Thursday, August 23, 2018

Planning is the Earliest Stage of Change Management

 It’s critical to discover the strategic and predictive pathway to change, increase confidence, leverage resources, and engage people, to drive change continually and effortlessly.

Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the reality. In order to lead change and drive digital transformation, organizations should ride above the change curve by making the dynamic and comprehensive planning. Planning is the earliest stage of Change Management. Planning work is about stakeholder engagement and about working to achieve stakeholder ownership of the emerging strategic plan and roadmap. Engaging those who will be impacted by the change and enabling them to be part of shaping their future. That is one of the best ways of tackling change and improve its success rate.

The top leadership sponsorship: Change starts with a “sense of urgency” which can only come from the top management. The top leadership sponsorship is critical to driving strategic change and adoption. A great sponsor can overcome organizational change frictions, particularly early in the maturity. The visible and active change sponsorship is also important to focus on resource assignment, people adoption, besides communication and training. Because you can have an amazing presentation with the right stakeholders, but if the person delivering the message isn’t your sponsor or key influencer in the room, people won’t care. But where are the key influencers in the organization? They are not necessarily the formal managers with the title, but those who have strong relationships, and they can create and maintain cross-functional trust, transparency, actions, and results. It cannot be effective if arbitrary changes are being dictated from above without anyone listening to those being affected. You need to listen to their feedback and make them feel like their inputs are being listened to. If you involve them in the decision-making process, they will feel like they have some ownership of the changes and will be more cooperative and feel they have a stake in the changes succeeding. The strong sponsor is more important than the correct functional alignment. If they happen to be senior leaders regardless of the functional leadership role even better. Trust is a key determinant of success.

Have managers do a “SWOT analysis” for their business area for making an objective organizational assessment: Change is never for its own sake, it’s for making the improvement. Make a comprehensive “Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat” analysis of the business, and then transform “SWOT” analysis into a multidimensional change framework with risk-adjusted measurement in order to manage change in a structural way. People evolving in changes should be able to influence the process, and then, they are more likely to own the process and the outcome and then be part of the team that realizes the proposed changes to establish the intended new operational model. Depending on how competitive they are, publish a process performance dashboard so everyone can see how their business unit is performing compared to others, as well as how to change for achieving the best business results. Besides SWOT, some organizations add “Trends” as part of the analysis. It helps the organization take a look at what’s happening now as well as what’s coming down the pike so they can be proactive in preparing for it. Opportunities and threats cannot exist without a context of interactions, which constitutes an implicit system. So any analysis of these is at least to some degree an analysis of their contextual system and, therefore, pertinent to Systems Thinking. Through all the comprehensive analysis and in-depth understanding of the business, change can be managed effectively to achieve the expected business results.

Manage change systematically by taking the framework approach: The successful businesses are the ones that have learned WHEN change is called for and how to decide WHAT to change. It’s a systematic effort. Change cannot be just another thing that needs to be accomplished. It has to be woven into communication, process, and action of the organization, to navigate through the Change Management framework. Some small change is 'manual'- as there's command-control leadership style to push behavior adjustment, but the transformational change is the natural evolution as it needs to engage mindset shift and culture re-invention. Change Management is all about balancing the main elements impacting change such as people (the most important one), strategies, processes/procedures and IT. It’s important to have the team own a process by bringing them in early and getting their involvement in creating the big “how” process. You have to maintain and fix any imbalance in those elements by establishing a committee to change. A fine-tuned Change Management framework with clear-defined stages, decision-making parameters, performance thresholds, metrics selections, combined with an iterative learning & change process and flexible organizational structure improve Change Management effectiveness and efficiency, and thus, improve the success rate of Change Management.

Keep in mind, planning is important, but be flexible as well. A change will always involve failures as well as success. Change should be viewed as an opportunity, and Change Management needs to be people-centric. The effective Change Management effort should help to cultivate the culture of change and encourage the risk-taking attitude. It’s critical to discover the strategic and predictive pathway to change, increase confidence, leverage resources, and engage people, to drive change continually and effortlessly.


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