One of the most common questions we get about our AIM change management methodology (also known as the Accelerating Implementation Methodology) is both simple and complex. The question is, "What is the best way to get a change management methodology introduced into our organization?"
Frankly, too many organizations try to rely solely on training as the answer. But there is no training program that alone will get your organization the results you are looking for and that you need. That's because training can only address a skill or knowledge deficiency. You can't use training on a change management methodology as a "check the
box" activity. You can't train your way to a culture change! And the introduction of a change management methodology is indeed a cultural change.
It's a cultural change for these reasons:
1. You are introducing a new set of behaviors and values
2. You are asking people to adopt a new way of operating, including use of new processes and tools
So while training is an important and a critical component to building change capacity in your organization, training is not enough. In over twenty-five years of change management consulting and training around the world, we have found that it is not effective to use change management training as a "general cultural ethos" or to "sheep dip" large numbers of people into a change management methodology. It feels good but it doesn't get the job done. Like other changes, you run the risk of "installing" the change management methodology but you haven't "implemented" it.
Instead, it is much more effective to inculcate your change management methodology into the organization on a project by project basis. It is what we call "using AIM on AIM." This is because you need all the same elements for introducing a change management methodology that you need for any change:
- You must define the change and the new behaviors in the future state (what's changing, why, what does it mean for every "Target", and what's in it for every "Target"
- You must have Sponsorship in all the areas impacted by the change
- You must build Readiness for the change and have a resistance management plan
- You will need an effective communications plan
- You must apply a menu of Reinforcements that will drive the behavior change
If you are introducing the methodology following a project approach, you are able to apply these elements and build Change Agent capacity on something real. Then over time you can continue to inculcate the change management methodology on a project by project basis. Change management training is more meaningful because it is being introduced in the context of a real organizational change.
What type of project should you select? Here are the initial project guidelines we recommend to our clients in our change management consulting:
Your project should:
- Be 12-18 months in duration
- Be highly visible
- Be tangible (e.g. technology or business process redesign as opposed to cultural)
- Be already past Diagnosis and into the Design Phase (not remedial work or fixing past problems)
- Have direct return to the bottom line
- Have experienced/credible project team lead
- Have potential for strong Sponsorship (motivated Sponsors) at the Managing Director level or below
Strong Sponsorship is particularly important. Since Sponsorship is the single most important factor in implementation success, we always recommend that given the choice, select a project with strong Sponsorship and you are far more likely to be successful!
So the bottom line is that introducing a change management methodology is a strategic change that requires a complete implementation plan. Training is certainly going to be important, but if you are looking to change the way the organization approaches projects, recognize that you will need to use your change management methodology on the implementation of your change management methodology!