A critical component for any CEO planning a new change is the application of change management, to move the organisation from the current state ‘a’ to the improved state ‘B’. Change management is the proven game changer which will enhance implementation of the new ways of working, behaviour and adoption of the change. The history of previous changes will greatly impact future change and the ability to delivery organisational value and sustainable change.
A Change History Assessment© (CHA©) can provide organisational insights that can be used to mitigate previous weaknesses and enhance previous successes. Most organisational changes require key elements to be properly resourced and managed in order for change to be successful. These elements range from: People involvement, communications and perceived future success.
“If an organisation has a history of change failure, future success will require a different approach” ~ Peter F Gallagher
1. Employee Involvement: Are employees involved in the change? The simple human truth is that people want (and like) to be involved in issues that affect them or they resist change.
2. Change Readiness: Was the organisation ready for the change? Change experts have emphasised the importance of readiness: The three stage theory of change is commonly referred to as Unfreeze, Change, & Freeze (Credit - Lewin).
“What is the present situation? What are the dangers? And most importantly of all, what shall we do?” ~ Kurt Lewin
3. Organisation Structure: Was the organisation structure in place to support the change? For the change implementation to be successful, employees may need extra support in their day to day role as they divert time and energy to the change.
4. Previous Change Success: Was previous change in your organisation successful? A good indication for future change success is to look back at previous success and then try to identify what will be different.
5. Communication: Was the previous change communicated succinctly, clearly and repeatedly? Communication is one of the biggest single success factors in implementing the change. Our data from a 2015 global Change History Assessment© (CHA©) survey, which included employees from over 25 countries and organisations, provided the lowest score of all ten key elements. If you think you are communicating enough, then multiple this by ten. No matter how well you believe you are doing, the message does not always get through to the target audience.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” ~ Bernard Shaw
6. Organisation Work Load: Was work load considered during organisational change? Work load should be a key consideration when changing existing processes.
7. Sponsor Support: Was there active Sponsor Support for organisational change? Sponsorship is probably the singular most important element in any change journey. Without effective and proactive project sponsorship, the project will eventually fail.
8. Change Approach: Was the change approach soft, with interventions and a resistance strategy? Is it a ‘Tell’ or a ‘Sell’? Compliance changes are usually a ‘Tell’, especially if they are legal/regulatory or safety related, while business improvements are a ‘Sell’ and usually about winning hearts and minds.
9. Change Resources: Were Change Management Resources a part of the change? Success can be enhanced if change agents and a change methodology are put in place to support the change transition.
10. Perceived Future Success: Will future change management be successful? People will assess their organisations future success from previous change experience and knowledge.
“To achieve future organisational change management success, analyse previous change history to mitigate previous weakness and enhance future success” ~ Peter F Gallagher
Mitigating previous change weakness: Two opportunities conveyed from our CHA survey results that can mitigate change implementation success are:
~ Organisational Work Load: Strong consideration should be given to balancing normal day to day organisational operations, as any additional work puts stress on the organisation. Almost every year the organisation will have legal/regulatory compliance changes and any strategic business improvement changes add further organisation stress.
~ Sponsorship: For change to be a sustainable success, the Sponsor has three critical tasks. Firstly, ‘Say’- communicating the business case for the change to all affected stakeholders. Secondly, ‘Support’ – the Sponsor starts to actively and overtly support the change by providing resources. Finally, ‘Sustain’ – here the Sponsor will reinforce the change. This task is critical for the organisation to deliver value and achieve the strategic goals.
Enhance previous change success: Our survey provided positive data in the following elements and these could be further built upon to further enhance future change:
~ Change Involvement: This element scored the highest in our survey, as people indicated they were given the opportunity to be involved or to provide input "prior" to the last change in their organisation.
~ Future Change Success: Our survey data indicated that the majority of people were positive about change. Employees indicated they understood the key principles of change management and that future change implementation in their organisation would be a success.
Peter F Gallagher is a Change Management Global Thought Leader, Expert, International Speaker, Author and Leadership Alignment Coach.
Ranked #1 Change Management Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (May 2020) by Thinkers360.
Business Book Ranking: Change Management Pocket Guide - Leadership of Change® Volume 2, ranked within the top 50 Business and Technology Books (Jan 2020) from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders.