- Gather requirements during the initiating phase to articulate a change management plan as part of the project charter.
- Design a plan that integrates the work activities and drives performance by using a specific approach, such as John Kotter's 8-Step model.
- Engage stakeholders early to gather their expectations and gain their commitment.
- Integrate change needs into risk, scope, budget, communication and human resources plans during the planning phase.
- Identify change leaders as part of the project team, or hire subject matter experts to engage and coach staff and leaders to drive change.
- Execute an integrated communication and change management plan that assesses the culture for change readiness, and communicate new expectations and ways of working in the future to become accustomed to new behaviors.
- Generate quick wins to display the new ways of working as examples of change outcomes. I create a quick list of wins by gathering insights from stakeholder interviews and a review of performance measures. This allows the team to build momentum and credibility for the new work approaches.
- Gather feedback during your monitoring phase to modify approaches and thus continue to drive desired change outcomes. This allows you to evaluate what techniques work well and which ones need to be stopped or tweaked to support the adoption of new behaviors.
- Sustain the change by developing a transition plan to operations that includes trained teams. Make sure a sustainability assessment is conducted at predefined periods, beginning with quarterly reviews, to continue governance.
- Celebrate the team's accomplishment on the internal change that will drive the future of the organization. These celebrations should acknowledge individuals and teams who have adopted the new behaviors--and thus help create successful role models for others to learn from and emulate during adoption.
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- If you can't see and articulate how the change is actually going to change work, it probably won't work. Explain "how" and keep explaining to everyone affected by the project's outcomes.
- While it's painful to integrate change management planning into your project planning, it's even more painful to watch your project fail. Make sure all aspects of the change are covered in your project plan or the associated change management plan -- and that the two plans are coordinated.
- Keep explaining the "whys" behind the change. Once is never enough! You need a well-thought-out and implemented communication plan.
- The only antidote to scaremongering is information. And that information needs to be accurate and believed. What's actually going to happen is never as bad as the things people imagine "might happen" in the absence of easy-to-understand, well-communicated facts.
- Agility: We were very nimble, moving quickly to pull and release team members across milestones.
- Change management: Team members' ability to adopt additional support requirements within their groups allowed the full integration to occur.
- Address the "human side" systematically. Engage employees early in the planning phases. Proactively manage suggestions and concerns based on their field of expertise.
- Start at the top. Gaining executive buy-in to ensure the likelihood of success.
- Involve every layer. If the change affects the entire organization, then consider identifying managers at each layer to be responsible for the change management plan.
- Make the formal case. Establish a business case with defined goals that articulate the rationale behind the change and the benefits it will deliver to stakeholders. This could be a renewed organization mission or vision statements.
- Create ownership. Motivate employees to take ownership of the change and leverage the organization's rewards and recognition system to reinforce those team member commitments.
- Communicate the message. Teams need to understand how to be successful in driving change. Establish a formal plan to deliver that message through a communication matrix that includes methods such as town halls, videos, team meetings and informal gatherings.
- Assess the cultural landscape. Assess the organization's values, beliefs and attitudes to obtain the baseline culture. Then contrast the baseline against implications of a new, post-change culture to determine what to communicate to stakeholders as the value of the organization's new culture.
- Address culture explicitly. Provide employees the expectations of the new culture, and identify ways they can help it flourish. Reinforce those who embrace the new culture by using the organization's rewards and recognition system.
- Prepare for the unexpected. There may be a new set of stakeholders not originally considered during the development of the change plan. Remain flexible to integrate their engagement, should it be warranted.
- Speak to the individual. Identify an individual's emotional situation and prepare to understand their reaction to change. Then guide them to adapt to new ways of working.
- Shock or denial, particularly if it's not what they want to hear
- Anger or anxiety, especially considering the point of view of the news
- Resistance then sets in, when the realization of inevitable change looms.
- Acceptance is last, usually turning to support of the change for the better.
As professionals who constantly strive to improve, we study, read, take courses, attend seminars, listen to podcasts and more -- all to become better project managers. Ironically, sometimes this desire to learn causes us to lose focus on the fundamentals.
Instead, we look to novelty, the latest trends and perhaps even the latest fads in the interest of improving.
Likewise, we might embrace sophisticated techniques without ensuring that we've properly implemented the basic things on which the sophisticated techniques depend.
I've often heard great sports figures and musicians emphasize the importance of fundamentals in their success. Project managers would do well to place similar emphasis on the basics of our profession. I'd go even further to suggest that before we embrace any new or sophisticated technique, we should first look at how well we are implementing the fundamentals.
For example, what good does it do us to implement the latest agile techniques on a project where we haven't adequately implemented rudimentary change management disciplines? Similarly, what good would it do to implement Monte Carlo simulations in a context where we haven't adequately identified basic risks?
In my estimation, our success depends almost entirely on how well we have implemented fundamental risk and change management processes.
Things go wrong and plans change -- yet we often charge ahead without adequately planning and preparing for those realities. Certainly, our intuition tells us this is true, and our experience validates our intuition. Yet it still often happens that we lose sight of the obvious fact that the basics matter and matter most.
If you should ever waiver in your conviction, look no further than PMI's 2012 Pulse of the Profession. The report notes that change management and project management basics are among the most critical project success factors.
New and sophisticated techniques have their place, but the best thing to do in any profession is to go back to basics. Don't let the allure of the sophisticated or the novel, distract us from the value of fundamentals.
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The project team probably has a better idea of the technical aspects of the changes required. But, the organization's management initiates the project and has overall responsibility for achieving the intended benefits after the project is complete.
In my opinion, change management is an organizational responsibility. The role of project management is to focus on creating the deliverable effectively and supporting the organizational change effort.
In short, the project management team works for the organizational change management team. However, I have seen many situations where managing the change is treated as a project responsibility.
For those project teams undertaking change management, the change challenge is getting the necessary buy-in from organizational stakeholders who have to make effective use of the project's deliverables to get the expected value from the project.
There is no point in the project team being happy with its work if no one uses it. The way the organization works has to change if the deliverable is going to be used effectively to create value for the organization and generate a ROI on the investment in the project.
Effective communication with the affected stakeholders is a must when addressing the change challenge. These communications follow a fairly standard pattern:
- Explain the reason for the change needs so they are understood.
- Define, communicate and support the actual changes to work practices and behaviors though training or other skills development activities.
- Provide ongoing support to embed the new practices into the operating culture of the organization.
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