Organizations are, quite simply, made up of social interactions: groups of people. Organizations will not change if people do not change. There is no such thing as organization change, they don’t change, people change.
All change: transformation, business process reengineering, technology implementation, mergers & acquisitions, Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, strategic planning or, if you prefer: downsizing, rightsizing, restructuring, reengineering, redesign, flattening of the organization, and self-managed work teams are all examples of organization change.
What are the common themes between them? All of them rely on people for success; the best process is useless if people don’t routinely follow the process; the best technology has no use if people don’t plug it in and use it to its capability.
WIIFT — What’s in it For Them
It is people at the heart of organization change. People are the key to any of the above organization changes. Whether strategic or tactical, mandated or self-initiated, change happens in organizations with or without warning. What becomes important is proper planning for change to succeed. And what rarely is factored for, in for too many change projects, is the most important variable to change and transformation success: people.
It’s not the strongest species that survive, or the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change. [I can not find proof Charles Darwin ever said this, so I won't quote him, though I will co-op it.]
Why is it transformation projects succeed or gain institutional resilience only 10% to 20% of the time and that long-term,institutional rates of change success even smaller? Do these small rates of success justify the capital expense and effort to attempt change without a proper change management plan; it seems like executive insanity to ever sign off on without identification of and full review of a change management plan.
To put it more clearly: it is executive irresponsibility to not review a change management plan before, during, and throughout any enterprise-impacting project. Executive blessing for any project without a concrete change plan, puts the firm’s investment at risk. Also, the risk of going forward without a change plan adds unnecessary risk to all stakeholders to a degree that any project launch without a change management plan can only be labelled executive hubris.
People Act According to Their Plan
Planned or unplanned, clearly there are a sea of conditions that force organization change. Change can come from any front: outside conditions, a new mission, new mandates, new technologies, and organizational growth. These are all drivers and all compelling reasons for organizations to change, but how can you increase the odds that change will succeed?
No organization can maintain or remain the same and hope to compete, let alone survive. You can dramatically increase the odds of change success with a dedicated change management strategy. Let’s begin with what change management is:
- Change management includes the tools, techniques, and process to manages the people-side of a business change in order to achieve the required business outcome and realize that business solution effectively within the social infrastructure of the workplace
- Change management gets results by:
- building sponsorship,
- creating leaders who will act as change agents, and
- changing behaviors in front-line teams and individual employees in business units
If only 10% to 20% of projects succeed, do you believe change management stewardship is fully accounted for before launch?
Ask yourself when you review procedures of a business process reengineering project, a new technology implementation, or a strategic planning implementation what ratio (financial, budget, goals, metrics, communications) of that implementation’s resources dedicated to the human element of change?
Plan for People, not Process
What part of the plan is set aside to help people, those responsible, accountable, and within the very processes and charged to succeed using the new technology we perceive will deliver success. You may find clear procedures in place for process or technology implementation, but what percentage is allotted for change management?
Has your team built a process to assure project success to run in concert with present transformation projects built to increase success odds?
What does change management account for?
The focus of change management is the human and social side of the organization. Organizations are, quite simply, made up of social interactions and groups of people. The foundation of change management:
- create reasons that compel the need for change,
- what the change will deliver,
- what an employee is expected to do as a result of the change,
- how someone can contribute to the changed organizations success, and
- how each person’s job is affected in the change
Change management is crucial to how the organization will embrace and institutionalize the change. You need to devote the same energy and discipline to data collection, analysis, planning and implementation for organizational changes as devoted to process and technology changes.
Be mindful when you move from a 10% chance of success to a 100% chance of success, your change project not only succeeds, but as it becomes institutionalized, your organization is now more flexible and better prepared for future change(s).
No doubt I got some things wrong, or left out some important ideas. Please let me know what you think and suggestions you have for me to add value.