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5 key contributors to successful change initiatives







How you can support
organizational transformation and lead a vision for change.

November 16, 2018 | By Lanette Ferguson

Woman in a business meeting

Change. It can be hard enough for one person. Leading a successful change management effort within an organization can be even harder. But the benefit to successful change management can be transformative—improving project outcomes and powering strategic goals.

Recently, a group of our organizational change management (OCM) practitioners got together to discuss some of the challenges we see organizations struggle with when implementing change. The result? The top five behaviors we feel organizations, sponsors and implementation teams can adopt to be successful.

1. Strong and consistent alignment between the primary sponsor and the OCM lead

When the sponsor and OCM lead are aligned, the sponsor is directly informed of ongoing OCM progress, risks and roadblocks. The sponsor is also kept better aware of their roles and responsibilities to help ensure project success. When the sponsor and OCM lead are not in sync, it often leads to misaligned status updates, which can result in unmanaged risk mitigation as well as poor project outcomes. Project success can be compromised due to unclear sponsor roles and responsibilities. All of which are easily mitigated with an ongoing relationship between the sponsor and OCM lead.

2. Having an effective, fully committed, visible and active sponsor

Sponsor(s) own and communicate the change vision while mitigating resistance and modeling new behaviors. Having an effective, fully committed, visible and active sponsor builds a strong partnership and shared purpose for the change. Without a dedicated sponsor, the results are poor. Think: unmanaged project interruptions, resource constraints, unchecked resistance, project delays (or failure), lack of alignment for the change, lack of adoption and slower speed to ROI. With effective sponsorship being the No. 1 contributor to project success, having a strong relationship between the sponsor and OCM lead enables the OCM lead to help prepare the sponsor for their important role in leading change.

3. Sponsor alignment with the leadership of the organization

As the project progresses, alignment at all levels—from executive sponsor through front line supervisors—keeps everyone moving toward the same goal. This ensures less resistance, increased change velocity, increased employee adoption, increased speed to ROI and sustained change.

4. Having a structured, scaled and flexible change management approach aligned to the organization’s maturity level and desired business outcomes

Change initiatives aren’t all the same, so the approach should be flexible and scalable to match the needs of the change while also adhering to standardized change management practices. This doesn’t mean using ad-hoc approaches—it means making sure you are doing the OCM activities that provide the most value and desired outcomes. Using structured change management approaches help build change awareness as stakeholders become comfortable with change. Ad-hoc approaches to change produce stakeholders that aren’t engaged or prepared and create change fatigue.

5. Change networks are valuable and powerful

Change networks utilize influential and respected individuals throughout the organization to manage change at a local level. Those participating in the various change networks (e.g., sponsor coalitions and change champions, super users, early adopters) are called change agents. Change agents assist in driving change by:

  • Working together to communicate, support and implement change throughout the organization
  • Facilitating the change effort and building early ownership by involving key individuals
  • Serving as extensions of, and connections between, project teams and impacted stakeholders
  • Acting as feedback channels to gauge change activities and communications effectiveness, adoption, areas of resistance and change acceptance
  • Coaching and empowering local resources to act
  • Participating in enablement activities and events like roadshows, demonstrations, training, coaching and continual improvement
  • Assisting in driving the adoption and usage of the change
  • Providing local, sustained support at the peer level to impacted stakeholders

Change networks and change agents provide great value to change initiatives. They build stronger commitment and momentum, reduce resistance and increase speed of adoption, utilization and ROI.  When organizations don’t utilize change networks, people are less engaged and less informed, which increases resistance, creates slow or no adoption, increases training and overall project costs, and creates longer implementation cycles.

While there are many factors that contribute to successful change initiatives, focusing on these five contributors—which we see our clients struggle with the most—will set you on a better path toward success.

Looking to make your next change initiative a success? Let’s connect.

Lanette Ferguson is a practice architect within TEKsystems’ Enterprise Service Management OCM practice. She has 16 years of experience working in IT and six years of OCM experience supporting IT change initiatives across various industries, including higher education, insurance, staffing, retail and pharma. She currently serves as vice president on the ACMP Texas Board of Directors while also supporting the Austin region for professional development and networking activities.