Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Promises and Perils of Measuring Changes

The reason Change Management is challenging because it’s like trying to drive with your foot on the brake and the accelerator at the same time...

Change is inevitable, and the speed of change is accelerating! For digital organizations today, Change Management is an ongoing capability, not just a one-time initiative. If you could only manage what you measure, can you make an assessment of your "Changeability," what are the promises and perils of change measurement, and how to improve the success rate of Organizational Change Management?

Measuring is a good starting point to change: A change manager needs to assess business “changeability” and evaluate every specific scenario to create the change program success. Ultimately the success of the change program is measured by results that are important values to the organization. And the cultural adoption of these goals is part of that measure. If these values have not been clearly identified at the outset - you cannot get the true alignment of your organization and all working toward the same goals and outcomes - you lack clarity and purpose of direction for changes. Change Management is necessary and challenging when you diagnose the following symptoms, and perhaps measures are a good starting point to change:
-Change becomes necessary when an organization fails to meet its performance goals.
-"Tell me how you will measure me and I'll tell you how I will behave." People's behavior usually responds to how they are measured. Does this mean that you are applying the wrong measures at a personal and group level? Therefore, in order to detect that is not congruent with group goals. When starting the change process, measures are a good place to start the change.
-The systems are rigid and slow to adapt: The problem is actually more complex. Information systems have been built in the firm around those measures. 

Some change is very difficult to quantify and measure: There is no one size fits all change efforts, and there is no magic formula to measure change as well. Some changes are easier to quantify, but others are very difficult to measure. There are two things to take into account: Perhaps the difficulty in measuring Change Management is that the very thing we are measuring is changing. There is an inherent oxymoron in the term Change Management. We want people to change and manage/control at the same time. That's like trying to drive with your foot on the brake and the accelerator at the same time. The other consideration is that the part you are measuring is only a snapshot of the entire organizational picture. Each change effort is so different. Even two simultaneous changes going on in an organization are so varied that no cookie cutter metrics or methodologies exist to give the correct answer. Some Change Management needs to be measured via leading indicators, while others are better measured via lagging indicators. For example, employee morale can be measured in terms of retention and by surveying job satisfaction. Not all elements of change are easily quantifiable, whereas some are in terms of time efficiency and dollars saved.

There are both promises and perils of measuring changes: Change Management measures or KPI are strong tools, that can be both rewarding but also cause damage to an organization. It's not the use of KPIs per se, but the applications of those might lead to behavior that conflicts with group goals. The appropriate KPIs correctly applied can lead to significant benefits. However, the problem with many KPIs is that they are created and applied at a subordinate level without taking into consideration the possible implications for the organization as a whole. This way too often leads to suboptimal decisions which are detrimental to overall performance. Hence, when the need for change becomes apparent, the management should turn the spotlight on measures and incentives as drivers of behavior, creators of sub-optimal decisions and the eventual poor outcomes. To put simply, many measures assume that the business is the sum of pieces, but in reality, the optimal whole can make change more meaningful and sustainable.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, change is no exception. Be cautious about promises and perils of change measurement. The balanced change scoreboard helps to keep track of the process and capture the insight via top defined KPIs, measure the quality over quantity to state-of-the-art models, design the change process to execute via metrics and standards, to manage the transformation with tangible discipline.  


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