The phrase ‘Change Program’ has a perforative connotation associated with it as so many people have been through so many programs that did not have any results and which distracted them for long periods of time. When making significant and strategic change there is usually an unspoken assumption that the process will be slow, time-consuming and be akin to changing the direction of a supertanker. Many change programs, especially in corporations will run for a year or two, if not longer. The ongoing statements by the consultants (internal or external), the change agents, the Directors, and other stakeholders are something along the lines of “We realise we must invest money and time into this program and that it will be a hard, long, and slow process that will not return measurable results for at least twelve months. We must carefully consider each move and minimise risk along the way”
This is wrong!
Careful consideration is absolutely essential
Minimising risk is incredibly important as things will go wrong
Making the process long and slow is a kiss of death for the programs chance of success and delays the return on investment that should be generated.
Careful and thorough do not mean slow!
Change programs that provide genuine Return On Investment AND are sustained are in my experience change programs that provide a very quick benefit to the people involved in making the change occur.
So what do you have to do in order to accelerate your change program?
1. Explicitly define how the client condition will be improved by your change program.
If you cannot explicitly define the benefits to your end customer before you start, then don’t start! Find a different program. A change program that does not deliver any benefits to the client will provide little return on investment and generally annoy people who are involved.
2. Why are we waiting?
Continually ask this question whenever you are looking at the due dates of tasks and activities. Especially ask this question in any sort of committee or decision making body. Strip it away and see if the reason that time is required is truly for data gathering or is it a case of deferring a decision for no real reason. If the change project is the right one and has a clearly defined benefit then it should be a priority above other day to day activities. Completing ‘Change Program’ activities only when the rush is over will kill your program and cause you to miss out on the benefits.
3. All for one, All for me!
No matter how much we can read about people seeing the light and jumping on board for new initiatives it is a reality that some will not. When the CEO makes a decision to implement a change then the only question that other’s should ask is ‘How best do I support the execution of that decision?’ Genuine concerns and obstacles need to be addressed within the program. For some people it is all about them, their power, protecting their position, allowing them to remain doing the same activities. That is not acceptable.If there is a guerrilla campaign to frustrate the program then do not mess around, the culprits need to go, and need to go yesterday.
Have a look at past, present, and future change programs and how you think these three issues come into play for you.