Implementation Insights Blog

Implementation Management Associates help organizations around the world achieve large-scale, complex change. This blog discusses our insights into organizational change.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Improving the First Step of Organizational Change Management

Whether you are working on a large scale business transformation or any other kind of business change project, the first step is to Define the Change. For many project teams, it's a missed opportunity for aligning the technical and business objectives for the change with the human objectives.

When we start working with a project team, it is rare to find that the human objectives have been defined for the business change. The team may list key stakeholders, and may even identify impacts, but they leave out the "behaviors we seek to see" as part of the change definition.

If you aren't defining the desired behaviors up front, it's difficult to know if you have achieved adoption of the new behaviors at the end of the business change project. You can't reinforce new behaviors if you don't know what they are! Organizational change management starts with this comprehensive, compelling, and clarifying change definition.

Why don't more project teams take the time to define the human objectives for business change projects? Why invest in business transformation if you don't clearly identify the new behaviors you need?

The answer may be that the project team doesn't realize that in order to get value from the business change project, they need to start to think about the human component right from the start, not half-way through the project. We say that best practice for any business change project change definition is to develop a compelling business case for action (a BCA) that describes what you are changing, why are you changing, and what's the consequence if you aren't successful.

It's also a lot harder to define the human objectives than it is to identify business and technical objectives. But it can be done. If you are looking for increased business value realization for business change projects, look at the first step in your process. Have you fully defined the behaviors you seek to see? What are the gaps between what people are doing today, and what you want them to be doing in the future state?

If your organization is investing in business transformation or other kinds of enterprise wide business changes, don't shortchange the first step in the implementation process. Defining the change well directly relates to building readiness, generating sponsorship, building a communication plan, and reinforcing the change. Do a better job of defining the change, and you will be improving your organizational change management.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Organizational Transformation Stress is Widespread

There is one thing almost every organization today has in common; there is too much going on, and it's creating an epidemic of organizational stress. When we work with senior leaders on organizational transformation, we talk about the need for focus and prioritization of business change projects. Organizations really need to limit themselves to 3 to 5 major organizational transformation priorities.

If you have 12 priorities, how many do you really have? None!

This is a hard message for senior leaders to deal with, because they have so much focus on the design of strategies, and much less emphasis on the implementation. The design of the strategy represents about 15% of the work effort of business change projects. Implementation is 85%, and it is the really hard work of organizational transformation.

It's not unusual for senior leaders to agree to scale back priorities while they are in the room-- and then business change projects and programs start multiplying again like rabbits. Sometimes leaders will try and lump several business change projects under one program, so that it appears to be a single business change project. The fact remains, though, that organizational transformation changes are difficult enough, but when there is too much going on, with too few resources, implementation of business changes slows down and trust erodes.

When leaders understand that they have to "focus down to speed up" organizational transformation, they will be better positioned for implementation success. Organizations that truly prioritize are much more likely to implement at speed.

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