The new tomorrow of change management

Change management is like world-class sports. Without a competent coach who knows how to steer the team to victory, the game is lost before it has even begun. Sometimes, it feels like we are taking on projects in the spirit of Marvin the Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: why bother, it won’t work anyway, and it doesn’t make any difference.

Yes, I may have exaggerated a little. But without change management, projects, too, can fail even before they have started.

There are countless examples of failed projects. Reasons for failure are complex, but in many cases, the lack of proper change management stands out. One example of a failed project is the BBC’s 2013 digitalisation project where the aim was to improve the organisation’s operations and streamline its workflows. The project was only supposed to last for a few years, but it expanded into an over seven-year-long endeavour, exceeding the budget by nearly £100 million. The failure of the project was largely due to poor change management. The staff was not ready for the change, and communication strategies were weak. As a result, the staff lost confidence in the purpose of the project, which led to its eventual failure.

The impact of change on the organisation’s operations and staff is one of the main reasons why change management is so important. Without a proper change management strategy and approach, the project runs a high risk of failure. Studies have shown that about 70% of all projects fail, most often specifically due to poor change management. No matter how technical a system upgrade the project is, it is likely to involve people, processes, and changes to working methods. It is therefore important to ensure that the entire staff sees why the change is necessary and understands the impact it will have on their work. This, in turn, ​requires change management planning in order to develop effective communication strategies and training programmes that ensure that the staff is actually ready for the change.

In light of the above, it is important to consider the end users’ readiness for change. The implementation of the change depends on how much readiness for change is required from the end users and how it can be influenced. It is important to keep in mind that each member of the organisation will experience change differently, and the readiness for change can also vary depending on their personal situation. Some might be ready for change right away, while others may need more time to adapt. While an organisation’s executive team may have a clear idea of the change, end-user resistance could become a major obstacle on the way to success.

In light of the above, it important for the change management strategy to include measures to reduce resistance and facilitate end-user adaptation. Communication about the needs, goals, and impacts of change must be open and honest. Training and support are also important in order to allow members of the organisation to learn new skills and adapt to the new ways of working.

Prosci change management model

Sulava applies the Prosci change management models in its projects. Prosci provides a systematic and reproducible way to implement changes in organisations. The model is based on research involving data collected from thousands of organisations around the world for more than 20 years. The model consists of three main parts: the Prosci ADKAR change model, Prosci 3-Phase Process and the Prosci 5 roles. Some of the most important principles of the model are determining and communicating the need for change, assessing the impact of the change, creating a plan to implement the change and actually implementing the change.

The ADKAR change model is designed to provide understanding on the behaviour of individuals and their readiness for change. Its five phases enable the assessment of an individual’s capability and ability to change. The five phases are Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Reinforcement, and Ability. The ADKAR model can be used to assess the individuals’ readiness to change, but also to understand the implementation of change in the entire organisation.

Prosci 3-Phase Process provides a planning framework for implementing the change at the organisational level. The process has three phases: Prepare, Manage, and Reinforce. In the preparation phase, the focus is on preparing the organisation for change, communicating the change to the staff and involving the staff in the change. In the management phase, the focus is on actively managing the change and openly communicating its progress. During the reinforcement phase, the focus is on ensuring that the change has been incorporated into the everyday operations of the organisation with permanent effect.

The Prosci 5 provides a framework for understanding who is responsible for implementing the change in the organisation. Change Sponsor, Change Agent, Change Manager, Change Recipient, and Change Support are important roles in effectively managing change within organisations.

Despite the countless blogs, books, and guidelines written on the topic of change management, it still feels like we repeatedly come across projects where change management has been compromised or ignored altogether. It’s like forgetting to put your socks on in the morning – we know we should do it, but sometimes we just forget about it. Maybe it’s because change management is often troublesome and requires a lot of time and effort. Sometimes it is easier to just start a project and hope for the best. But as we know, wishful thinking is not going to get you far: if we want to ensure the success of a project and minimise its risks, we must be ready to invest in change management. So let’s keep change management in mind – and put our socks on in the morning!