Got Transformation Glue?

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My family often asks me, “Jayme, what do you do exactly?” I tell them, “I help organizations realize the value in major program transformations by managing the people side of change.” Before I can even give them an example to help make it relatable, I see that all-to-familiar glazed look in their eyes, and its official… I’ve lost them again!

If you ask most Change Managers, we will tell you that the value of change management is successfully implementing changes that meet their time, budget and quality goals. This statement is supported by continuous research that qualifies and quantifies these benefits. One study completed by IBM found that, on average, only 41% of projects were considered successful, meaning that they fully met their objectives. On the other hand, 44% of projects failed to meet their time, budget or quality goals, while 15% failed to meet all objectives or were stopped all together. A detailed analysis revealed a highly significant correlation between project success and four important change management areas of focus: real insights, solid methods, better skills and right investment. In essence, those Change Managers who excelled in the above focus areas reported an 80% project success rate, nearly double the average.

A recent benchmarking study released by Prosci also discusses the correlation between change management effectiveness and project success, e.g., meeting objectives, staying on or ahead of schedule, staying on or under budget. As you can see, time, budget and quality are measures that are commonly used to evaluate the success of a specific operational change. However, what I wonder is… by emphasizing this operational value of change management, have we lessened its strategic importance?

According to the Business Dictionary, strategy can be defined as, “the art and science of planning and marshalling resources for their most efficient and effective use in order to bring about a desired future, such as the achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.” Therefore, the strategic value of change management would be its contribution to bringing about a desired future for an organization. At its core, this is what change management does! Change management facilitates an organization’s smooth transition from its current state to a future state. Specifically, here are my Top Five Reasons Why Change Management is Strategically Important for an Organization.

  1. Change management contributes to the identification, prioritization and realization of the value brought to an organization, and to a positive return on investment, as a result of the change.
  2. Change management provides leadership responsible for managing the change with a directed course of action, including identified objectives and milestones structured to align the organization’s people and culture with changes in business strategy, technology, processes and organizational structure.
  3. Change management creates a sense of urgency for the change, as well as increases readiness for the change by moving stakeholders toward adoption and empowering them to take ownership.
  4. Change management contributes to a culture of respect and trust by encouraging employee engagement and collaboration during change, which is often a difficult time for most employees.
  5. Change management, as depicted below, reduces the disruption to an organization’s performance brought about by the changes and then moves the organization to productivity levels higher than those prior to the implementation of the change.
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In my opinion, we haven’t lessened the strategic importance of change management by focusing on its operational benefits. Rather, we have attempted to shift the perception that change management is more of an art than a science through quantifiable measurements. This has created opportunities to have discussions with organizational leaders at all levels, where the strategic importance of change management can be emphasized through its operational benefits… and the value of change management can be illuminated one conversation at a time.

Do you agree/disagree with the opinions stated above, and what about change management do you think is still more of an art than a science?

Author: Jayme Johnson

Jayme Johnson, an accomplished transformation strategist in the IBM Global Business Services, has a proven track record in utilizing leading edge change strategies to manage business transformations and help clients realize the value in major program implementations. She has experience designing and executing change management programs in several countries, as well as in many industries, including manufacturing, energy, healthcare and the federal government. She is currently based in Toronto, Canada.

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