Assessing how ready an organization is for change is a great way to get started when tackling a major company initiative or project. Assessing change readiness helps you understand what activities related to vision development, engagement, leadership, implementation and sustainability need to be included in your workplan. If you are interested in learning more about assessing change readiness, see our article on change readiness below.
We are happy to announce our new Change Readiness Audit app for your iPhone or iPod touch. Click here to get to the app, or go to the app store and download it for free. Use it in a group of individually to assess how well things are going with your project.
For those of you reading from the Far East or Australasia, you have a new source for Change Guides training. Check out the news below about our new partnership with Willow consulting in Australia. We are excited to have this fabulous new partner!
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All the best,
Kate and Stacy
|Are We Ready for the Next Big Thing?|
All too often organizations embark on journeys to become bigger, better, or faster only to end up wondering months or even years down the road what happened to all of the money and time spent on an outcome that never was. In spite of the ample resources and energy that organizations spend trying to make change happen, upwards of 70% of all business change initiatives fail.
While the odds are against them, we have a client that is trying to become better at forecasting demand for their products. If they have a better forecast, they can create better production plans and anticipate their need for raw materials.
This new system is supposed to take a lot of the "guess work" out of their planning process. The system will capture millions of bits and pieces of data and spit out answers and solutions that are theoretically better than the answers being generated now.
The system is great, but the real concerns are around how to get people to actually use the system and use it well. How ready is our client to implement the new system? Or, more appropriately, how ready are the people who work at the organization to use the new system?
Many an organization has gone down the road of putting in new technology that automates decisions and ended up with a flop. Not only does the system need to designed, configured, and tested appropriately to match the needs of this specific business, but it also requires a lot from the people within the organization..
This technology in particular relies on people in two critical ways. First, people need to ensure that data that goes into the system is good enough to work properly or else it will fall victim to the same old "garbage in, garbage out" scenario. Second, people need to believe the outputs of the system and actually use them instead of pushing them to the side and focusing on their same old spreadsheets and Access databases.
Conducting a change readiness assessment at the very beginning of a change process helps to determine how ready, willing and able people in the organization are to undertake new and different work. It is a way to get information from people in the organization through either surveys or focus group meetings about areas important to bringing about successful change such as people's understanding of the change, the perception of the need for change, leadership of the change, engagement of people in the change, and sustainability of the change.
The assessment also engages people in the change just as it gets started. Giving people an opportunity to weigh in early on will start to build a sense of ownership across the organization that will pay off later in the project. And a change readiness assessment can help get potentially destructive perceptions and problems out in the open early so that they can be addressed.
For our client, the initial change readiness assessment will provide information that will help gauge how much and what kind of work needs to happen manage people through the change. And later on, it will help gauge the pulse of the organization, periodically, to continuously monitor progress.
Once we understand where the challenges will be in getting people to use this new system the way it is intended to be used, we can create a plan to help get people ready, willing and able to meet those challenges. How much do people know about how they will use the new system? How threatened do people feel about using technology to make decisions? Do people believe this is the right thing to be doing? The answers are important not because we want people to just "feel good". The answers are important because they drive behavior. And behavior will determine whether the new system is a winner or a waste.
|Change Guides Expands Global Reach with Strategic Partner in Australia|
Change Guides has sold their business books on managing change globally for years but a new strategic partner in Australia is helping them expand their other products and services globally.
Change Guides LLC, based in Cincinnati, OH, has signed a partnering agreement with Willow Consulting based in Brisbane, Australia.
"When we knew Willow Consulting had certified change agents in Australia we wanted to understand their methodology and how it could help us address change management issues with our customers" said Bob Cupitt, CEO of The Learning Edge International (TLEI), from their headquarters in Tasmania Australia.
"Willow Consulting recently provided change management training to our consulting group as part of TLEI taking a more strategic approach to managing change within our customer sites. The Change Guides Methodology that Willow is helping us implement, will more closely integrate our software solutions to our customer's processes. This becomes a point of differentiation for TLEI in the market," Bob Cupitt said.
Principal Consultants from Willow Consulting traveled to Cincinnati in September, 2009, to better learn the Change Guides methodology. After spending the week at the Change Guides headquarters, Willow Consulting quickly moved into discussions around a partnership. The two parties formalized the agreement in December, 2009.
"We think this could be a model for further expansion and growth" says, Stacy Aaron, Partner at Change Guides. Change Guides offers consulting, training, certification and other work support tools to help organizations successfully tackle organizational change. Kate Nelson and Stacy Aaron started Change Guides in 2005. It is a 100% women owned business.
Q&A: In Your Shoes
A few words from Leo Wilson, Principal of Willow Business Consulting - Change Guides' newest global partner
I have found it is very easy for a project to lose its way. If you are lucky this will happen early in the proceedings which will give you time to take corrective action and move on. If you are not so lucky, the lack of direction may not surface until the change is almost implemented. How can this happen in a well planned project? Very easily! It happens because we forget to continually ask ourselves why we are doing this. We allow personal agendas to direct proceedings. We allow the technology to get in the way. And we forget to engage leaders in continually communicating with the functional teams to ensure the overall organization objectives are being met. Tools such as the Stakeholder Analysis, Commitment Assessment and Leadership Alignment provide ideal ways of assessing the organizations eagerness to link the operational project to the strategic intent.
A project with clear operational outcomes that are linked to the organizations strategic intent is guaranteed to succeed - right? Wrong! I found that it is equally important to realize that resistance to change is inevitable and we must be prepared for it. Following the certification in change management I felt it necessary to develop a mindset that assumes most staff in the organization that will be impacted by the change will resist it. Even the Tarzans in the team will say they are on-board early, but given time don't be surprised to see them swing back the other way. By engaging the stakeholders early I have found it is possible to unearth the reasons for resistance and so address the objections. The project stakeholders should provide insight into what resistance to expect, however I have also found that relying entirely on stakeholders input regarding resistance can provide you with a false sense of security. The Change Readiness Audit will provide pointers to pockets of resistance and is an ideal tool to calibrate the employee's attitude to change.
I now have a better understanding of the need for an organization to develop a change capability. This ability is never more evident than when staff become agents of change as opposed to 'doing change' so they can say it is done. As project leaders we can fall into the trap of wanting to close the loop on project items. The downside of this work ethic, in relation to the change management component of the project, is that managing change should be a footprint that we leave behind in the organization rather than a series of steps taken to complete a project. The Change Guides methodology helped me understand the need to address the bigger change management picture in an organization. I agree that it is hard to develop a change management capability in an organization, however if the tools and methods are explained to senior management, most will opt for the more lasting change footprint than the small change steps of a project.
What advice do you have for others trying to drive change?
My experience around implementing change since completing the change management certification can be summarized by the words 'engage early'. In all aspects of change management it is necessary to engage with stakeholders as early as possible. Ideally, this commences at the time the business case for the project is being developed. By helping business leaders understand both the value of managing change and risks associated of not managing change, the more tightly change management best practice will be integrated into the culture of the organization. By positively influencing the business case development process for a project through assessing the organizations ability to manage change early, we increase the stickiness of change best practice and so greatly increase the successful outcomes of the project. If possible, conduct a needs assessment prior to completing the business case so that change management becomes a positive input function into the Cost Benefit Analysis of the change project. I believe that if we engage early and often in the change dialogue we will greatly influence the change culture in an organization and by so doing move employees from 'doing change' to becoming effective change agents.
What one thing has helped you the most in driving change in your organization?
When talking to stakeholders about the need for change management as part of a project, focus on two phases for a start. These are the Plan and Sustain phases of the Change Guides model. Now this is not to say that the Do phase is not important or that stakeholders will not be interested in the communication strategies and transitioning work, however in the early stages of the project I have found that stakeholders have trouble coming to grips with the level of change management effort required to deliver a successful project. By helping stakeholders focus firstly on the level of planning necessary to assess the needs of the teams and then when they have a grasp of this effort have them visualize what outcomes they see as the desired future state for the project or function. I ask them to describe how they see the new structure or the optimized results they are looking for. Once we have discussed in detail the planning phase and then the desired outcomes they are more open to wanting to be involved in the specific communication activities.
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May 21, 2010