“Priority is the function of context,” says Stephen Covey. So how do you position the value of change management in the right context so that it gets the priority it needs? Think about what you describe when you make the case for change management. How is change management viewed by your project leaders? Is it seen as an optional add-on rather than a vital contributor to the project’s success? Do you spend the conversation talking about change management activities, like communication and training, or do you focus on change management’s contribution to overall project results and outcomes?
The 5 Crucial Questions
If you’re going to value change management as a resource to keep your project moving forward, then you’ve got to ask the right questions.
These questions are:
What are the key performance indicators of success?
What are the expected outcomes of change?
What is the current level of organisational commitment to change management?
What are the expected social-cultural impediments to change?
How important is the effect of change on overall project, organisational, and personal results?
Some of these questions might appear self-explanatory, but that’s only because they are. There’s much more to a good change management program than a few well-honed facts and figures.
How is Change Management Viewed?
And here’s where change management and its importance to project success come into play. If project leaders see it as a potential project cost, they’re unlikely to elevate the importance of change management. Change management may be viewed as a prerequisite and an afterthought, something to be done later or sometime in the future, rather than something that should be a top priority from the get-go. Communication and training are also something to be considered later, too often left to the last minute, and therefore not part of the initial project requirements. And if project leaders view change management as an optional add-on, they may feel that they can’t afford to prioritize it.
Communicating the Value of Change Management
If you don’t define how change management will contribute to project success, then you will not make the value case to your project leaders. They will view it only as an opportunity for extra work and investment. They will view it as additional delays, another reason why your project is not proceeding as quickly as it could.
Training for a New Way of Working
Many business units are evolving their cultures to take on new ways of working in the service of a clear business strategy. Often their leaders are not willing or able to drive the cultural change required for successful change; sometimes it’s simply easier to assign the change management role to someone else. The very fact that the change management team is needed is evidence that the direction of change is well defined and the leaders are not willing to lead it themselves. Therefore, when it comes to the value of change management, and in particular training, don’t only consider the activities that are described in your business case and on your change management website. Think how you describe it and who gets the opportunity to take part.
Change management isn’t simple, and sometimes a seemingly simple solution doesn’t fit with your priorities. So the questions you ask about change management matter. Use your listening ears, think about context, and ask your questions. Do you want to make change management a big deal or a small detail? Your perspective will help you make the decision that’s best for you.