The Change Management discipline is still evolving and the opportunities to apply our skills will only increase with the accelerating pace of change. While some change colleagues groan about being misused or underutilized in their initiatives, I also hear from others that they have been brought in too early and have “nothing to do”. This speaks to the need to educate ourselves as well as our clients on how to add value at every stage we are brought into the initiative.
Granted, not every program requires the full scope of activities, nor does every project require “a senior change manager”. In fact, and this may be sacrilege to some consultants, many simple transition efforts don’t even need a change manager. At the same time, there are other efforts where change managers should be involved sooner and stay in place longer to increase the chances of change success. Since it isn’t practical to bring in a team of change managers when an idea is merely a glint in someone’s eye, how do we address this need?
Here is my recommendation: have a change expert involved in the stages before Project Planning, when ideas are being assessed and projects are initiated. A team isn’t required as multiple projects can be evaluated at the same time during these early stages.
- Before Project Initiation: A high-level change assessment should be conducted (such as the type of change, extent, timing, and criticality) to understand the potential impact and to incorporate (and mitigate) change considerations in business planning roadmaps.
- During Project Initiation: An environmental assessment (culture, structure, leadership style, etc.) of the organization receiving the change should be done to help identify a suitable change strategy. This should be input into how the project is set up and how many change resources (and what skills) are required.
The intent is for the projects that are kicked off to be aligned with a viable change approach. Also, since the strategy provides the framework for the change activities, it will facilitate the development of a more focused change plan. All of this should help achieve what everybody wants: an increased level of change success.