Metrics, Measurements, and Sustainability: A Guide to Measuring Change Success

Posted by Paula Alsher on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 @ 02:48 PM

Your organization probably has very specific metrics and measurement tools surrounding project management. Measuring if your project is on time, on budget, and technically sound is pretty straight forward. But how do you measure change management success? One thing we can tell you for sure…it is much more important to measure business results than how well change management worked on a project. Measuring Change Success

In every change, people need to do something differently. Until you get to sustained behavior change you will not get the full financial or other benefits the change is intended to achieve. This is such an important concept, we’ll say it another way…no behavior change, no implementation. It’s that simple!


5 Metrics to Measure Project Results

There are 5 metrics that must be met on every project to deem it “successful,” which should be stated in business terms such as system optimization, ROI, or benefits or value realization:

  1. It’s delivered on time
  2. It’s delivered on budget
  3. The technical objectives are achieved
  4. The business objectives are achieved
  5. AND it meets the human objectives that have been established for the change

The human objectives of an implementation are what people will be doing differently in the future state as a result of the change. For most organizations, there is far greater emphasis on the achievement of an initiative’s business and technical objectives compared to the achievement of the human objectives. But the fact is, all 5 measures are critical to Return on Investment, value realization, or whatever term your organization uses.

Unfortunately, organizations often make the mistake of measuring success at project “go live”. The technology works, the new processes are introduced, and the new job requirements are announced. “We’ve launched, so we’re done.”

This is what Don Harrison, developer of the AIM Change Management Methodology, calls successful installation. We find most organizations are very good at installing all kinds of changes. But when you measure success at the point of installation, it’s just change at the surface level. You are not getting sustained behavior change and therefore, true Return on Investment.


Getting to sustained behavior change is no easy task. Don Harrison tells participants in our change management certification programs that Implementation is a ferociously resource-consuming activity. Once the strategy is designed you have only consumed 15% of the resources needed for project implementation! You can assume that you still have 85% of the resource expenditure ahead.

Since no organization allocates sufficient resources for its full change portfolio, Next Generation Change Agents need to be laser focused on the activities that will make the most impact on the bottom line, using a structured, repeatable change management process like AIM. AIM’s 10 core principles guide a Change Agent on what to do to implement at speed.

Here are 4 principles from the AIM Methodology that ensure your initiative gets to sustained behavior change:

  1. Define the Change in Terms of Human Behavior. The starting point for every business initiative needs to be a clear definition of the human objectives for the change. These are the "behaviors you seek to see.” If you aren't defining these behaviors up front, you can't determine if the solution is adopted at the end!
  2. Sustained, Active Sponsorship Needs to be Secured. The fastest way to ensure a successful implementation is by having Sponsors demonstrate 3 behaviors with their direct reports; they must Express, Model and Reinforce their private and public commitment to the change consistently, all the way through implementation.
  3. Change the Reinforcements. A strategy is needed to motive impacted individuals to leave the present state rather than stay where things are. The “gravitational pull” of the status quo is enormous. Managers must apply positive rewards for performing the new behaviors, and negative consequences for staying in the present state.
  4. Don’t Let Resistance Win Out. Resistance to change is natural and inevitable. You can't ignore it, or it will go underground and really slow you down. Instead, you need to find its sources, and apply tactics to manage it. Unfortunately, in many organizations past failed implementations have taught an important lesson, which is what we call the “kidney stone theory of change”—if we resist long enough, this too shall pass!

Implementation success is ultimately measured by business results. Leaders who are content with getting to go live or “installation” often gain a false sense of satisfaction that organizational objectives and financial return have been achieved. But while getting to successful installation is certainly a "must do," projects won't achieve the financial benefits that were used to justify the investment in the business case until sustained behavior change and implementation are accomplished. That’s the true measure of change management success.

Free eBook:  Mini Guide to Installation vs Implementation

Topics: Installation vs. Implementation, Value Realization/ROI