-riding purpose of the program plan is to ensure that nothing jeopardizes the delivery of the capabilities and realization of the benefits
- Leading and managing change – Like the change manager and the leader for this change, it is important to understand the change methodology that is right for this particular change. The adopted model can either be Lewin’s change management, ADKAR model or any other approach, the appropriate use of that model is critical for the success of the change. Any change management methodology that ignores the emotional dimension of the personal transition must be avoided for the successful management of the change. Ignoring the transition is a major cause of change resistance and change failure.
Many directors and senior managers have the emotional detachment and objectivity to make clear, sound and strategic decisions yet seem to lack the “counter-balancing” self-awareness and emotional intelligence to realize the impact of their decisions. This omission frequently [and unnecessarily] delays or jeopardizes the implementation of their strategic vision and the realization of the organizational benefits.
Change management elements: In order to understand the change management, we must know the three elements of the change management. They are
- Causes and Drivers of Change
- Impact of change and getting agreement
- Implementing change in the project (or program)
Change Management is an essential Control component of any project. You will need the following ingredients in place to make change work;
- An agreed and signed-off scope of work clearly defining the deliverables and constraints
- An agreed (and proven) change process which will take a change input (request)
- A communications forum where Changes are regularly reviewed and all impacted parties are present for comment.
- An appointed Project Board or Steering Committee where there is the authority to approve changes that impact the project beyond the authority of the project manager or project team to decide on.
Remember – Change Management is all about people. We need to identify the change and its impact and then get the right people to agree to approve or decline the change request based on facts and credible experience (sometimes).
This sounds easy but on small projects, people can get very protective of their “perceived control” or authority and the project manager may become hamstrung to make basic decisions or to manage the sometimes unreasonable requests for changes from customer’s staff. On large projects, Change Management can and often does become a full-time job with a dedicated team doing nothing else but review Change Requests and facilitate the right communications forums and approval meetings.
What You Must Know Before Implementing Change
Change is always inevitable, yet, not everyone would readily embrace it. We shall try to understand how you would implement or manage change within your business organization so that you can get what you wish to achieve out of the change.
But first, managing this is about thoughtfully planning and sensitively implementing and consulting with all the parties involved or affected by the supposed change. Only when you do this then you shall have successfully managed change. Change has to be realistic and achievable and measurable too so as to be successfully implemented.
A Few Do’s and Don’ts
One of the things that you must never do when trying to effect change in your business organization is that you must never sell change to anyone for the sake of accelerating an agreement or implementing an agreement. This way, the change is likely to have adverse effects.
You should ensure that the change is understood and managed in a way that the people involved are able to effectively cope with the change.
Finally, you must ensure that everyone who is involved in the change is aware of the change and agrees to the effects. Change is not to be imposed but should be freely embraced by the people. If you create a need for change among them, they will see the value of the change and support its implementation.
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