Change saturation – change centres on stakeholders

C4CM stakeholder engagement Its the stakeholders that decide if a change is a success or failure. No matter how hard the change team plan a change, nor how creatively the team designs a change; if the stakeholders don’t buy in the change will not happen. Prosci are collecting data for their next research survey of organisations. To promote the research they have released a few facts from their previous research survey in 2011. The facts can be characterised in two areas:

  • Dealing with stakeholders
  • The problems of doing change management

This blog explores the stakeholders and their importance identified by the research.

Change saturation

In 2011 73% of respondents reported they were near or at the point of saturation in change; in 2009 the figure was 66%. So more organisations are trying to do more change than ever before. What is also clear from the survey is that change is no more effective (nor less effective) than before. Once an organisation reaches saturation (or close to it) the effectiveness of all change drops off significantly and change becomes very inefficient. That is a well known phenomena in a lot of systems. The consequence is that the organisation is unable to carry out the change it needs to survive and slowly, but inevitably, declines into oblivion. Does that sound familiar?

Its the stakeholders that are saturated. How can we save them, and their organisation? The answer is incredibly simple: prioritise and control change so that only the most important (not the most urgent) is carried out. Fully resource the change you do make to ensure the best chance of success. The resourcing of change is one of the key parameters controlling how much change to allow. Impose a change control board across the whole organisation.

Explain why

In 2011 the most important message to communicate and share with employees was the reason for the change. In other words communicate to motivate. A lot of change communication is about the change and its minutiae. What most employees want to know from the start is why, not how, or what, or when. This is the role of the Vision (captured in a statement if appropriate). A well constructed Vision used effectively by all of the change team, and especially the sponsor, will bring both consistency and motivation to stakeholders.

An effective vision needs to contain emotion and use emotive language. People will not change unless they have energy. Humans get energy from emotions so change involves stirring up emotions. Sometimes the emotions go negative; mostly they are positive; either way emotion is an essential ingredient of a successful change. Learn to love it! See our qualification on Vision and Blueprint for more.

The most important message in 2011 to managers and executives was about their role and expectations of their behaviour during change. In effect their leadership. Most managers don’t know how to support change for success; nor do they understand their power to destroy change by their behaviour. The role of managers and executives is spelled out in the programme management method. See our introductory course. One of the strongest arguments for having a parallel change team alongside line management to deliver change is the problem of getting all of the line managers aligned and promoting the change effectively.

Change one person at a time

VirginiaSatirA quote from Virginia Satir (a psychotherapist, author on change, and early developer of NLP) says “you change an organisation one person at a time”. So it is important to track individual change. Yet in 2011 less than half of the organisations surveyed by Prosci were measuring whether change was occurring at the individual level. The most common methods of tracking individual change was feedback and performance tracking. We have already argued that performance monitoring is an essential part of effective change. It provides the raw data for tracking change and finding the pockets of resistance and lack of progress.

If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. So the basis of change management has to be measurement of change.

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