Change management contributes to the success of a wide range of organizational changes
“Is change management necessary for this project?”
Most often when this question is asked, the answer is yes. But the intent of the question itself is rarely regarding the true necessity of change management. Whether it is being asked by leaders, managers, project teams or employees, people are often more concerned about the resources required, perceived delays or any personal impacts.
A litmus test to explore if change management is necessary is to consider if behavior change is a major factor for the success of a project. Change management can enable the type and degree of behavior change that is expected. From discrete projects to organizational transformation, change management is the key to managing the behavior change that is necessary for success.
Concerns about change management can be addressed by determining the change management requirements of a project. So consider this action-oriented question: “What tools or methodology will enable the type and degree of behavior change that we need for the success of this change?”
Types of organizational change
Describing the type of organizational change informs the change management requirements needed to drive the expected behavior change. It is an early assessment that doesn’t just lump the project into a general category, but instead gathers the information necessary to describe the behavior change that will be expected.
To determine the type of organizational change, review the initiative from various perspectives:
- Scope: Single project or organization-wide transformation
- Timing: Anticipated or unexpected change
- Size: Number of people affected
- Degree: Gap between the current state and desired state
Each of these four perspectives is a spectrum, and the culmination of all factors indicates where the change management requirements fall on the scale of “little effort” to “lots of effort.”
Some organizational changes have consistent themes, but there are no concrete rules. For example, technology upgrades are often discrete projects that affect end users or anyone involved with inputting or analyzing the data. Mergers and acquisitions are transformational changes that affect multiple organizations (never mind external stakeholders). We can use these themes to predict the change management requirements, but the additional precision and understanding are worth the effort to complete a deeper analysis.
After describing the scope, timing, size and degree of change, we can better determine the change management requirements.
The scope of the change explains the expected complexity. Implementing a single project tends to be less complex than a transformational change that updates the processes and expectations of all business units.
Another factor is the necessity for the project to succeed. Changes that have significant contributions to strategic goals or have high involvement from senior leaders tend to demand success. Must-win projects can be simple or transformational, but the need for success contributes to complexity.
Deadlines and go-live dates are concrete definitions of the timing. Of course, not all projects have generous timelines (if any at all).
Unexpected organizational changes are a reality. The experiences of the Covid pandemic make it obvious how we have no control over the timing of some changes.
The number of people and business units affected can quantify the size of an organizational change.
The number of people outside an organization (such as vendors, clients and customers) sometimes muddle the calculations, but the proportion of people affected needs to be considered.
The degree of an organizational change measures how different things will be when the change is complete, in terms of an organization’s processes, culture and technology. This is also translated as the degree of impact on the people affected.
Assess the degree of behavior change
Quantifying the scope, timing, size and degree of the change provides basic calculations of the amount of behavior change expected:
- Minimal behavior change: Adjusting to the change is expected to be easy. Some people affected by the change may not even notice.
- Moderate behavior change: Adjusting to the change is expected to range from easy to challenging, depending on the people and how they are affected.
- Significant behavior change: Adjusting to the change is expected to be challenging for a range of business units, employees and stakeholders.
Selecting the right change management methodology and tools will address the behavior change that is necessary for success. Behavior change is not the ultimate indicator of the need for change management, but it a useful starting point to initiate conversations.
A methodology for all types of changes
Changes with minimal behavior change don’t require the same efforts as projects with significant behavior change, so a key decision is selecting the optimal methodology, tools and resources.
The variability and diversity in organizational change were the inspiration for LaMarsh Global to develop a scalable change management methodology that can be applied for all types of organizational changes.
Let data guide your decisions
Determine the change management requirements of any project through consistent and data-driven assessments. From before a project is initiated to sustaining the change, Managed Change includes a collection of assessments that guide decisions and determine the change management requirements necessary.
Use the same methodology for all types of changes
Managed Change has been applied to a wide range of organizational changes around the world. The methodology has been developed and tested to adapt according to the type of change, so practitioners can master one methodology and have clarity on approaching many kinds of engagements.
Choose the tools you need
On a practical level, change practitioners can select the tools that address the specific issues associated with the change to drive the expected degree of behaviour change. The ongoing collection and analysis of data will inform which tools to use, while allowing agility to adapt when a project’s scope or risks shift.
Manage multiple changes
Organizational changes rarely happen independently. The culmination of many changes with minimal behavior change can result in expectations for significant behavior change, but this can be difficult to capture on the project level. Managed Change is deliberate about understanding and mitigating the cumulative impacts of all changes.
Focus your efforts on what matters most
Through layers of analysis, Managed Change highlights the aspects of a change initiative that require attention. It pinpoints why change management is necessary for a project, while delivering the steps and tools to efficiently and effectively drive the acceptance and adoption of a change.
With Managed Change, you can achieve what is necessary for the success of the project. ■