Sunday, October 27, 2013

Three Categories of Questions to Ask When Scoping a Change Project

Either Step Forward or Leapfrogging, the Pace of Change is Changed.

Organizational change has three dimensions: (1) what's to be changed (2) what's to be left alone and (3) Understanding the goals of change is just as important as change itself. However, more than 75% of change effort has not reached expectation, is it due to lack of strategy, or fail to execute smoothly? When scoping a change project, what are the top questions you should ask? Should a series of well framed questions help make change management more as science than art, and increase the success rate?

1. The Drivers to Change 

1)     What are the business drivers? What are the imperatives that are driving the proposed change commercially, economically, politically, managerially, operationally, environmentally and ethically?

2)     Why do you need change?
a. Market/industry shifts force us to change now.
b. We are taking a calculated strategic gamble on something new for us.
c. We're undergoing an organizational shift / post-merger / new organizational  structure

3)     Which following level of organizational change are you scoping?
a. Adjusting to continuous, normal variation (general strategy is establishment of robust business/production processes.)
b. Continuous Process Improvement (aimed and perfection of an existing system. This is the traditional realm of TQM)
c. Business Process Re-engineering (used when a business process has been pretty well optimized, and advances in technology, processes, fundamental principles, or other practices allow a leap, rather than a step change. This is the realm of BPM.)
d. Organizational Transformation (this gets into the realm of culture change, realignment of rewards and recognition systems to support just a new business process, but whole interrelated sets of processes. Organization Vision, Values and Guiding Principles are fundamentally changed/updated, often under new leadership. This is the realm of OT)
e. Organizational Reinvention (a company moves from being a manufacturer to a service provider, a company is bought and its operations are subsumed, etc. This is the realm of "turn-around gurus", mergers and acquisitions managers, etc). 

2. Expected Outcomes 

1)     What outcome are you planning to achieve, what supports this objective and what are you concerned about risks in this regard?

2)     Who is this for? (Meaning all stakeholders)? What will "success" look and feel like? How will the proposed change(s) support the achievement of the organization’s purpose and vision?

3)     What is the current situation? (Meaning the good, the bad, the issues, etc.) ? What is the new situation sought? (Meaning the goal, the vision, the happy ending)?

4)     Questions about destinations - What is the expected outcome of the proposed change? What do you want this to do to your bottom-line? Where should the organization be in xx months/years? If this change project works perfectly

5)     What solutions have worked for you? What elements of the solution led to the success? What are the target business and new behavior outcomes? What would happen if this didn't happen? 

3. Strategy 

1)     What strategy will be utilized and how will it be measured? 

2)     What are the boundaries for the change (that is, what's in, and what's out)? 

3)     How will you navigate the "change journey”? Who needs to be engaged, and how? 

4)     How much pain are you willing to withstand to see this change through? or more provoking to introspection like, "What pains (obstacles) do you foresee in the process of change to achieve the outcome you desire? How do you intend to deal with them?”

5)     Shall you set up guidelines in reflecting upon current practice and highlighting what you should value can save the change project being a knee jerk reaction to difficulties

6)     If you had to pinpoint one thing that might stop it from happening, what would it be? What's working? What is it that you do really well? 

7)     How do you know when the "change initiative" is done?
a. Financial: better earnings, higher revenues, lower costs, etc. (Longest)
b. Behavioral: employees act differently, decisions made differently, etc.
c. Procedural: new policies, new protocols, new SOPs, new staff, etc. (Shortest) 

With clear understanding upon the driver to changes, well-articulated goals for change efforts, as well as a comprehensively-defined change strategy, organizations can master the change management, and become more adapt to the rapidly change environment.


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