Organisational Change ManagementWhy, What, How?Almost all people are nervous about change. Many will resist it - consciously orsubconsciously. Sometimes those fears are well founded - the change really will have anegative impact for them. In many cases, however, the target population for the changewill come to realise that the change was for the better.The pace of change is ever increasing - particularly with the advent of the Internet and therapid deployment of new technologies, new ways of doing business and new ways ofconducting ones life. Organisational Change Management seeks to understand thesentiments of the target population and work with them to promote efficient delivery ofthe change and enthusiastic support for its results.There are two related aspects of organisational change that are often confused. InOrganisational Change Management we are concerned with winning the hearts and mindsof the participants and the target population to bring about changed behaviour andculture. The key skills required are founded in business psychology and require "people"people.
Contrast this to Organisational Design where the roles, skills, job descriptions and structure of the workforce may be re- designed. Typically that is a more analytical and directive activity, suited to tough-skinned HR professionals. It is not a topic for the ePMbook.Organisational Design may be a specific objective of the project, for example where thereis to be a reduction in the workforce, or it may just be a consequence of the changedbusiness processes and technology.Organisational Change Management issues are often under-estimated or ignored entirely.In fact, people issues collectively account for the majority of project failures. What Caused The Project To Fail? This survey looked at disastrous projects. One of the questions asked for the prime cause of the failure. Although the result did not spell out "people" as the cause, it is interesting to note that many of the causes were to do with the behaviour and skills of the participants. Arguably allbut the "technical issues" were related to the capabilities, attitudes and behaviour ofpeople. Why were the Benefits Not Delivered?
A different study examined whether package implementation projects benefits had been achieved. Where they had not been delivered, the question "why?" was asked. Top of the list was "organisational resistance to change".Again, several other causes were related to people, their skills and their behaviour. "Lackof business ownership" is a major responsibility of the Organisational ChangeManagement work. Such things as "unstable requirements", "not meeting expectations",and "poor project management" would also be partly due to behaviours and skills.Organisational Change Management is a vital aspect of almost any project. It should beseen as a discrete and specialised workstream. Why then, you might ask, do we discuss itas part of the Project Management work. Unfortunately, it is common to find that thehuman component of the project is not recognised as a separate element of the work. Theproject management team frequently have to do their best to ensure that a technologicalchange is successfully implanted into the business. In the worst-case scenario, the projectleadership do not see this as part of their responsibility either and blame theorganisations line management when their superb new technical solution is not fullysuccessful when put to use.Organisational Change Management at project start-upMany Organisational Change Management issues need to be clear at the start of theproject so that appropriate activities can be included in the plans, and so that appropriateroles and responsibilities can be established. Here are some of the key issues: Is there a compelling "Case for Change" that all participants will buy in to? Who are the owners and sponsors of this change? Will they actively promote the change and apply pressure as needed? What are the populations involved, eg the overall leadership of the organisation, project participants, sub-contractors, end-users, other departmental managers, other members of the workforce, suppliers, customers etc? For each population (or subset by role, function, etc) what will their attitude be? Will they resist the change? How can we encourage them to act in a way which will support the projects objectives?
What style of participation will work best? Should we involve a broad section of the target population or keep everything secret until the change is forced upon them? How can we communicate these messages to the target population?The Case for ChangeAs part of the project definition, there should be a compelling "Case for Change" whichcan convince all participants and, in due course, the target population. If everyone agreesthat the project has good and necessary objectives, they should be far more supportive ofthe changes.This is not the same as the projects main business benefit case. The business case islikely to be founded on business strategy and financial results - often not a compellingargument for the individuals in the workforce.In a "Case for Change", it should be clear that there are better ways of doing things -better for the organisation, better for the workforce, better for customers and (maybe)better for suppliers.SponsorshipThe Project Sponsor is usually the person who saw a need for change and had theauthority to make something happen. There may be several sponsors who collectivelyhave this role.The precise ownership of the project is more a matter for the Project Definition work.What counts from an Organisational Change Management perspective is not the actualownership and rationale for the project so much as the perceived sponsorship andpurpose. For example, the project might exist because the Finance Director wants to cutcosts, but it could be a better message that the Chief Executive wants to build a slickorganisation that can beat the competition.The original Project Sponsor will often have the power and status to create and deliverthe project and may be able to deliver the change messages to the areas of theorganisation directly involved. In many cases, however, the change is broader than theimmediate influence of the Project Sponsor. Other supporting sponsors may be requiredto promote the project in other areas of the organisation.Make a Sponsorship Map - initially to show who is involved and what support they areoffering. Use this to identify who else needs to participate and what they need to do.In major change programmes many parts of the organisation will be involved, forexample:
the line business unit that houses the changed process, other departments involved in the process chain, senior management and general management of the organisation who will be critical judges of this initiatives success, the IT department who build and operate the technology, the finance department where the financial implications will be seen, customer-facing staff who will reflect the changes when dealing with the clients. Stop / Start Animation A significant project will require a cascade of sponsorship, such that all affected parts of the organisation hear strong support from their leadership. If the message is delivered from the top and reinforced by the immediate management, staff are far more likely to believe in the case for change and to act in support of the changes. For critical business change programmes the message should come from the very top. Get the Project Sponsor to engage the ChiefExecutive as the prime source of sponsorship messages. (You may find yourself writingthe words for the Project Sponsor to give to the Chief Executive - but the key thing is thatit is then seen as the Chief Executives personal message.)Not everyone listens attentively to their Chief Executive, so it is important that thesemessages are cascaded down to all parts of the organisation, with local managementechoing and supporting the party line. Case Study A large, multi-divisional professional services firm was changing its timesheet system - affecting every member of the organisation. They recognised the need for acceptance and compliance from everyone so they built an all-encompassing sponsorship cascade. When the team was finalised it was apparent that the sponsorship team was considerably larger than the project team building the new system.Resistance to change
By definition, people are affected by change. A few will comfortably accommodate anydegree of change, but most people have a change journey to undertake.Part of the art of Organisational Change Management is to: understand what journey you want which populations to take (it may not be the same for everyone), assess what their attitude is likely to be, and use that knowledge to guide them in the right direction.Many people will hide their negative feelings. It is not wise to be openly critical of yourbosses and their new ideas. Some people will not even be aware of their own resistancewhich, nevertheless, affects their behaviour sub-consciously. Understanding theirposition requires more than listening to what they say. Organisational ChangeManagement specialists use an array of diagnostic tools to uncover the truecharacteristics and attitudes of the target populations.The most common response to impending change is a negative response where, initiallyat least, the target population sees the change as a bad or threatening thing. Psychologistshave researched these "bad news" responses and found that there is a common emotionalresponse. This chart shows how the individuals oscillate between inactivity and highemotion. Assuming the final outcome can represent a good thing from their perspective,the goal is to leave them in favour of the change and highly motivated to make it work. The "Bad News" Curve Here are some thoughts that might be expressed by someone passing through the "bad news" curve: Oh no! It cant be true! You cannot be serious!!! Can we sort this out some other way? Thats it - after 20 years of service they want me to... Am I going to be part of this? Yes, I can live with this - its not bad really.The "Good News" Curve
A different emotional curve may occur where individuals are initially in favour of the change. In the "good news" curve, the risk is that they will be disappointed by the reality of the change or the effort it will take to achieve it. In these cases, you should recognisethe likelihood of disappointment during the change process. Be ready to lift them out ofthe trough in time to benefit from their enthusiasm.Resistance to change is normal. The Project Manager should expect to encounter it anddeal with it. The worst time to encounter resistance is during the cutover to the newsolution. Transition is usually a busy, critical, high-risk period when the last thing youneed is a lack of co-operation from the target population.Try to surface issues and resistance earlier in the project so that there is time to get thetarget population engaged before any damage is caused. Some Organisational ChangeManagement experts suggest that you should deliberately upset the target populationearly in the project so that you can guide them through the emotional curve and changetheir attitude. That may be taking the principle too far - but, if there is going to beresistance, try to deal with it early.Using the right change styleThe design of the projects approach should take into account the optimum style ofaddressing organisational change issues. In general, the target population will be moresupportive of the changes if they have been part of the change process. The cynical viewis that you should make them feel part of the process even if you prefer to ignore whatthey have to say. In fact, their active participation is likely to add to the quality of thesolution - it should be taken seriously. Conversely, if they feel their views were soughtthen ignored they are likely to become more resistant.Working with a broad selection of the target population adds time and cost to the project.The degree to which you involve them will depend on the magnitude of the change. A
straightforward non-controversial change may require no previous contact. If, forexample, you are simply introducing a new set of expense codes you can publish themessage "with effect from 1st April, new codes must be used as per the attached book".Conversely, if you are making huge changes to the job and lifestyle of the targetpopulation you will need to work with them to gain their co-operation, for example, ifyou wish them to re-locate voluntarily and re-train for substantially altered jobs.Here are some change styles that may be appropriate: Collaborative - The target population are engaged in the change process, typically through cascading workshops or meetings. They will be kept up to date on the issues. Their views will be actively sought and acted upon. Feedback will demonstrate how their input has been acted upon. Consultative - The target population is informed about the changes and their views are sought. Directive - The workforce is informed about the changes and why those changes are important. Coercive - The workforce is told that they must obey the new instructions. Case Study A computer hardware and services supplier needed to restructure the workforce to achieve dramatic cost savings. They decided upon a fully collaborative approach where all employees were invited to a series of workshops to examine the case for change, analyse the problems and define solutions. By the end of the process, not only were the employees fully backing
the restructuring, but individuals were even recognising that they themselves would be redundant and volunteering to leave. Case Study An Organisational Change Management expert was addressing an audience at a conference. After some time, a senior member of the armed forces was feeling highly frustrated. He stood up and asked for an explanation. "I dont see the point of all this", he said. "I give an order and my people carry it out." Who was right? Why should the workforce not just do as they are told?CommunicationOne of the main tools for promoting change is communication. Early in the project aninitial approach to communication will be formulated. It has two main purposes: to convey important information that the audience needs to know, and to promote organisational change.Messages supporting the projects change objectives should be carefully constructed. Thebest media should be identified to convey the right messages to the right people at theright time. During the project, these messages and methods will be refined based uponachievements, feedback and the changing circumstances of the project.Organisational Change Management at phase startFor each phase the change management plan will be prepared in detail. Input andfeedback from previous phases will inevitably lead to modifications to the overallapproach.Update the Sponsorship Map to show who is involved at this stage and what is requiredof them. As part of the launch activities for the new phase, sponsors should be informed,briefed and reanimated. Their continuing support should be ensured.
Often a new phase means new team members and new participants from the business.Make sure there is a good process to capture their support and enthusiasm.Organisational Change Management during the projectOrganisational Change Management techniques fall into two main types: input - analysing the problem, and output - inducing organisational change.It may also be appropriate to couple these organisational issues and needs with themainstream design work of the project, so that certain issues could be solved by the waythe solution is designed. It may be easier to make the solution fit the people rather thanthe people fit the solution.The input activities are essentially forms of fact-finding and analysis. OrganisationalChange Management experts have many specialised tools to: identify a population, assess that populations capabilities, attitude, behaviour, culture, define the change goals, and determine what is required to bring about that change.In the absence of an expert you would fall back on basic fact finding and analysis,coupled with common sense and experience.Output activities tend to be various forms of communication, for example: communicating messages coaching setting up sponsorship cascades collaborative workshops.Although the change management analysis, design and planning may be specialist tasks,much of the change output can be applied by other project team members. All teammembers will have opportunities to spread the right message. In many cases, the waythey approach a given activity might have a significant affect on the target population -increasing or decreasing resistance.Non-specialist team members should be given the basic skills and understanding topromote organisational change. They should also be guided by the specialists (if any) andby the projects change management approach and planning.
Case Study A Project Management expert was hired to coach the IT project managers of telecommunications service provider. In a "collaborative" style, he led a conversation about the relationship with the business, trying to draw out a consensus that the business and its end users were essential players in building a successful IT solution. But the project managers were unanimous. One summed it up - "what we need is a big brick wall to keep the users away from us". That is a problem with a collaborative approach - what do you do when the population turns in the wrong direction?Organisational Change Management at phase endThe end of a phase is always a good time to review progress. Many organisational changeactivities are imprecise in their effect. It can be hard to measure whether the targetpopulation has now become sufficiently supportive for the project to succeed.Take a fresh look at the organisational issues: did we really understand the barriers? how effective were the actions taken? what more do we need to achieve?The conclusions will be fed into the planning for the next phase of work.Organisational Change Management at project endThe test of change management is whether the new business solution can be launchedsuccessfully in as efficient and pain-free a manner as possible. The lead up to thetransition is often the most intense period. In many cases it is the first time the affectedpopulations really become aware of the changes (although, as you saw above, it is notwise to tackle change issues late in the project). Now they are confronted with changedjobs, new procedures, new skill requirements, training courses, and maybe even physicalre-location.
In some projects not all the current workforce will be required for the new solution.Dealing with the painful process of redundancy is normally left to the HR and linemanagement functions. There are, however, two big issues for the Project Manager: The redundant staff will be required to operate the current systems and processes until the new solution is ready - and maybe for some period of parallel running. Since it is a legal or contractual requirement in most countries to announce potential redundancies well in advance and to give individuals notice before their departure date, the question is how to ensure they give good service and do no damage to the organisation or the new systems. There may also be implications for the survivors - those people who you are relying upon to deliver the new solution. They may be affected by the bad news concerning their colleagues. They may even go through a period of uncertainty when they do not know whether or not they themselves will be retained. What needs to be done to maintain their support and enthusiasm? Bear in mind that the same issues could confront project team members as well as the target population.By this stage in a major change, there needs to be a substantial support mechanism for thetarget population. As the key messages are communicated, the project team needs to beready to help and prepared for the inevitable issues. By this time, the sponsorship cascadeshould be complete and solid - often extending down to local champions carefully placedin the users teams. Support mechanisms will ease the users troubles, for example withappropriate training at the right time, desk-side coaching, good help desk / call centresupport.Organisational Change Management should not stop with the end of the project. Duringthe Benefit Realisation stage of the lifecycle, continuing emphasis will be needed toencourage the community to adapt to the new ways of working and get the most from thechange.