When I discuss the blending of project management and change management during IMA’s AIM Change Management Training sessions, inevitably someone always asks, “but aren’t they the same thing?” While in a perfect world we would see project management and change management as one blended protocol, there are several fundamental differences between the two disciplines. Individually, each plays a critically important role in the success of a project, but when blended from the beginning, they will help to ensure ROI is achieved. A much more valuable metric in my (not so) humble opinion.
If you are currently working on a business change whether is it transformational in scope or a small procedural modification, chances are you are extremely focused on getting to the “go-live” date. Most likely, there are strategies in place and resources dedicated to ensuring the project is going to be on time, on budget and to scope. In other words, once the project is launched you can check the box that it is complete and move on to the next change, right? WRONG!
It’s easy to understand why so many organizations are turning to Agile. Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, innovation and continuous improvement is what keeps organizations one step ahead of their competition. But, “going Agile” isn’t as easy as it sounds. This change in mindset not only requires people to think in a whole new way, it requires the entire organization to do different things, in different ways.
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.
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.
Several years ago it was Quality Assurance. Then it was Lean Six Sigma. Now everyone wants to be Agile. The allure of these bright, shiny business protocols is understandable. They are solid programs that promise to improve operational efficiencies. And who doesn’t want to improve business results?
We’ve all heard the statistic 70% of all organizational change projects fail. This figure was first reported by Hammer and Champy in 1993 and, unfortunately, recent research confirms the staggering statistic hasn’t changed by much. The ugly truth of the matter is today’s organizations are still plagued by projects that are sub-optimized, if not facing outright failure. “Spotty” implementations are all too common with success in one area but not in all areas impacted by the change.
Operational Excellence programs like Lean Six Sigma have been around for many years and have proven themselves time and time again to be invaluable in identifying areas where business process improvement is necessary. Lean Six Sigma, in particular, focuses on improving performance by removing waste. The five steps in the Lean Six Sigma process are designed to optimize and stabilize business process and design and are abbreviated by the initials DMAIC: