Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Pitfalls of Change Management

Company needs to reinvent itself, change to the fundamental business model, culture, or other critical business factors, for reaching the next level of organizational growth and maturity.

Change is continuously happening and spiraling up in such a dynamic business environment, it is nevertheless true that change itself has become unpredictable and evolutionary. Change Management is no longer one time initiative, but an iterative business continuum.

In reality, many changes especially business transformation are difficult, you have to remove roadblocks, avoid change pitfalls, get out of the “comfort zones,” and ride above the change curves. Here are some Change Management pitfalls.

Lack of senior executive sponsorship: Change happens when changing is easier than maintaining the status quo and, more importantly, when people no longer feel threatened by it. Change starts with a “sense of urgency” which can only come from the top management. A great sponsor from the top can overcome organizational change frictions, drive strategic change and adoption particularly early in the maturity. If the sponsor is him/herself the barrier, the change manager must try to identify and break those barriers.

The sponsor must be fully engaged with the change, willing to be visible, willing to lead other senior stakeholders and get ready to participate. The strong sponsor is more important than the correct functional alignment. The visible and active change sponsorship is also important to focus on resource assignment, people adoption, besides communication and training. Combined with that, Change Management is focused on execution, resistance management, and adoption leading to the realization of intended business results.

Poor stakeholder buy-in from the people most impacted by the change: We should recognize that a lot of changes are unpleasant for those impacted. Many teams try to execute change without listening or putting in the means to measure their impacts on the organization. In many global organizations, the challenges of stakeholder involvement are real for Change Management effort. The more stakeholders can impact a change capable of seriously affecting their lives, the better chance the change will achieve or exceed the target. Stakeholder involvement and engagement always makes the difficult paths easier to tread.

In practice, Change Management needs to allow the cross-functional change community to have a voice for feedback, build strong relationships with stakeholders, make the listening process simpler and any adjustments in approach easier to execute. They must be fully involved to ensure buy-in and commitment at the different levels of the organization. The democratic change process is to have the team own a process by bringing them in early and getting their involvement in creating the process for making change easier and sustain change result.

The weak value proposition in terms of business or customer impact: Change impact analysis and business readiness are two key processes that need to conduct to give the management a glimpse of what to measure periodically. The management and staff need to be working as high performing and creative teams, having both internal and external beliefs around how the business change is a movement for ennoblement and improvement, as well as the value proposition in terms of business or customer impact.

To manage end-to-end change performance, it requires the necessity to establish clear, understandable and easily calculable metrics. Keep in mind, there are numerous points-of-view and reference points of varying stakeholders such as: CXOs, board members, senior executives, middle managers, professional staff, part-time workers, unionized workforce, they all have a different view on "change." They must define the why and what the change outputs will look like, and measure things matter to ensure that the value of change will be realized and delivered by the adoption.

Value proposition failed to be translated into meaningful operational deliverables: Change is never for its own sake, there are both hard values that can be measured by dollars of cost saving or improving efficiency and soft values such as culture innovation and employee satisfaction. You must show the progress as you go along so that they can justify the investment.

The companies often need a set of deliverables so that they can justify the investment of Change Management. Deliverables are of themselves reasonably easy to describe generically, but will vary dramatically in applicability, importance, and workload to complete. Your deliverables are actually phases of activities, which act to keep your attention on the right places. Over time, these activities will prepare people for moving to a new way of working progressively. In fact, it’s important to know the value of anticipated benefits and deliverables. Subtracting cost from anticipated value gives change managers net anticipated value of the change if fully and successfully implemented.

Risk management weak: With “VUCA” digital new normal, risk management should be a key component of either strategy management or change management. It’s important to develop an effective risk management model for integrating all crucial elements such as processes, technologies, talent, communication, culture, tools, etc, to model, manage, and measure risks. 

Organizations could miss the opportunity if they get stuck in the comfort zone, only focus on operations in low-risk territories and incremental enhancements only. When they shift from a risk-avoidance to a risk management & risk intelligence mentality, they weigh risk and reward, take prudent risks and find ways to mitigate risk rather than eliminate it, and drive change large or small proactively. 

Technically, most of today’s risk management is reserved for huge and costly endeavors. The problem with this is that lack of risk awareness creates more blind spots uncovered and gaps unfilled. It’s critical to embed risk mechanism into change management processes and build change as a unique business competency.

Overall speaking, change management still has a very low success rate to meet the shareholder’s expectations. Forward-looking organizations across the vertical sectors are on the journey of strategy-driven digital transformation; it means that the company needs to reinvent itself, change to the fundamental business model, culture, or other critical business factors, avoid varying pitfalls on the way for reaching the next level of organizational growth and maturity.


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