Sustainable organisational change often requires a philosophical leap, a change of attitude and behaviour. It also requires a lot of hard work, and the traditional rigour of project and programme management techniques.
It never ceases to surprise people the sheer amount of work that takes place in an organisational change programme. Even in a modestly sized business, the amount of activity required to maintain engagement, control and forward momentum can be quite overwhelming for the uninitiated. To further complicate matters, this activity often has to take place in an environment of turbulence or perhaps even secrecy, dependent on the nature of the change.
Never lose sight of the fact that organisational change is a project or programme like most others. If you apply the rigour of traditional project and programme management techniques you will increase your chances of maintaining engagement, momentum and ultimately success.
10 tips for managing organisational change
1. Adopt and adapt a methodology for project management that suits you.
There are lots of standard models and methods, none of which are likely to suit you ‘out of the box’. They will however provide a useful template to build an approach that suits you.
2. Define the roles of those involved.
A project involves a discrete team and does not necessarily have to respect the current job titles of those involved. Take time to define the roles you need within the project and who is going to fulfil each one.
3. Wear multiple hats.
Defining roles becomes quite scary as it often makes the project feel large and unwieldy. Don’t forget that people can wear multiple hats in a project context. In fact there are very few roles that can’t be combined.
4. Respect reporting lines.
Your methodology should define reporting lines – respect them! Nothing is guaranteed to collapse a project structure more quickly than people missing steps in reporting.
5. Define success early and revisit often.
Don’t be afraid to change the parameters that will determine whether your organisational change project is a success. The world changes, so can your goals.
6. Create a baseline and track progress.
People often forget what yesterday looked like. Make a baseline, track against it, and report often
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
You can’t communicate too much during organisational change, and you can’t work too hard to ensure clarity. To use an old adage, “tell em, what you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, then tell ’em what you told ’em”.
8. If it feels too complicated, make it simpler (part 1).
Organisational change can be a complex beast. Respect the complexity and manage it as multiple projects.
9. If it feels too complicated, make it simpler (part 2).
Don’t feel obliged to track EVERY detail. Manage only what needs to be managed.
10. Celebrate success.
Never let an organisational change project fizzle out. Always declare an end, celebrate the efforts of those involved and recognise what you’ve achieved.