Ensuring change management supports the business (article)


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In this change management article, Derek Stockley comments on the importance of keeping the business going. Sometimes, organisations stop incremental improvements because a change is in the planning stages. This can be dangerous and is often unnecessary.

Change management success factors

In the article Achieving lasting and positive change, I outlined the critical factors to successful change implementation. This is a summary:

  • Recognise that you have to have realistic goals and objectives for the change AND for the change process.

  • Successful change programs 'piggy back' on existing systems. As soon as possible, they are integrated into existing activities and methods.

  • Successful change programs are open/participative/ involving/rewarding.

  • Successful change programs are adaptable and flexible - adjusting to new information and situations as appropriate.

  • Successful change programs involve steps - where the initial successes can be built upon.

  • Successful change programs are staffed with the people who can do the job, and who receive top level support.

These factors highlight the importance of incremental changes with an adaptable approach. There are many examples of major change programs that have been abandoned because they were too ambitious. ICT (Information Communication Technology) projects costing millions of dollars are prominent examples.

Halting progress

Often a planned change stops progress.

"We will wait for the change to be implemented before we do anything".

Sometimes waiting is appropriate. If a significant expense is involved, or a piece of equipment has to be purchased, then action might be inappropriate.

As a strong believer in continuous improvement, I sometimes believe that you can still be making adjustments to the process even if a major change is coming. Why deny a customer better service?

The time frame is important. For all sorts of reasons, delay can occur. One or two months is a long time in business today. Delay should not be an option. If the change project incorporates the principles/features outlined above, it should be possible to make changes.

Training

Delaying training can be costly.

I often have discussions with potential clients about staffing or skill problems. We will talk about a particular situation and identify a problem that training can fix. We agree that the training solution will dramatically improve current performance.

Hence my surprise when some clients then discuss scheduling the training three or four months into the future!

If you identify a problem, you should fix it. Yes, sometimes there is a logical process, particularly if a large scale training program is being planned. But if the need is now, the solution should be provided now as well.

This also applies where change is occurring. Staff need to develop their skills to be able to perform their work more efficiently and effectively. Often training will help staff through the change process. Delaying training because of a forthcoming change may be unnecessary.

Summary

You need to manage the change process as well as the change itself.

Small steps, where results can be demonstrated, are often better than radical, large scale change.

Change should not be used as an excuse to put off short-term improvements.

Staff development should still occur - it should not be put off.

Related articles

Achieving lasting and positive change - an article discussing the overall management of change, including the broad focus required and the factors critical to successful change implementation.

Implementing new business systems successfully - an article discussing the development and implementation of new ICT systems.

Continuous Improvement Approach - an introduction to continuous improvement, including career and experience influences.

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