Using change management when improving systems, processes, introducing new technology or ensuring regulatory compliance will speed implementation and employee change adoption. Without a structured approach, the change management focus can be limited to communication only, and the impact to employees, teams and the organisation is largely ignored. Good change management starts with the organisations strategy and vision and then looks at the employees, culture, previous change success, skills, behaviours, resistance, adoption and how to sustain the change. Structured change management is a holistic approach for enabling and supporting employees through the change. It requires a programme approach with a framework, steps, tools, assessments, models, skills and principles to ensure effective organisational change and benefits realisation.
Structured change management involves a framework and a programme approach:
~ Plan: Setting the programme up for success, aligning it with the strategy portfolio, ensuring there is a business case, resources and a detailed plan for delivery that considers previous organisational change success and weaknesses.
~ Execute: Implementing the change, assessing if the organisation is ready for the change, constantly communicating the change, developing new skills and behaviours and managing resistance.
~ Sustain: Sustaining adoption from the execution phase, ensuring benefits realisation and the controlled and approved closure of the programme.
Five key reasons for using a structured approach to change are outlined below:
1. Change Definition. The process of defining the change is about aligning the change programmes within the portfolio to the organisation’s strategy and vision, ensuring it has a business case and resources to deliver business benefits. This step is important because:
“Unless the change initiative is continually aligned to the organisation’s strategy it will not deliver benefits or value to the organisation”
2. Secure Sponsorship and Resources. This process step involves identifying the sponsor and other change resources who will support the sponsor during the programme. The change programme will compete for resource time against normal day-to-day operations as well as other initiatives. This step is important because:
“Without effective and proactive sponsorship, the change project will eventually fail, the change will not be adopted by the employees nor be sustained, and it will not deliver the intended benefits”
3. Previous Change. The process of a previous change assessment uses feedback from change participants to review and evaluate how prior change has been performed in the organisation, identifying what was good and bad. This step is important because:
“For future change management success, analyse organisation change history to mitigate previous weakness and enhance previous success”
4. Develop Detailed Change Plan. The process of developing the Programme Change Plan is to document the actions, timelines, milestones and resources needed to deliver the programme. It should reference elements from Step 1 - Change Definition and should align or be part of the wider organisation project plan if it includes other work streams or project delivery elements. This step is important because:
Change management is a process that must be planned so it follows a structured approach, moving the organisation from the current state ‘a’ to the future state ‘B’, aligning employees, processes and systems to achieve adoption and benefits realisation”
5. Communicate the Change. Communication about the change requires simplicity and repetition with a feedback loop. A Communications Plan should be produced which shows how information will be distributed and received by all stakeholders involved in the change programme. This step is important because:
“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” ~ Peter F Gallagher
Peter F Gallagher is a Change Management Global Thought Leader, Expert, International Speaker, Author and Leadership Alignment Coach.
Ranked #1 Change Management Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (May 2020) by Thinkers360.
Business Book Ranking: Change Management Pocket Guide - Leadership of Change® Volume 2, ranked within the top 50 Business and Technology Books (Jan 2020) from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders.