Rate of Change and Change Saturation increase

Successful changeDepressing News: change saturation increases

Recent data reported by Prosci show that both the amount of change expected by organisations and the number of organisations saturated by change have increased. This is a gloomy outlook given the problems most organisations have in doing change. Lets put these three ideas together and see what can be done.

Increase in amount of change

In a recent white paper, Prosci have discussed Change saturation. Their white paper gives data from the 2011 survey (above) which shows that 71% of managers expect to have more change in the next two years (2011-2013) that in the period before. Given an assumption that organisations have a limited capacity to do change then more will reach the point where that capacity is reached if the above data is correct.

In most systems, operating at or close to some limit significantly reduces efficiency. For instance, a warehouse can never be 100% full because that doesn’t leave any room to move stuff around; an optimal operating point for efficiency is nearer 75-80%. Change is the same. A little headroom is needed to meet unforeseen problems or bursts of activity. So when an organisation reaches or exceeds its capacity for change then change effectiveness suffers a big drop.

Change saturation increases

Prosci have just released some preliminary data from their more recent survey (2013) which shows that the increase in change has happened as predicted.

This data shows 77% or respondents with none or insufficient headroom in their capacity to operate efficient change. This has to be a really scary scenario because the amount of change is not going to decrease and the capacity of organisations to change is not going to increase a huge amount either.

There are only two things an organisation can do in these circumstances:

  1. Reduce the amount of change they attempt. This means using a portfolio approach with an effective mechanism for prioritising all change activity in the organisation. The level of control and discipline required for this is not going to appear overnight either!
  2. Make the existing capacity more effective. This means the change that is attempted is much more likely to be successful and by using innovative and challenging approaches it is done more efficiently. Growing this more capable change capacity is also going to take time.

The implication is that for most organisations they need to start right now in meeting the challenge of change saturation.

Change Capability

To help organisations understand what change capability is and how to improve it we have developed a change capability model, based on the standard maturity model concept. Recent data has shown that there is a huge difference in the amount of change success experienced by organisations at different levels.

Success rates for different levels of change capability.

Success rates for different levels of change capability.

Based on an IBM survey and mapping the IBM characteristics of different levels of behaviours onto our capability model we suggest that at the lowest level success is 8% or less, whereas at the top two levels success is 80% or more. A difference of a factor of 10.

This simple data shows that there is a path towards a solution to the change saturation problem. It requires organisations to improve their level of change capability which will lead to the improvements in doing change that makes their change capacity more effective. This approach helps with both of the strategies identified above.

If you would like to find out more about how you can measure and improve your change capability then please get in touch with us.

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