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There is no doubt about it…change is hard. But, when you start talking about enterprise-wide, transformational change, things become geometrically more complex. Moving to Shared Services or implementing Agile or introducing a new patient care model may make perfect, strategic sense for your organization. But these types of transformational changes are not only time consuming; they’re also incredibly challenging.
Transformational change is defined as 2nd order, frame-breaking change that completely alters your current operating structure. These changes will have massive change to processes, people, and typically technology. Once you take these leaps, you can’t change your mind and go back to the old ways. And transformation can’t be done incrementally.
How to Cross the Abyss of Transformational Change
So, what does it take to succeed at transformational change? One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned after more than 35 years of Change Management Consulting experience is not to waste your time and scarce resources on the things that will not transform your organization. Instead, take the time to ensure you meet the following four fundamental requirements of a successful transformation.
- Understand the Difference between Installation vs. Implementation
To increase the likelihood of success, organizations must adopt an “implementation mindset,” meaning the following 5 metrics must be used to define success:
- On Time
- On Budget
- All Technical Objectives Met
- All Business Objectives Met
- All Human Objectives Met
Unless you have achieved all 5 metrics to spec, your transformation will not get to full value realization, and that is the difference between installation and implementation. For example, it would be easy to consider a transformational change successful when the systems are up and running, the new processes are communicated, and the restructuring has taken place. But, these accomplishments are reflections of an initiative that has been successfully installed, which is important, but not enough!
To get to implementation and full benefit realization, you need to make sure sustained behavior change has occurred. No behavior change, no implementation. It’s a simple, but profound statement about the critical nature of the human side of business projects.
- Create a Clear, Compelling Definition of the Change
In order to properly define the change, you need to identify the behavior gap between the current state and the future state. In other words, what are people doing now and how should they behave after the change? In order to do so, there are four questions that need to be asked:
- What is changing?
- Why are you changing?
- What are the consequences for not changing?
- How will success be measured?
These questions must be translated into the Frame of Reference for every work group impacted by the change. This means that the Definition of the Change (what we call the Business Case for Action) is a living, breathing document that is used, modified, and updated throughout the project life cycle.
- Put Radically Different Reinforcements in Place
Reinforcement drives behavior change. Every time you see a pattern of behavior replicated over-and-over, there either is or was a reward for that behavior. Reinforcement is not just your performance appraisal process or pay and compensation. Leaders reinforce all day long, every day. You can’t continue to reinforce the same old values and behaviors in your organization and expect to get change, let alone transformation. During a transformational change, if you’re applying the same reinforcements as in the past, you will just get more of the “same.”
- Generate a Cascade of Committed Sponsors
The fastest way to transform is by having leaders change the way in which they lead the organization, most importantly with their own direct reports. Sponsorship is the demonstrated Expressed, Modeled, and Reinforced commitment of all the leaders who have direct reports that are impacted in some way by the change. This is the start of the cascade of Sponsorship we talk so much about. This cascade of behavioral commitment is the single most important factor in the speed and success of your transformational change project.
In order to get to full adoption and sustained transformational change at speed, you’ll need a disciplined, rigorous approach to managing the human side of the initiative. The AIM Change Management Methodology helps you minimize business disruption while increasing the speed of implementation. AIM provides the structure needed to replicate the human change process across functions, geographies, power structures, and cultures. It is a complete system for implementing change projects. Are you ready to power your transformational change with AIM?