The Iterative and Incessant Journey Towards Change

In our previous Change Management Blog, Managing Change: How Can You Successfully Structure the Inevitable we discussed the importance of striking the right balance between driving change through planning, metrics and implementation and releasing change by enabling and coaching stakeholders.

How can leaders leverage driving and releasing activities to build commitment within their stakeholder groups? We recommend that a change program consist of four intertwined phases, each shaped and enabled by the activities and outcomes of the phase preceding it. Successful execution of each phase below will help drive desired behavioral change and long term commitment.

Making it Essential: Build urgency and stakeholder commitment

  • Driving Activities: Develop a compelling case for change that resonates with a diverse population of stakeholders and identify metrics by which to measure success. Identify clear program objectives and establish high-level program governance.
  • Releasing Activities: Engage leaders through working sessions and one-on-one interviews to build a sense of commitment and ownership. Use workshops and informal feedback mechanisms to assess stakeholder moods and evaluate the organization’s readiness or ability to transform.

Making it Ready: Design and specify the plan for the change initiative

  • Driving Activities: Communicate the case for change, using real life examples and war stories and leverage familiar metrics to prioritize benefits and quick wins. Develop a clear implementation strategy and risk assessment.
  • Releasing Activities: Define roles and responsibilities – Coach leaders to become change managers and identify change agents to help build buy in and collect informal feedback. Deliver consistent communication messaging to ensure that expectations are managed.

Making it Happen: Implement the change initiative

  • Driving Activities: Review and revise the case for change on an ongoing basis. Execute quick wins and communicate the quantitative and qualitative benefits. Begin to implement prioritized changes to systems, processes, structure, and people.
  • Release Activities: Provide relevant communication tools and support, enabling managers to drive implementation and stakeholder engagement. Plan training, town halls and other opportunities for two-way communication to increase stakeholder involvement, understanding and commitment.

Making it Stick: Communicate, measure and enable the change

  • Driving Activities: Test the relevancy of the case for change by collecting feedback and communicating benefits and lessons learned. Measure current and future success using pre-defined metrics and define further actions to drive change.
  • Release: Continue to coach and develop leaders. Identify mechanisms to recognize and reward new skills and behaviors among stakeholders. Implement formal and informal feedback mechanisms to ensure continuous improvement.

While the list of change activities within these four phases is comprehensive, it is by no means exhaustive. Leaders can undertake multiple approaches to manage change and enable business transformation. The most critical characteristic of any change program is consistent review and revision to ensure sustainability and adherence to changing stakeholder needs.

Do you have a specific approach to managing change in your organization?

How do you ensure that the desired change “sticks” and is sustained in the long term?

Throughout this blog we will highlight key insights and concepts associated with change management and discuss how change management can work for your organization.

Teneka Polite

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