I think we can probably all agree the rate of change has increased exponentially over the past few years. Every organization I know (whether it be in business or in healthcare) is working at the speed of light striving to get a competitive advantage, improve their market share, make their operations efficient all while increasing their shareholders’ returns. In order to make all these things happen simultaneously, Senior leaders are attempting multiple complex, large-scale changes at a somewhat alarming rate. No wonder the level of stress across organizations is so high!
Whether it is digital transformation, continuous improvement initiatives such as Lean Six Sigma, culture change or a shared services implementation, the success of any change project depends on the demonstrated Expressed, Modeled and Reinforced commitment of all the managers and leaders who have direct reports that are impacted in some way by the change. This cascade of behavioral Sponsor commitment is the single most important factor in a fast and successful implementation.
There is an ongoing debate in the world of Change Management on the merits of being “certified.” Some will argue there is no certification in the world that can adequately prepare you for the daily ins and outs of the job. The other side of the argument will point out you cannot possibly understand change management without a foundation in its principles.
Like so many of you who read our blog on a weekly basis, IMA is facing a major change. As you may already know our Vice President of Client Solutions, Paula Alsher, retired at the end of 2018. A bittersweet time for us as we are thrilled to hear Paula is already enjoying a peaceful and relaxing retirement, but a challenging transition for our small company as she did so much for us on a day-to-day basis.
With strategic plans in place for 2019, the focus turns to implementation. For many, transformational change will be high on the list. As you look to evaluate resources, you may find yourself needing additional bandwidth. So, you turn to external consultants—whether these are large consultancies or individual practitioners.
“Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” While the well-known song lyric is about teaching a group of children to sing, the sage advice also applies to implementing strategic business or clinical initiatives.
One of the biggest frustrations Change Agents and Project Teams confront is lack of adoption of the change by the Targets. There is no doubt that the “status quo” is a powerful force, even when a change is positive or entirely rational. Very often, the reason why the change isn’t embraced is because the appropriate reinforcements are not in place. For some reason, we expect people to behave differently, but we reinforce them for staying the same!
Leaders often recognize the need for culture change. They acknowledge it is fundamental to successful transformation, including in planned Mergers & Acquisitions. But while the need for culture change is known, getting it implemented successfully is another story. As the authors of the January-February 2018 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article“The Culture Factor” note, “ In our experience, it is far more common for leaders…to either let it go unmanaged or relegate it to the HR function, where it becomes a secondary concern for the business. They may lay out detailed, thoughtful plans for strategy and execution, but because they don’t understand culture’s power and dynamics, their plans go off the rails.”
Hint: it may not be when you think!
What is the end goal for your strategic initiatives? While it may seem like an obvious question, you’d be surprised at the number of organizations that get it wrong. Whether it is new technology, Agile, continuous improvement such as Lean/Six Sigma, restructuring or a business/clinical transformation, most organizations focus on getting to go-live. Shortly after that date, the project team is dismantled, and the initiative is checked off as complete and probably “successful.”
On a recent new technology implementation for a major, global corporation our consultants quickly realized the new system was actually one of 60 initiatives that were being launched over an 18-month period. Each individual project had its own project team and although there were interdependencies between the initiatives, the project teams were completely unaware of what the others were doing.