Multi-step models for managing change have been adopted by most companies today. Still, teams struggle to lead their initiatives in a way that falls into the “30% that succeed” and even when projects are “complete” and progress more effectively than in the company’s past efforts, the company fails to realize the intended benefits. One quick way to identify where things fell short is to examine where time and effort were allocated throughout the execution of the change process.
Although most models, nearly every change plan, and available consultant tool-kits pay attention to the entire process, from planning to “sustainability,” post-mortem reviews on stalled or failed projects reveals that at least 80% of the focus, energy, and tools/resources were aimed (spent) on two steps: Planning and Implementation (“P” and “I” in our own P.R.I.M.E. model). As a result, little energy can be expelled during the steps of Readiness, Monitoring, and Evaluation—which happen to be the factors that drive adoption, application, and adaptation…and result in sustainability.
Rather than pointing fingers at “waning management support” or writing off the loss of focus and energy in the change initiative as “change fatigue,” the change leader must take responsibility for those actions that will re-balance energy and resources across the initiative’s life cycle.
We have found that the right balance can be achieved by including, among other things:
*Test the planning process and outcomes to ensure that the right balance of resources is allocated throughout the initiative’s life cycle;
*Put mechanisms in place (and make time) for increasing the engagement of stakeholders as the initiative unfolds (not decreasing it—the mark of nearly every program that fails…);
*Review past initiatives and those other market factors or strategic initiatives that are competing for resources and may contribute to losing focus in the midst of a long, complex change initiative and account for these risks in your Planning and Readiness work;
*Proactively discuss these risks with stakeholders—managing their own expectations and securing their active support of focus and energy through the initiative’s life cycle; and
*Don’t burn out your talent—refresh teams during a long initiative by providing opportunities for them to re-energize; rotate new talent into the initiative; and don’t assume that the execution skills required at one stage are the same as those required later in the initiative.
What have you found that works to keep your teams and stakeholders engaged?