Top 8 steps you need to take for a change initiative

change management Sep 20, 2023
change management, steps to effectively have your change initiative be successful

A change initiative generally evolves through a number of phases.

PHASE 1: THE NEED

Someone (inside or outside of the organization) identifies that things are not as they should be or could be and that something needs to be done to better align the issue, function, process, or outcomes.

PHASE 2: AUTHORITY

Someone in authority (or the board itself) authorizes that time, effort, and resources can be applied to investigate the options available to make the change. This frequently leads to a person or department being assigned the responsibility to “take the running on the issue.”

It’s customary (and extremely useful) that the authority provides an indication of the sort of state (picture of the future) that should exist after the change.

The reason for this is simple.

If a company wishes to go from revenue of, say, $100 million per annum to $120 million per annum within the next thirty-six months, then that would indicate a certain type of action. In this context, evolutionary change (i.e., continuous improvement) might be suitable while a major reengineering program costing $30 million probably could not be justified.

On the other hand, if the company wishes to grow from $100 million revenues per annum to, say, $500 million over the same time period, then that would indicate a totally different approach to the change required (i.e., revolutionary change). An investment of $30 million to achieve a net benefit $370 million is an impressive return on investment.

The desired/required outcome provides a very strong message to the person or department responsible for the change and acts as a benchmark against which the change options can be assessed.

PHASE 3: OPTIONS

The authorized person or entity reports back to the initial authorizing person or entity, arguing for a specific approach to solve the problem.

Normally, the authorizer will ask for a detailed business case that clearly identifies the following:

  • Funds the organization needs to find to pay for the project.
  • Benefits that the project will deliver to the organization.
  • Complexity of the project: Can the organization actually deliver the promise? Does the organization have a history of successfully delivering projects of this complexity?
  • Risks that the organization needs to carry until the project is completed and perhaps beyond completion.
  • Resources required for the project.
  • Time frames in which all the above will happen.
  • Likely impacts on stakeholders.

PHASE 4: THE BUSINESS CASE

The business case is submitted, refined, and eventually approved.

Approval leads to the following activities:

  • Finance is committed, sourced, and embedded in the organization’s financial and cash flow projections.
  • A project leader within the organization is identified and their role in the project is formalized (project work and normal business duty conflicts are considered, and conflict resolution strategies agreed).
  • Time away from normal work, if applicable, is understood and agreed.
  • Internal resources (i.e., people, premises, equipment) are advised or booked and committed.
  • External resources, such as consultants, premises, equipment, are appointed or booked.

PHASE 5: THE PROJECT PLAN

A project plan is developed that specifies what will be done, by whom, when, and with what outcomes/deliverables, and of course, at what cost.

The plan also identifies key milestones when certain key activity completions are due.

This plan is coordinated with all key stakeholders to ensure they are aware of what is proposed and understand how and when they are expected to participate.

PHASE 6: COMMENCEMENT

The project commences work according to the project plan. That doesn’t mean that everyone on the project commences on day 1.

It means that the tasks set for day 1 are started and everything occurs in sequence as stipulated in the plan.

Some tasks can only occur when other tasks are completed.

Therefore, making sure that these dependencies are completed as and when required, to enable following tasks to commence as scheduled, becomes critical. Otherwise, and particularly on projects that are large, corporate-wide, or involve high levels of complexity, the project can easily fall behind schedule with significant financial, resource, and delivery consequences.

PHASE 7: COMPLETION

The project is formally completed with the project team and other resources returning to normal operations.

PHASE 8: POST COMPLETION EVALUATION AND MONITORING

After the completion of the project and after the objectives of the project have had an opportunity to operate in a normal operational mode, the project’s effectiveness is assessed. This is often done by an uninvolved (in the project) internal person or by an external resource. This is often termed as the project audit.

The promised project deliverables or benefits are monitored on an ongoing basis by the business and now treated as a normal part of business operations.

Where the change initiative is considered a project, then the phasing outlined above is undertaken.

Where the change management function is considered a part of a larger project or program, then most of the change management deliberations will form part of phases 4, 5, and 6.

The change focus will largely revolve around six core objectives:

  1. Plan and initiate the change.
  2. Create awareness of the change.
  3. Engender interest in the process and the future state.
  4. Provide information about the process and the future state.
  5. Provide tools, training, and support for those involved in or

impacted by the change.

  1. Embed the change into operational and cultural norms.

Key Points

  1. Project management has a number of phases, all of which contribute to a robust project logic.
  2. Change management, as a stand-alone, will follow those phases.
  3. Change management, as part of a bigger project, is primarily involved in preparing and facilitating people to change.

Key Actions

  1. Review past projects.
  2. For each project, identify within each which of the phases was not adequately or completely undertaken.
  3. For those projects missing any of the phases, determine the impact of that omission on the project’s performance.
  4. Contemplate the implications of this assessment.

 

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Extract from the book by Cenred Harmsworth and Dr Jack Jacoby, Managing Change Initiatives

Available in Hard Back, Soft Back and eBook from Amazon.