Successful change implementation in organizations? These are the 4 components to hold it up.
*Infographic inspired by Braden Kelley's Five Keys to Successful Change and reproduced with permission
By Catherine Adenle
Recently I came across Braden Kelley’s Five Keys to Successful Change as part of a sneak preview of his upcoming new book, Charting Change (Feb 2016). I found it compelling and wanted to share it with you and expand upon it further with some of my own thoughts.
For successful change implementation in organizations, there are 4 main components serving as pillars holding up the change. These pillars are various distinct phases of change -- planning, leadership, management, and maintenance of change.
Treating change as a process should be a central factor of change and its management in all organizations. By breaking change down into these distinct phases (planning, leadership, management, and maintenance), organizations can create roles and responsibilities, customize and tailor the approach to change to ensure that employees successfully adopt change.
Change Ready Organizations Survive
Today’s business landscape is Darwinian! In these times of economic volatility, competitors are moving at lightning speed. They are agile and highly innovative. Their products and services get quickly upgraded, changed or even eliminated through constant continuous improvement initiatives.
Those organizations that identify new opportunities and take quick actions to capture them are the ones surviving. Those who learn to make successful change implementation happen are doing it over and over and they are thriving. In other words, organizations must learn how to change and treat these 4 key change components as their number one mission-critical discipline for change. The winners and losers of today’s global competition are determined by one common factor and that factor is Change.
The most successful organizations and leaders are not fearful of making changes because they always change ready. They have the skills as well as the main components required to drive and execute any successful change. It’s known that successful change implementation only happens through possessing change management skills and the rudimentary know-how of change implementation. These two things in organizations increase the likelihood of quick innovation and transition success rate by up to 49%.
A change-ready organization embraces these cultural norms and displays these characteristics:
These 4 main components of change as highlighted on the Infographic above are critical to organizations given that a poorly executed change initiative can greatly damage organizations’ good intentions. A failed change effort will make employees confused, unhappy and doubtful of future change initiatives. Most of all, change initiatives that are poorly executed can drive stress which can decrease employees’ performance by about 12%.
4 Components of Successful Change Implementation in Organizations
Having a plan for change in organizations should mean realigning some employees’ job roles and responsibilities in order to make change initiatives successful.
For a major change initiative, individuals who are responsible for change execution must not keep doing everything they were doing before and then expected to simply add or pile on the new change initiative work and responsibilities on top of their already overwhelming list of things to do daily at work.
One of the reasons why so many change initiatives fail is that leaders keep adding more work on the plates of employees in charge of change. They also add more work to their own plates but forget to focus more on the change at hand. However, in order for successful change implementation to happen, organizations need to create the space, roles, responsibilities, resources, and capacity for change to occur and stick.
For successful change implementation in organizations, these are 4 vital inter-related components:
Identifying and indicating ‘who will do what,’ ‘how,’ and ‘by when’ before embarking on change will ensure that change is successfully implemented.
Successful Change Implementation in Organizations: Roles and Responsibilities
To embark on any successful change implementation, the change should not just begin with projects and initiatives. Change may happen as a result of continuous improvement projects or initiatives, but change implementation must not start via a project. Otherwise, change messages will be lost and people will forget that change does not happen instantaneously.
Change is a process and should be treated so. The easiest and most rudimentary approach to understanding change is to break it down into different, understandable elements following three states of change. These are the current state, the transition state, and the future state.
1. Change Planning – This is where the roadmap of change is put together. The individuals here don’t live in the future state, they plough the way to get there. For successful change implementation, whoever is in charge of this phase of change plans, creates and explains the roadmap of change, its objectives, goals and success measurement.
As most change management challenges are tied to the current state, for this phase, knowledge of what is currently happening is required. There will be a collection of processes, behaviors, tools, technologies, organizational structures, responsibilities and job roles that establishes how work is currently done. The current state defines what an organization does and how. Things may not be working well for now for the organization, but things are familiar and comfortable for its employees because they know what to expect daily. Anyone responsible for change planning does not jump into the future state without painting pictures of how to get there through change. They aim to move everyone to the future state and they work closely with leaders to craft the roadmap for successful change implementation.
2. Change Leadership – In most organizations, change starts from the top and because change is inherently unsettling for people at all levels of these organizations, when change is on the horizon, all eyes will turn to the leadership team for direction, support, and strength.
For successful change implementation, from the onset, leaders consciously build an organizational architecture that integrates all elements of organizational change. They know why change is necessary, they have the supporting data and know a competitive advantage that change will bring. They vet change and all the plans associated with it. They are present, visible and they provide sponsorship and support. They also walk the talk and they are in tune with the overall change initiative and activities. They have critical information and great knowledge of the current state, transition state, and future state. They always join in to celebrate change milestones and successes.
Leadership effectiveness in driving successful change implementation and innovation, along with the precursory skills needed to do so are vital. According to a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, research shows that nearly 75 percent of all organizational change programs fail because leaders don’t create the necessary groundswell of support among employees. This point to change leadership skill deficiencies as a cause, specifically, the ability to communicate appropriately and motivate others significantly influences a leader’s ability to effectively implement change and drive innovation. When organizational leadership employs a three-phase Organizational Change Management Life Cycle methodology (Processes, technology, people) and techniques to address the stages of change, change management initiatives stand a much greater chance for success.
3. Change Management – Change is both an institutional journey and a very personal one for employees. For successful change implementation in organizations, change management is the core phase of overseeing the people involved, systems, resources, and other related moving parts or activities that change needs to achieve its end goals. This phase manages and drives change transition relentlessly to ensure change remains on track, and that it is sustainable and successful. In this phase, a lot of time is spent in the transition state because of the people’s side of change.
The Transition State is often emotionally charged with emotions ranging from despair to anxiety to anger to fear to relief. During the transition state, productivity may decline if the change is not properly managed. The transition state requires employees to accept new perspectives and learn new ways of behaving, while still keeping up with their day-to-day work.
The change curve as illustrated by Michael Erickson
No change program goes completely according to plan. For this reason, change management is a must. Employees will react in unexpected ways. There will be areas of anticipated resistance and questions that require answers. Effectively managing change requires continual reassessment of its impact and the organization’s willingness and ability to adopt the next wave of transformation. Armed with the support of leaders, the involvement and inclusion of employees, real data from the field to support the change, whoever is managing change can make the adjustments necessary to maintain momentum and drive results.
The Future State is where this phase is trying to get to and can often shift while employees are trudging through the transition state. The main focus here is to reiterate that the future state is far better than the current state.
4. Change Maintenance – This phase ensures that change remains a priority. This is where the reinforcement and maintenance of change happen until it is measured, declared successful, transferred and embedded. Once an organization sees that change is happening as planned, this phase takes care of its maintenance.
Here change is evaluated through these following questions:
This phase is where lessons learned are captured to understand what might be done on future change initiatives to ensure they are more successful. When change initiatives are successful, people are more apt to adapt to change more easily in the future. They are confident in the change process in the organization overall.
Via the answers to the questions above, an organization then develops a plan to maintain the change. They also have a plan in place to evaluate the change regularly; they monitor and continue to strengthen change. This might be on a 3 or 6 months basis. However, as with any process within an organization, regular evaluation is essential to ensure the process still meets the needs of the organization.
Now that you have explored the 4 key components of successful change implementation in organizations, what else can you add? Leave your comments below.