Defining the Change: Step One of a Change Management Methodology
Earlier this month IMA President Don Harrison led a webinar on Starting Transformational Change Right. The focus of our discussion was on the important first step of a sound change management methodology: providing structure for defining the change.
While many organizations do a pretty good job of defining the technical objectives for the change, and even sometimes the business objectives, most fail to fully define the human objectives. If you don't define the human objectives, what we call the "behaviors you seek to see" as the first step of your change management methodology, then how can you ask managers to reinforce those behaviors, and how do you measure adoption of the behaviors at the back end?
As one of the participants on the call noted, there is a lot of pressure in organizations to just jump in and get started rather than doing the unglamorous hard work up-front for defining the change. One of the benefits of a structured change management methodology is that it lays out the steps and provides the tools and templates needed to make this process easier.
As a best practice, project teams should not move forward on a project without developing a Business Case for Action as the first deliverable. This is a simple, compelling statement of what is changing, the reasons for the change, and what are the consequences if the change doesn't succeed. This Business Case for Action is then translated for each Target group so that managers can clearly and simply answer the two questions every person has about a change:
In our work with clients where we apply the AIM change management methodology to all types of complex changes, we also identify types and levels of impacts (From...To) as part of defining the change. This gives us insight into areas of potential risk.
If you aren't fully defining the change as part of your change management methodology, you're not starting your change right.