5 Must-Do’s to Prepare Change

March 29, 2010
153 Views

I already mentioned IBM’s The Enterprise of the Future survey, revealing that companies are more and more bombarded by change. The winning businesses will therefore be the ones having developed a real appetite for change. Lead, drive, facilitate or manage change: the wording isn’t really relevant; what is important is that the people impacted by change eventually adhere to and take ownership of it. The fact that some changes  (M&A’s, cost reduction plans) seem more difficult to adhere to than others (HSE initiatives, implementation of attractive tools) should not mislead managers from the principle that what really counts is what is done to prepare and implement the change. So let’s start with preparing. Here are 5 ways to be on good tracks:

  1. Adopt a project approach not only to bring structure but also visibility to what you are trying to accomplish. As soon as possible, you should select a project team that will cover a wide range of skills (managerial, technical, behavioural) and business areas. For a Product Quality project you should have people who know what they’re talking about but not only qualiticians! People who



I already mentioned IBM’s The Enterprise of the Future survey, revealing that companies are more and more bombarded by change. The winning businesses will therefore be the ones having developed a real appetite for change. Lead, drive, facilitate or manage change: the wording isn’t really relevant; what is important is that the people impacted by change eventually adhere to and take ownership of it. The fact that some changes  (M&A’s, cost reduction plans) seem more difficult to adhere to than others (HSE initiatives, implementation of attractive tools) should not mislead managers from the principle that what really counts is what is done to prepare and implement the change. So let’s start with preparing. Here are 5 ways to be on good tracks:

  1. Adopt a project approach not only to bring structure but also visibility to what you are trying to accomplish. As soon as possible, you should select a project team that will cover a wide range of skills (managerial, technical, behavioural) and business areas. For a Product Quality project you should have people who know what they’re talking about but not only qualiticians! People who represent various areas of the quality chain, different sites if it’s a multi site project, 1 or 2 person that may seem reluctant to the change but can bring an expertise, are all possibly good candidates. Then of course there is a question of team dynamics. Adopting a project approach is also about defining your project terms of reference: “plans are nothing but planning is everything” said Eisenhower. In other words it is not so much the result but the process that counts. Take time to define your ojectives, deliverables, project milestones , scope and activity plan. Identify and analyse the risks. Determine your project KPI’s.
  2. Decide on a vision, a main goal for the change. Do it in a simple, clear and precise style. Avoid business buzz words and ask yourself if any of your shop floor or front office people would understand. As an example, Shel, for its Technical Integrity program came up with: “our assets are safe and we know it”, simple and compelling. Asking yourself “what could success look like?” should get you on good tracks.
  3. Identify the key benefits of the change for each group impacted. Bare in mind that what seems a benefit to you as a manager (profits, performance improvement) doesn’t necessarily apply to everybody else. People have different views about why something is attractive and this is what must be identified. If your project team is sufficiently mixed they will find answers.
  4. Find out how the various stakeholder groups will react to the change. An excellent tool for that is to design a stakeholder map: start by listing all key stakeholders (groups or individuals who have an interest in the change), position them on a matrix indicating their level of support to the change and their level of influence in the organisation. Doing this job will help you determine how to speak to and involve those various groups. Which leads me to the last point
  5. Involve people and assign responsibilities as early as possible in the process. Set up additional teams, tasks forces, action teams or whatever you want to call them to work on subjects, tasks that will make the change real. Give them enough responsibilities so they can heavily influence the way the change will eventually look like.