How to Measure Transformational Change Success: What are Your Metrics?

Posted by Paula Alsher on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 @ 10:38 AM

It sounds so obvious when we say, “The end goal of every transformational change should be full benefit realization.”  Duh!  Of course.  But in our change management consulting work we see so many organizations who get to the “go-live” or the cut-over date of a project, declare it complete, and thus… successful. But the fact is that go live has nothing to do with getting to full implementation!  Your transformation is not “done.” How to Measure Change Success

We call this “pre-mature project completion.” It’s a step forward when you get to launch, you feel good, but you are missing something very important… Return on Investment!

The truth of the matter is that until you get to sustained behavioral change you will not get the financial and other benefits the change is intended to achieve. There is no change unless people change their behavior.  And that doesn’t happen at launch!  That is why we say, No behavior change, no implementation.”  It’s just that simple. {Tweet This}

The 5 Metrics of a Successful Implementation

In order to measure the success of a transformational change, you must first understand the difference between installation and implementation.  Installation of a change meets 3 measures:

  • It’s on time
  • It’s on budget
  • It meets the technical objectives 

We find most organizations are very good at installing all kinds of changes.  It’s easy to understand why getting to installation promotes a sense of accomplishment. There is a lot of activity and some results have been accomplished.  The lights are on, the new people are in their positions, and the new procedures are in place.  Some would say, “It runs. It hums. So it is done.”  

But if you measure transformational change success by installation, you are not yet getting to sustained behavior change and therefore, true Return on Investment. It’s change at the surface level.

In order to have a successful implementation there are two additional factors that must be met:


  • The business objectives
  • The human objectives


The human objectives of a transformation are what the Targets of the change will be doing differently as a result of the change in the future state.  For most organizations, there is far greater financial investment in the achievement of an initiative’s business and technical objectives compared to the investment in the human objectives.  But the fact is all five measures must be achieved in order to achieve Return on Investment and call a transformational change successful. 

Leadership should not be satisfied with anything less than full implementation, but that requires some changes on their part as well. Leaders must budget to get to implementation, not just installation. This includes adjusting timelines and understanding what is required from resources.

Four Strategies to Re-frame Your Definition of Success

While getting to successful installation of your transformation projects is certainly a "must-do," your projects won't achieve the financial benefits that were used to justify the investment in the business case until implementation is accomplished.  To increase the likelihood of implementation success, organizations must actually adopt an “implementation mindset,” meaning there is a common vocabulary and alignment on what is required for implementation success, and that is measured by program benefit realization.

Employing a sound change management methodology such as The Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) allows you to manage the human side of change practically, systematically, and with rigor and discipline.  Below are four strategies based on AIM principles that will help you to re-frame your measurement of transformational change success:   


  1. Adjust the definition of project success from installation to implementation
  2. Avoid dis-assembling the project and program infrastructure prematurely
  3. Clearly define the human objectives early in the project lifecycle
  4. Provide formal and informal reinforcements and for true implementation, and consequences for non-performance  

Don't be confused and let your organization's investment become a victim of the installation trap.  Instead, adopt an implementation mindset to ensure full benefit realization from every business transformation project.

Free eBook:  Mini Guide to Installation vs Implementation

Topics: Transformational Change, Installation vs. Implementation, Value Realization/ROI