Learning from Past Mistakes for Successful Change Programme Implementation
Peter F Gallagher, the founder and managing director of a2B Consultancy, explains the challenges facing companies undertaking a digital transformation programme and considers the role of change management in making it a success.
A critical component for any IT leader when introducing new information technology is getting organisation change adoption, ROI and that competitive edge defined in the strategy. The implementation of the new technology could be the core differentiator in a competitive market and the application of change management is the proven game changer in making this possible. Change management will support the organisation, its employee and leaders to move from the current state ‘a’ to the improved state ‘B’. It can enable and enhance implementation of the new ways of working, behaviour and adoption of the change. The assessment of previous change history can greatly provide insights on how to drive future organisational change, deliver benefits and sustainable change.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results ~ A Einstein
A Change History Assessment (CHA) can provide organisational insights that can be used to mitigate previous weaknesses and enhance previous successes. Most organisational changes require key elements to be properly resourced and managed in order for change to be successful. These elements range from: People involvement, communications and perceived future success.
1.People Involvement: Are employees involved in the change? The simple human truth is that people want (and like) to be involved in issues that affect them or they resist change.
2. Change Readiness: Was the organisation ready for the change? Change experts have emphasised the importance employee readiness to take on change. Have they developed the new skills/behaviours to adopt the change and more importantly can they take on this extra workload?
When implementing organisational change, it should be remembered that normal day-to-day business operations usually continue ~ PFG
3. Organisational Structure: Was the organisation structure in place to support the change? For the change implementation to be successful, employees may need extra support in their day to day role as they divert time and energy to the change.
4. Previous Change Success: Was previous change in your organisation successful? A good indication for future change success is to look back at previous success and then try to identify what will be different.
5. Communication: Was the previous change communicated succinctly, clearly and repeatedly? Communication is one of the biggest single success factors in implementing the change. Our data from a global Change History Assessment (CHA) survey, which included employees from over 25 countries and organisations, shows communication as the lowest score of all ten key elements. If you think you are communicating enough, then multiple this by ten. No matter how well you believe you are doing, the message does not always get through to the target audience.
Effective change communication is at the heart of successful change, it acts like the blood in our bodies, but instead of supplying vital oxygen and nutrients, communication supplies information and motivation to the impacted stakeholders ~ PFG
6. Organisation Work Load: Was work load considered during organisational change? Work load should be a key consideration when changing existing processes.
7. Sponsor Support: Was there active Sponsor Support for organisational change? Sponsorship is probably the singular most important element in any change journey. Without effective and proactive project sponsorship, the project will eventually fail.
8. Change Approach: Was the change approach soft, with interventions and a resistance strategy? Is it a ‘Tell’ or a ‘Sell’? Compliance changes are usually a ‘Tell’, especially if they are GDPR/legal/regulatory or safety related, while business improvements are a ‘Sell’ and usually about winning hearts and minds.
9. Change Resources: Were change Management Resources a part of the change? Success can be enhanced if change agents and a change methodology are put in place to support the change transition.
10. Perceived Future Success: Will future Change Management be successful? People will assess their organisation’s future success from previous change experience and knowledge.
For future change management success, analyse previous organisation change history, to mitigate previous weakness and enhance previous success ~ PFG
Mitigating previous change weakness: Two opportunities conveyed from our CHA survey results that can mitigate repeated failure from change implementation success are:
Organisational Work Load: Strong consideration should be given to balancing normal day to day organisational operations, as any additional work puts stress on the organisation. Almost every year the organisation will have legal/regulatory compliance changes and any strategic business improvement change adds further organisation stress.
Sponsorship: For change to be a sustainable success, the Sponsor has three critical tasks. Firstly, ‘Say’- communicating the business case for the change to all affected stakeholders. Secondly, ‘Support’ – the Sponsor starts to actively and overtly support the change by providing resources. Finally, ‘Sustain’ – here the Sponsor will reinforce the change. This task is critical for the organisation to deliver value and achieve strategic goals.
Enhance previous change success: Our survey provided positive data in the following elements, these could be further built upon to further enhance future change:
Change Involvement: This element scored the highest in our survey, as people indicated they were given the opportunity to be involved or to provide input “prior” to the last change in their organisation.
Future Change Success: Our survey data indicated that the majority of people were positive about change. Employees indicated they understood the key principles of change management and that future change implementation in their organisation would be a success.