The Real Change Pitfalls – Part IV: Risk Mitigation

During the last weeks, I published a series on the real Change Pitfalls. In the fourth and last part I would like to focus on Risk Mitigation as another major topic causing trouble when it comes to Change…

Again, please bear Kotter’s Eight in mind, as failing Risk Mitigation is clearly part of the set of items:

  • Not establishing a great enough sense of urgency
  • Not creating a powerful enough guiding coalition
  • Lacking a vision
  • Under-communicating the vision by a factor of ten
  • Not removing obstacles to the new vision
  • Not systematically planning for–or creating–short term wins
  • Declaring victory too soon
  • Not anchoring changes in the corporation’s culture

Starting Part IV – Risk Mitigation

Reason #9: All Relevant Stakeholders Are Not Identified

While most organizations do a fairly good job at identifying Change impacts for various stakeholder groups, they will often miss the opportunity to further segment stakeholders. Not all stakeholders will be impacted by the Change in the same way or need to be engaged in the same manner. Relevant stakeholders include those who are directly impacted by the Change as well as those who are key influencers within the organization (e.g., certain senior leaders). Change Management Programs sometimes overlook the need to engage external stakeholders sufficiently. Yet this is absolutely critical in Changes to procurement systems or processes, as the magnitude of the impact on external stakeholders in those cases may be high. Failure to identify and engage with these stakeholders may have negative consequences, including compromised relationships, unnecessary rework, and time delays in essential services.

Reason #10: Risks Are Not Identified or Mitigated

Many organizations fail to develop adequate contingency plans. When teams fail to spend time identifying possible risks and developing contingency plans for mitigation, they are generally ill-prepared when the project goes awry. The team makes quick and uninformed decisions to minimize the risks rather than leveraging a pre-defined plan. There are many unintended consequences to this reactive approach. These reactive, hasty, and often suboptimal, decisions lead to greater delays in the project plan, increased consulting fees, and a negative impact on those affected by the Change.


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