I recently sat in a project management meeting discussing a large organisational wide initiative when someone piped up and said “We need organisational change management on this project”. You could hear a pin drop! Not only were there a number of blank stares around the room from those who either didn’t see the need or didn’t understand what organisational change management meant, but silence from those that knew the person was right.
Why the silence? Because:
- It will cost more money
- We don’t have the time
- We don’t have the skills or capability
- We don’t have the resources
Excuses, excuses, excuses that rattle around the halls of most organisations.
We all know that change is constant but too often forget or ignore that the majority of those changes impact people. The project focus still remains on delivering a solution on time, on budget and meeting stated requirements.
But achievement of each of these goals is futile if the change is not adopted and embraced by the people in the organisation. It is futile unless people change the way they work.
People are creatures of habit. Generally we like being in our comfort zone. When faced with a change that may require us to alter the way we work, learn new skills, use new technology, or alter our roles and responsibilities, fear can kick in.
Fear of the change will not spur people to explore the change, identify the reasons for change, understand the need for change, consider the benefits it may bring to both themselves and the organisation, and ultimately embrace the change.
According to Prosci, an organisational change management research organisation, if your project has an effective organisational change component you will be six times more likely to achieve your original objectives.
Projects need to incorporate the change management component up front. It is too late when the change is underway and we are wondering why it is not having the desired effect. The cost of organisational change management needs to be calculated as a part of the overall project cost. It will undoubtedly increase the cost but if there is to be a return on investment it is an imperative. Justification of the additional cost is easy if you look around at the number of failed initiatives that failed to deliver due to a lack of organisational change management. I am sure you can find them in your organisation.
For nearly three decades the experts have been telling us that 70% of project fail due to a lack of organisational change management. So they should be easy to find!
In a nutshell organisational change management will:
- Identify all the groups of people impacted by the change
- Establish an understanding of the culture of each impacted group and their specific needs
- Create an awareness of the need to change, a desire to change and equip people with the knowledge and ability to make the change
- Provide executive sponsors and supporting sponsors with the skills and capability to help people transition through the change
- Communicate effectively across the entire organisation ensuring that the ‘right’ messages are received by the ‘right’ people
- Identify and support the early adopters and champions of the change
- Assist the opponents to the change to become adopters of the change
- Ensure that the change becomes embedded into the fabric of the organisation and that the new way of working simple becomes ‘the way in which we do things around here’
The last bullet point is probably one of the most important. Organisational change management does not stop when the project stops. It continues to ensure that the reason for the change and the need for change are continually reinforced until it becomes business as usual. Project management ‘installs’ the change whilst organisational change management ‘implements’ the change. Organisational change management makes it stick and delivers the return on investment.
Can you really afford to ignore it?