One of the major impediments to transformational change, Return on Investment, is the false notion that getting a project installed, meaning getting to the point of go live, is the same as getting implementation. In fact, installation and implementation are not at all the same.
In our change management consulting work we find that organizations can be very good at installing all kinds of changes, but fall short of achieving implementation and Return on Investment. Leaders who are content with installation may gain a false sense of satisfaction that organizational objectives and financial return have been achieved.
Installation is Important
It’s easy to understand why getting to installation promotes a sense of accomplishment. The lights go on. The system is up and running. The organization chart shows new names in new positions. The new process has been communicated. These are all reflections of initiatives that have been successfully installed.
Installation is very important. It’s just not enough.
Installation is seductive, because there is a lot of activity, and some results have been accomplished, but if you measure transformational change success by installation you are not getting to behavior change and Return on Investment. Instead, project success should be measured in 5 ways:
- On time
- On budget
- All technical objectives met
- All business objectives met
- All human objectives met
Depending on your organization’s culture, any combination of these measures may be seen as success. In our change management consulting we see organizations that may be satisfied if a project is on budget and technical objectives are met. In this organization’s case, it is okay for the timeline to slip. In another organization, projects must come in on time and on budget, but the business and technical objectives can be modified—in other words, project scope is reduced so that success can be claimed.
The fact is that all five measures must be achieved for a transformational change project to be successfully implemented. Otherwise, you are falling short, and you will not be achieving implementation.
The Role of Leaders
Leadership should not be satisfied with anything less than full implementation, but that requires some changes on their part as well. Leaders must budget for implementation, not just installation. This includes both timelines and resources.
Transformational change project teams should not be dismantled and resources moved to new initiatives prematurely. The organizational frame of reference for success should be based on metrics that include all five measures. We tell organizations in our change management consulting that they must adopt an implementation mindset where there is investment, business-discipline and rigor on the human-side of business changes.
Perhaps most importantly, leaders must provide reinforcements that encourage implementation rather than just installation. Like any behavior change, the commitment by leaders to the new definition of success must be expressed, modeled, and reinforced.
Four Strategies for Overcoming an Installation Mentality
There are four basic actions organizations can take to change the strategic goal from installation to implementation on transformational changes:
- Adjust the definition of project success
- Avoid dismantling the project and program infrastructure at the point of go live and budget for implementation
- Clearly define the human objectives of projects early in the project lifecycle
- Provide formal and informal reinforcements for true implementation