Planning and Analysis in Change Management Processes

As you may remember I recently wrote about Kotters “eight change phases“. Within this very post it was stated clearly that executive alignment and vision is important for any successful Change.
But, while the executive vision and support, clearly communicated, is important, it is not enough. During many of the change processes I counseled I always had to demand for more fundamental approaches to planning and analysis. This clearly needs to occur to encourage effective change management.
Let me shortly explain the two sides of the problem, if planning and analysis is done “wrong”:

  1. Company misplanning: Wrong timing, incorrect budget or unrealistic expectations related to the outcome of the Change will lead to discontent and most likely unnecessary additional change processes –> risk of constant negative Change.
  2. Agency misplanning: Wrong budget calculation, insufficient understanding of the company and absurd promises will lead to a massive overload of staff and therefore poor performance, as consultants have to either rush or claim losses (what they will not do) –> risk of worsening due to false advisory.

What can be done?

Assess the readiness of your organization to participate in the Change. Several instruments (I will write about them in later posts) are available to help you assess organizational change readiness, as well as qualitative information from internal or external staff and consultants. Try to answer questions such as these (only exemplary):

  • What is the level of trust within your organization?
  • Do people feel generally positive about their work environment.
  • Do you have a history of open communication?
  • Do you share financial information?

All of these factors above have a tremendous impact on people’s acceptance of and willingness to Change. If you can start building this positive and supportive environment prior to the Change, you have a great head start on the change implementation.

Next steps!

  1. Turn the change vision into an overall plan and timeline. Solicit input to the plan from people who “own” or work on the processes that are changing.
  2. Gather information about and determine ways to communicate the reasons for the changes. These may include the changing economic environment, customer needs and expectations, vendor capabilities, government regulations, population demographics, financial considerations, resource availability and company direction.
  3. Assess each potential impact to organization processes, systems, customers and staff. Assess the risks and have a specific improvement or mitigation plan developed for each risk.
  4. Plan the communication of the change. People have to understand the context, the reasons for the change, the plan and the organization’s clear expectations for their changed roles and responsibilities. Nothing communicates expectations better than improved measurements and rewards and recognition.
  5. Determine the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) of the change for each individual in your organization. Work on how the change will affect each individual directly, and how to make the change fit his or her needs as well as those of the organization.
  6. Be honest and worthy of trust. Treat people with the same respect you expect from them (I wrote about this in an earlier posts: respect helps to overcome resistance to Change).

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