Organisations must become increasingly able to change quickly and easily.
The business must be flexible yet capable of implementing and sustaining organisational change.
Change has to be built into the way businesses work.
However, many organisations have problems with the way they tackle change. These problems are usually related to people, processes, systems, technology or structure.
Quite simply, change is complex. Change is wicked! And the pace and scale of change today can overwhelm many organisations.
Stick with me and I will explain what is needed.
Sustaining Organisational Change
Projects are key to creating beneficial change. Projects are the vehicles for managing and implementing organisational change.
Those organisations that recognise project management is a core capability — or competence — are more likely to find success sustaining organisational change.
Successful business change projects have the following vital characteristics …
1. Business-led Change
They employ a single project team.
That is, a team that is business-led. One that comprises of all the required resources from the business, human resources, information technology and so on.
Ideally, team members should be collocated and allocated to the project full-time because this encourages communication and helps to build strong relationships.
2. Benefits Realisation
Business change is about delivering benefits.
The project team is responsible for delivering clearly specified benefits to the business not for creating systems, structures nor introducing technologies.
There should be no other success criteria!
Business change projects should always be driven by benefits that support strategy.
3. A Sense of Urgency
Executive management describes the business need — why the business change project is necessary — from the outset. Their mandate will also specify the time-scale within which the project must deliver the benefits.
Organisational change should be delivered with urgency and in no more than nine months.
Detailed analysis has the effect of putting the brakes on change.
Therefore, the idea of time-boxing is used to push the project team to make decisions about what is really needed.
Successful businesses break tradition and create a sense of urgency when delivering change.
5. Quick Wins
Large scale organisational change needs momentum plus a sense of achievement and bags of optimism.
Time-boxing encourages quick wins, ensuring results are achieved quickly.
Instead of detailed analyses and the preparation of a hefty business case or full requirements specifications the project team is moved to change and learns what is really required through a series of iterations —breaking large scale change into smaller chunks and success stories.
Dolphins Not Whales
To conclude, large scale organisational change projects are broken down into a series of shorter steps or phases.
Each step will deliver benefits and move the organisation to sustaining change.
What’s more, it is urgency that sustains change and this is only possible when results are achieved rapidly.
Not only does this give recognition and encouragement to those working hard to accomplish change it also builds faith in the change effort.
David Feeny — a prominent British academic and authority on business transformation — first introduced the concept of dolphins not whales.
It effectively shows people how sustaining change should be implemented.
That is, creating a climate for change by increasing urgency and engaging and enabling the organisation through short-term wins.
Dolphins, not whales is a great way to grasp what is at the heart of change. When leading change use this to win hearts and minds.
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Creative Commons image courtesy NOAA’s National Ocean Service.