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Planning and Change Management

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Factors Common to Successful Change Management

Planning and Change Management

Planning Context

Critical to successful change is good planning. Successfully managing the complexity of change is virtually impossible without a robust plan that is supported by strong project management.

The formal procedure of applying a planning process in preparation for change helps organizations to:

Take stock of their current position.

Identify what is to be achieved, and what the future position following the change is expected to be.

Detail precisely the who, what, when, where, why and how of achieving and implementing the change objectives.

Assess the impact of the change on the organization and the people within it, as well as other stakeholders.

Ensure alignment with the organization’s business model/strategy.

Planning Context (Continued)

Planning ensures that organizations are aware of the implications of what they want to do, and are prepared for all reasonable eventualities.

It can also be the point at which an assessment is made about whether or not a proposed change should proceed.

A good change planning process involves:

Setting a clear vision for the change which is aligned with the organization’s vision.
Documenting the case for change.
Developing the change plan.

Clear Vision

The starting point and focus of successful change planning is having a clear vision about what the scope and impacts of the future changed state will be.

Stakeholders must be clear about their contribution to the desired improvement. If the change vision is not clear or shared, commitment is unlikely, and change efforts will be short-lived at best and will likely fizzle out.

Further, without a clear vision, change efforts can easily dissolve into a list of confusing tasks, directives and sometimes incompatible projects that can take the organization in the wrong direction or nowhere at all.

The vision should provide the direction, which ties everything together, showing where individual projects and initiatives fit into the big picture.

Clear Vision (Continued)

The change vision must also align with the organization’s and the government’s overall vision and mission, with the desired culture and values of the change reflecting the vision and mission statements.

Articulating a direction and desired behaviors/values sets up a sense of the ideal culture the organization is striving to achieve with the change.

Note

A vision that is misaligned will bring about early resistance and a lack of support for resources and for change.

Change management research indicates that if a proposed change cannot be aligned with the core vision, mission or goals of an organization then the collective commitment of organization members to the change may be difficult to obtain.

Document the Case for Change and the Vision

Change initiatives often flounder because not enough strategic thought is given to communicating the rationale and the expected impact of the change.

To ensure clarity about the change (and to provide a clearer picture of the magnitude and complexity of what is involved) it should be documented. This includes outlining:

Why the initiative is being undertaken - What are the business drivers?
What outcomes and objectives the change is seeking to achieve?
How the change will benefit stakeholders, the organization and the government overall?

Document the Case for Change and the Vision (Continued)

A clear and strategic message is needed about how stakeholders will be impacted, and how the future of the organization will be improved. Importantly, the opportunity for people within the organization to provide input into the development of this message and to participate in overall planning is a key factor in enlisting their support.

The more that the vision has been developed, the easier it will be to convince others to support it.

Note

Moreover the participation of organizational leaders in the development of the change vision will help determine what is strategically most important to the change effort. Without a shared vision of the change, other competing objectives may take priority, making it more difficult to align day-to-day operations with the change goals.

Document the Case for Change and the Vision (Continued)

Successful change projects require a full understanding of the upcoming challenges and complexities, followed by specific actions to address them.

The act of adequately defining and scoping the change ensures more realistic and therefore more credible change management plans.

Lack of early insight leads to a high risk that complexity will be underestimated or even overlooked.

Develop Change Plan and Measures

A significant part of establishing the change vision, outcome and objectives is to identify and agree on the anticipated organizational support required for the change.

This then provides the foundation for the development of specific actionable strategies to achieve the change. Together these strategies form the change plan for the organization.

At the most basic level, the change plan should include the following:

Change Plan

The objectives to be achieved by the change

The agency’s proposed new direction, core business, structure and staffing arrangements to accommodate the change

How the change is to be implemented, including how the change will be communicated to the workforce and other stakeholders

The resources to be used, and the timelines

The means by which performance in the changed environment will be assessed in relation to the stated objectives; i.e. how the organization will know when it has achieved the desired change (Performance indicators and measures).

Develop Change Plan and Measures (Continued)

Having established a case for change and an agreed way forward to achieve this future state, progress should be measured to prove that at the end of the change process that planned outcomes have been achieved and benefits realized.

This is true of every project no matter what its size or nature. It should be noted however that as the change plan is communicated, tested and executed it needs to be flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

All change needs to be navigated and guided - setting the course once and defaulting to automatic pilot will not keep the organization on course through the uncharted waters of change.

END of UNIT

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