Category Archives: Change Function

Watch a blunder in action?

Universal Credit blunders on

Universal CreditA number of recent news items and blog posts in the technical sphere are signposting the UK Government’s Universal Credit programme as the next Government blunder. See our recent blog posts on human bias and systemic problems lessons learned based on a recently published book by Prof. Anthony King and Sir Ivor Crewe called The Blunders of our Governments. Put the two together and the future looks bleak because another part of the government appears to be incapable of learning lessons. Why is change so hard? Because people won’t learn from the past!

Click here to see why this is a blunder in the making

It’s still the Senior Manager wot did it

Contributors to Change Success

A recent email from Prosci about their 2013 survey (results published this year) lists the top seven contributors to change success. This is probably the most important result from the survey and the most widely reported. Top of the list, again, and by a large margin is ‘active and visible executive sponsorship‘. There are some changes in the other contributors. All have been re-written to make them more compelling. I notice that dedicated change management resources and funding has moved up the list.

to read about the rest, click here

Change Manager Standards

Two new standards announced

The effective change managerIn the last few months two organisations have announced standards to define the role of the Change Manager. We wait for years for the role to get a formal definition and then two turn up at once.

We believe that these standards are an important development in the maturity of managing change as a subject and especially for the role of the Change Manager. They indicate an increasing awareness of the need for the role and the need to define it professionally.  Below I work through the importance of these standards, their context, and the dangers they may present.

click to see the upsides and downsides of the standards

Making Decicions Work

Before, During, After

Scott McNealyI have put up a number of posts about making decisions and especially the key role of decision making in Change Management; such as ‘Good enough decisions‘ and ‘making decisions at the right time‘. I have come across a quote, attributed to Scott McNealy a founder and CEO of Sun Microsystems, which has put decision making into a bigger context and has implications for the process of doing change. The quote is “I put most of my effort into making my decisions work”. The insight I get from Scott is the need to balance the effort in decision making across the whole process leading up to the decision, making the decision, and implementing the decision.

A decision process

It is not difficult to build a three step process for decision making. What is surprising is that most of the effort (as suggested by Scott McNealy) is in the third step. Here are my suggested steps:

  1. Prepare for the decision
  2. Make the decision
  3. Implement the decision

Decision StepsBased on my earlier blogs and reading (such as the Chip Heath book on Decision Making) I have put together a simple description of the steps following the diagram on the right.

1. Prepare

The work in preparing covers:

  • Working out the information required to make the decision and getting hold of that information.
  • Choosing the appropriate time to make the decision (not too early and not too late) see blog on big science.
  • Exploring the risks around the decision: especially assumptions about the future and information that cannot be obtained in time to make the decision (which leads to assumptions).
  • Working out who needs to provide input to the decision and who will make the decision.
  • Preparing options for the decision.
  • What needs to be done to implement the decision and who needs to be involved, given the options and risks. (Most decision making is choosing between options).

 2. Making the decision

Making a decision should be a social activity. The people who need to be involved should be able to debate the options, risks, and possible outcomes. Hopefully those represented will reflect the people affected by the decision. The person who is accountable will then make the decision.

3. Implement the decision

This is the piece of insight for me. Having made the decision in the best possible way given the risks and options the person responsible now puts their shoulder behind the effort to make this decision work. This implies not taking a fatalistic view of the future (it will be what it will be) but of being proactive and making the future fit the plans so that the decision works.

This is the part where all the effort happens. The preparation for the decision will have identified activities needed to make the decision work; including risk mitigation activities.

Decisions in Change

There are lots of decisions to be made during an organisational change: what to change, when to change, who to change, etc. If we follow a significant decision: to actually start the change in a part of the business — typically moving from planning the change to implementing the change — we can see the similarity in the change process built around this decision. A similar decision lies around declaring the change complete (the outcomes and performance have been achieved). In both cases, the effort to make the decision work comes after the decision and is quite substantial.

I like the idea of making a good enough decision and then working hard to make it the right decision; rather than working hard to make the ‘right’ decision and then hoping hindsight is sufficient. You will notice that politicians often fret about being right and don’t like being wrong; and that the media hold them to account in a similar way. Is this a good way to run a country, let a lone an important change? Let me know what you think via twitter or add a comment to the blog.


Do you know why?

picture of the word whyWhy is it important?

Three things popped into my mind this week: a paper in the recent Sloan Management Review about the basic question every project should answer; a graphic in a book about project types due to Eddie Obeng; and recollections about reviewing projects. They all revolve around the question ‘why are we doing this project?’. The answer for a change project is the list of benefits! But obviously tackling the question is harder than you might think.

click here to find out how hard and why!