So, you’re now on the hook for change. It’s your job to make sure your organisation’s change function is fit for purpose.
You get it. But you also know the current change capability doesn’t feel right:
Yes. You get it alright. But what should you do? Where should you start?
Clarify the problem
As with any transformation exercise, you need to start by clarifying the problem to be solved and the work required to address the defined challenges.
Start by setting out:
Do I need all this?
You may be wondering: “why do I need to do all that?”, or, “won’t this review just tell me what I already know?”
Well, there are lots of good reasons for adding a bit of formality up front:
Setting a realistic vision
Working out the future vision for change is the most challenging aspect of such a review. It’s easy to simply state that “everything needs to be fabulous!”, but the right answer for the business is more subtle.
Here are a few key questions to consider:
The answers to these questions can be usefully summarised in a short “vision” document that sets out (in your words) “why we need to change change” and provides key inputs to the essential communications required as you proceed through transformation.
Planning the change journey
When completing these initial reviews, a common challenge comes when phasing the required transformation work.
Too often, the required work is carved into a number of concurrent streams of activity that all kick off at the same time.
Such “donkey derby” transformation programmes never really work. They ignore inevitable dependencies and the change team’s ability to absorb new ways of working.
Again, a more thoughtful approach is required. Any capability improvement exercise will progress through a series transformation ‘waves’, each building operational maturity over time.
Setting out a view of these waves up-front can help to schedule out the required work. An example set of waves might look something like this:
The critical path of the journey is nearly always defined by the change team’s ability to adopt new ways of working. Inevitably this can take time, so executive expectations have to be set accordingly!
The operating model – what’s needed?
A common concern in all of this is the amount of effort required to define a new operating model for change. What really needs to be documented and captured for posterity?
A lot of consultancies peddle mighty tomes of ‘template’ operating models running to hundreds of pages. Even these often cover only a subset of change capability (e.g. IT) rather than looking at change end-to-end.
Do you need all that? Really? Well, the chances are that you won’t.
However, if you work on the principle that it’s worth documenting anything that will be actively reused or referenced (say for role definitions) then you will have to write some things down.
An operating model design is most commonly required in situations where control needs to be established or maintained (e.g. addressing change performance issues, merging changing functions) and typically includes the following elements:
Programme – or side-of-the-desk?
Finally, some thought needs to be given as to whether a formal transformation programme needs to be established, or not. This depends on the nature of the improvements required:
More often than not, some form of programme team is required – usually a combination of external resources working with the accountable BAU owner of the change operating model itself.
As with many things in life, time spent up-front reaps dividends further down the line. It’s amazing how often change functions forget their own advice when transforming themselves.
Avoid this by reflecting on the real nature of problems and on designing and planning the right solutions before diving into implementation.
We’re seeing a lot of organisations investing in improving their change capability right now.
This is driven by the need to ready themselves for a future change portfolio defined by a greater volume of demand and more complex change programmes.
They are also investing to drive business differentiation through improving the way they do change. Don’t get left behind.
To discuss further, please contact Nick Houlton
Mobile: 07716 075616 | email: [email protected]
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