Implementing Change in Organizations: Dos and Don’ts

Organizations today are changing more rapidly than ever before. We are constantly faced with reasons to change and improve, including an increasingly competitive market, new technological advancements, cultural differences, crises, political influence, performance issues, mergers and acquisitions, and the list goes on.

Every organization confronts one or more of these issues regularly. John P. Kotter notes in his article Leading Change: Why Transformational Efforts Fail that most "change improvement" projects are set up to fail. Organizations skip necessary steps to successfully implement change, or speed through improvement efforts without considering all areas that may be affected by the change. Successfully managing change means first creating the organizational context in which change can occur.

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When beginning a change improvement effort, consider the following list of Dos and Don’ts:

DO understand your current state and need for change. Gain visibility into your current business systems and processes. Utilize Business Process Management (BPM) to do a deep dive into business and to identify gaps and problem areas.

DON’T fail to see the root cause issues. Conducting a Root Cause Analysis will help you answer the questions of what the main problems are, and why the problems occurred in the first place. This will dictate the real need for change.

DO implement a results-driven improvement approach. All improvement activities should be implemented using specific, measureable outcomes. Take the long-term vision and break it down into incremental, attainable, short-term performance goals, building on what works, and discarding what doesn’t.

DON’T continue implementing arbitrary improvement activities without a specific goal in mind. Focusing on change activities without a specific outcome driving the change can lead to years of pouring time, energy and money into a project without seeing any return on investment.

DO anchor the changes into the business's culture. This takes effort and participation at all levels of the organization. In order to ensure the culture can and will change, there must be executive buy-in. Executives must lead by example and personify the new approach. Although key to the effort, it is not just the executives who need to accept the change, everyone in the organization must think, feel or do something different to enable successful change.

DON’T forget stakeholders. Identifying and engaging stakeholders can make all the difference when implementing change. Stakeholders at all levels have the insight and influence needed to successfully identify the need for change, develop plans to change, and to implement sustainable improvement approaches.

DO have a clear vision, and continuously work towards that vision. Use this vision to guide people through the change. This will reduce the likelihood of moving in the wrong direction, reduce errors, and it will be the difference between success and failure.

Take control of your organization, and manage the change. Be proactive, not reactive!

To learn more, contact Thought Layer to discuss your Business Engineering needs and strategic approaches that will enable your business for success in an ever-changing and increasingly competitive world.

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