This is the fourth post in the series “5 Reasons Why a Change Management Strategy Matters“
Change management can be a buzzword. The concept of change management is often not well understood. Consequently, some change management plans can be complicated, hard to understand, and difficult to measure. Other plans may be nothing else than a change communications plan. Neither case yields effective results. But it does not have to be that way! Here are three ways to make your change management plan have a real impact on your project implementation.
I) Get clarity about the objectives of the change initiative.
Determine what is the real objective of the change initiative from the point of view of the business and the impacted stakeholders. A common mistake is to look at the technical objectives only. Make sure the objectives are clear to all involved. For example, a typical objective statement might read like this: “To implement a new customer delivery process on time and under budget.” While this may suffice for project management purposes, a more effective statement for change management purposes might read: “To reduce customer delivery time by X by simplifying the final assembly process.”
Objectives should be clearly understood and articulated so that the change management plan can directly support each objective.
II) Identify the change management needs of the initiative and link them to the business objectives.
Once the objectives are clear, it is easier to identify the change management needs. For instance, let’s say that one of the objectives is to ‘increase customer delivery by simplifying final assembly process.’ The following might be three potential change management needs associated with this objective:
- Create clarity and acceptance about the new the roles of assemblers
- Communicate changes to support groups
- Enable desired new behaviors by providing tools (job aids, workflows, etc.) to support assemblers
III) Define specific strategies to satisfy the change management needs.
Clear change management needs will help you determine specific strategies to satisfy each need in a way that is measurable. For instance, to ‘create clarity and acceptance about the new roles of assemblers,’ your plan might include involving assemblers in defining the new process or involving assemblers in defining the new roles. Involvement will have a greater result versus merely communicating the new roles through a presentation or a job description document. The latter may increase awareness but may not fulfill the need which is to create clarity or acceptance. The better the need is defined, the more precise the intervention will be.
Bottom line, effective change management plans require clear project objectives, focused and well-defined change management needs, and relevant change management strategies. It is important to have a clear linkage between each of these three aspects of the plan. Strategies should be defined in such a way that they can be measured or evaluated and linked back to the project objective.
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