Identify the change activities
Two possible techniques for brainstorming the potential change activities are:
- breakdown structure
- Mind Mapping®.
A breakdown structure diagram is used to identify the core achievements of the change. These core achievements are then broken down into more specific achievements, adding more detail as you move through each layer of the diagram, until there is a clear picture of the total change. Once the achievements (milestones) have been defined, the order and priority associated with the milestones can be plotted via a flow diagram.
A Mind Map is a diagram that consists of a central core (in this case the change that is being planned) with multiple branches to represent different ideas or thoughts, and in this case, for the possible achievements (milestones). Different branches can be represented with different colours. By presenting ideas in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, Mind Maps encourage a brainstorming approach to planning in those who like to represent information visually.
Establish the milestones
One of the problems with making change happen is that many people don’t know where to start, which is always a good reason for procrastinating. A roadmap can help to signpost all the steps involved.
The roadmap is not as detailed as a plan; its purpose is to define the major milestones of the change. A milestone can be:
- a statement of a capability that the organisation now has that it did not have before;
- a statement about a task, process or product that no longer takes place or is no longer produced.
Figure 6 demonstrates how these positive and negative milestones can be an irregular pattern, sometimes with more endings of capability than beginnings.
Use the following statements to generate content for your roadmap.
- trained staff
- defined processes
- relocated staff
- new suppliers
- new contracts
- new products
- new services.
We are now able to:
- offer existing services to a wider range of customers;
- offer new services to existing customers;
- offer new services to a wider range of customers;
- support a new internal customer;
- process specific types of instruction;
- produce a new type of report;
- increase the information provided by an existing report;
- increase the data that can be accessed by a supplier, customer, internal customer or members of this department.
We no longer:
- attend a specific meeting;
- produce a specific report;
- use a specific system;
- support a specific customer or supplier group;
- support a specific internal customer;
- report to the existing management level or group;
- restrict or remove access to specific data for specific groups (customers, suppliers, internal customers, members of this department).
A popular alternative to creating a roadmap is to create a blueprint. This is a more detailed design of the vision describing the state of the organisation after the achievement of each capability. Different headings are used to describe each part of the organisation, but best management practice from Managing Successful Programmes3 (MSP®) suggests that these headings should be the POTI model, which sets a high level for what must be included and integrated in an effective blueprint:
P Processes, business models of operations and functions, including changes to operational costs and performance levels
O Organisational structure, staffing levels, roles, skills requirements and changes to organisational culture, style and personnel
T Technology, IT systems and tools, equipment, buildings, machinery, accommodation requirements
I Information and data requirements, changes from existing to future state, including details of any new developments or redevelopments.
One of the benefits of the blueprint is that its four headings provide a structure for recording the activities in the change plan. However, there are lots of interdependencies between the headings and this can make the blueprint very difficult to write.
If I add a new process, I have to ensure I add in any people, systems or measurements related to them. If I realise I have forgotten one of our systems, I have to rework my processes, organisation structure and data requirements accordingly. This level of interdependence means that ultimately we are less likely to have left anything out, but it does need a high degree of concentration to get it right.
The structure of the blueprint easily lends itself to involving different teams in considering specific aspects of the change, for example, HR and department managers to plot the new organisation structure.
Human Resources are implementing a new web-based system to manage bookings for training courses and workshops and reduce the amount of paper-based administration. The system offers learners and trainers access to course details and materials online so that learning can take place on demand, and it provides an online community for the exchange of ideas. Trainers will be able to see delegate lists and record results from examinations and tests directly into the system.
The current spreadsheet based system (Asign) will be decommissioned at the end of the change, and the new system (Devolve) will run in parallel for three months as bookings for courses are transferred by the training team within HR.
In Figure 7, we have broken down the achievements of the new learning management system into two areas: event administration and course delivery. For each of these areas, more specific milestones have been defined.
In this example, the Mind Map has three branches that show how the learners, trainers and HR staff will experience the new capability.
The roadmap shows those milestones that generate new functionality (in blue), alongside those milestones that lead to the cessation of specific tasks or systems (in orange).
- Processes: Procedures for system security and data protection include items for controlling access to exam results, pre-course materials and online communities.
- Organisational structure: Job description for an HR administrator includes responsibilities for online community moderation.
- Technology: Devolve is included in the IT architecture plan for the organisation.
- Information: Trainers are evaluated on the timeliness of completion of online course administration, including inputting of exam results. Performance of the learning management system is evaluated via measures including:
learner access to online pre-course materials
online course evaluation by learners.
Create the change plan
The change plan translates the capabilities defined in the road map or blueprint into a set of activities. It is not a project plan as each plan has a different purpose. The project plan identifies, schedules and resources all of the activities needed to create and deliver a change. The change plan, also known as the ‘transition plan’, ‘mobilisation plan’ or ‘embedding plan’, identifies the activities needed to persuade, motivate and engage those impacted by the change to adopt it and embed the change, so that it becomes the new ‘business as usual’.
The majority of the activities in the change plan are:
- redefining how work is carried out so that the new system, equipment, procedure or behaviour can be incorporated;
- training employees into how to use the new system, equipment, procedures or required behaviours;
- communicating what the change is, why it is needed and what its likely impact will be;
- building support for the change and a desire to implement it.
There is no set way to structure a change plan. The example used in this book builds on the commonly held view that change has three phases: pre-transition, transition and post-transition, as shown in Figure 10 and then described in detail.
Pre-transition activities attempt to ensure that everyone involved has the necessary information to participate. This includes understanding their role, the activities they are responsible for, who to report progress to and how to report it, what to do if things don’t go according to plan, and making sure that they have sufficient time for these tasks.
As one of our contributors explained:
When we know a change is coming, I like to make sure that we have cleared the decks and got rid of anything that we don’t need or don’t use any more. If there are any tasks that we have been putting off, I make sure we get them done. I don’t know how easy we are going to find the change, so I want as much mess cleared up before we start as possible.
Pre-transition is about preparation. Contributors to this book identified three areas that should be addressed:
- preparing the people involved;
- preparing changes to processes;
- preparing performance measures and key performance indicators.
Prepare the people
If there are new reporting lines, new teams to form, new roles and responsibilities to apply then start moving people into these new structures as soon as possible. Even if they have to keep doing their ‘old jobs’ in the new structure, the sooner that new relationships can form, and new teams establish themselves, the greater the probability that the change will be successful. This preparation also frees people to attend relevant training. Ideally this takes place over a period of time so that individuals can consider how they will apply what they are learning, and raise questions and issues at later training sessions.
Prepare the processes
Effective change is about how things will work in the future, and many contributors to this book made the point that it is the future state that is most important, so it is those processes that need to be mapped out. The following quote illustrates this:
If we begin by mapping our existing procedures, then we are adding no value to what we do now, and we are not making any progress on how we will do things in the future. My staff know their existing jobs, they want to know what will be different so that’s what we work on.
It is important to define what is being done, by whom and how the process is governed and by whom and how exceptional items are addressed. Consider the following points:
- What is the trigger for the new process?
- Does this trigger originate from a new source e.g. a new team or a new system?
- What are the inputs to the process?
- What activities transform these inputs into outputs?
- Where do the outputs go?
- Is there any quality control required on the inputs to the process?
- How are the activities assessed to ensure that all steps are undertaken correctly?
- Is there any quality control required on the outputs to the process?
- What happens if an input is incorrect?
- What happens if an output is incorrect?
- What actions are taken if the process is not followed correctly?
Another contributor emphasised the need for ‘blue sky thinking’.
We will not make the changes we need to make by amending what we have now. We need to be radical, we need to start with a clean sheet of paper and we need to ask ‘what are we trying to achieve’ and stop thinking about how we might achieve it.
Although existing processes are near the end of their life, there is still value in identifying manual interventions, duplicate tasks and the creation of outputs that are no longer used. Simply knowing that more streamlined practices are to be introduced can galvanise people into improving what they do now, and this ‘bounce’ in efficiency can be helpful in creating a positive environment and freeing time to take part in further preparation for the change.
Prepare the key performance indicators (KPIs)
If systems and processes are changing, then current measures of success may no longer be valid. In many organisations measures have built up over time in an ad hoc manner. For example, by measuring how much work is done, or how quickly it is done, enables us to ensure that we are not slipping below minimum standards. Measuring levels of satisfaction, repeat business or order value reassure us that we are meeting customer expectations. As part of preparing for the change, define what levels of service customers can reasonably expect in the new environment, and work with sales, marketing and business development units to communicate these expectations.
There is also a need to specify what internal customers can reasonably expect once the change has taken place, so there are no unpleasant surprises. This also acts as a catalyst for internal customers to amend their own processes to take account of the change.
Performance measures should include the performance we require from others, as well as the performance we expect from ourselves. If there are time, scope or quality criteria that we need suppliers to meet, then these should be established. In some cases, these may be formalised into service level agreements, written into a formal contract and in some cases attached to penalty clauses.
We are a performance-driven culture, so the most important thing for me to get right is how I measure the success of my team. Whatever we are changing, I want to know what the measures of productivity, costs and customer satisfaction are going to be.
Transition activities make the change a reality. However the change is phased, those doing things differently will require support. In this part of the plan, identify as many innovative ways of providing this support as possible and identify the resources required.
The three types of activity to be included in the transition phase of the change plan are:
- doing things the new way and stopping doing things the old way;
- monitoring activities to ensure that the new ways of working are delivering what was required;
- controlling activities to make amendments to the new ways of working.
Transition can be a time of great stress, as individuals spend time and energy learning new ways of working, whilst trying to maintain their normal levels of work. This normally results in a performance dip, as shown in Figure 11. The gradient and breadth of the dip will be dependent on the level of support received – this impacts on the speed with which they adapt to the new environment. This support can take many forms, including the provision of temporary staff to maintain existing rates of work, or an agreement by management to accept lower productivity during the period of change.
Post-transition activities involve continued support and embedding. In reality, embedding involves removing all traces of the old ways of working, so that when problems are encountered with the change, efforts are made to solve it, rather than taking the easy route by returning to the old ways.
The desire to return to the old ways should never be underestimated. Contributors to this book provided many instances of this, even by those that the change practitioners believed had really adopted the change. Two common prompts for going backwards appear to be:
- The new way of working does not take account of a specific one-off type of transaction that was addressed by the old processes.
- There is concern that new processes are not fast enough to cope, for example during financial year end or during the busiest sales periods, creating pressure points.
Sometimes this return to the old systems, reports or processes is the first step in a gradual return to many of the old ways of working.
In creating a change plan, we are attempting to predict every activity needed to realise the vision of the change. As we cannot predict the future, we need to remember that:
- Our plan will contain activities that are not required.
- Our plan will miss out a lot of activities that turn out to be essential.
Nevertheless, we do need some idea of what to do, when to do it and who should be doing it, but we should consider:
- An effective change plan will draw in ideas from top-down and bottom-up – the plan cannot come from a single source as no one has all the requisite knowledge.
- The plan will evolve throughout the change, so there will be many versions of it, and the first version should not be regarded as set in stone.
- There are many layers of detail, and a workable plan will have a hierarchy of a high-level plan, and more detailed plans beneath covering specific areas of work. Trying to capture everything in one plan creates an unwieldy document that is too big and too detailed to be used by everyone involved.
- Multiple versions and multiple layers of detail require a simple structure for updating, so that as information changes, all the plans remain up to date and aligned with each other.
Throughout the plan – pre-, during and post-transition – there need to be points at which progress is formally monitored and where necessary corrective action is taken. As change is so difficult to predict, corrective action often includes identifying additional activities and/or agreeing that some activities are no longer required. This fluidity is essential in responding to the reality of the change as it evolves.
Our planner is excellent at keeping everything up to date. As soon as she updates one of the team plans she adds a note to the master plan and if she changes the master plan she assesses each team plan and amends them where needed. She sends a regular email listing each change and which plans have been impacted by it.
A common misunderstanding about plans is that they are a schedule of activities, which specify start and finish times and name the resource responsible for each activity. Whilst this is an important element of the plan, the plan should include more information, as shown in Figure 12.
There is no one right way to create a change plan. In large organisations with significant IT support, you may have access to planning software that automatically tracks progress, sends update emails and enables you to create multiple linked plans, so that when an activity is completed on one plan, all the other plans are automatically updated. In other cases, a simple spreadsheet of the activities involved may be sufficient.
Planning doesn’t come naturally to everyone; typically people will produce reasons for a delay in planning such as:
- We need to finish the staff consultation before we can identify the change activities.
- Senior management has not yet agreed the timing of the change, so it is not worth putting a plan together.
However, a plan creates a very clear communication about the change, and gives stability and consistency that people can then adopt into their working lives. They understand what is expected and they know what they have to do, so they can get some control back by deciding when and how to do it.
Communicate the change
Communicating change is not a one-off exercise – it is integral to every change activity. The techniques provided here can be applied throughout the change life cycle to generate motivation and support for the change and address those concerned with its impact.
There are lots of different techniques for identifying stakeholders. In Managing Successful Programmes, stakeholders are divided into:
- Users – those who will use or benefit from the change.
- Influencers – opinion formers who can influence how others see the change including unions, staff groups and the media.
- Providers – suppliers and other business partners who will be participating in the change.
- Governance – those who manage and control the change including steering committees, management boards, and audit and compliance functions.
Other techniques identify stakeholders by walking through the organisation from its inception, its development of products and services, and delivery to customers. These are supplemented by stakeholders external to the organisation who have an interest in its performance. This start-to-finish technique is shown in Figure 13.
Once the stakeholders have been identified, analysis is required to understand:
- What is their level of involvement in the change?
- How much are they impacted by it?
- How much can they influence it?
- What is their level of commitment to the change?
- What is their strength of feeling about the change?
- How much energy and effort are they likely to employ in promoting their point of view about the change?
There was one common thread running through the interviews for this book:
I don’t really care what the stakeholders think about the change – the really important thing is how much effort they are going to put into it. If they hate it, but aren’t going to do anything about it, that’s OK, but if they hate it and they are going to make time for everyone to know why they hate it, then that’s a problem.
The appropriate type of communication is the product of a number of factors including the impact of the change and the level of support that it has.
Stakeholder commitment analysis
Assessing the impact of change to the stakeholders
To assess the impact of the change across all stakeholders, use an impact matrix. On one axis, list the type of impact that the change will have, and on the other axis, list the stakeholders impacted by the change. Use this matrix to plot which stakeholders are affected by which impact. For example, customer-facing staff might include call centre operators (business line 1) and account managers (business line 2), where changes in performance levels impact the call centre operators and new contracts affect the account managers. Figure 14 shows part of an impact matrix with the axes as stakeholders across the top and type of impact down the side.
In the above impact matrix, we have just used ticks to signify the impacts described above. You may want to grade the level of impact as low, medium or high by using numbers or traffic light colour-coding in the matrix.
The two following tables give examples of the axes that can be used.
Examples of the type of impact to use in the matrix are:
Examples of the stakeholders to use in the matrix are:
Level of stakeholder support
Once you know the impact, you can begin to consult stakeholders about their views on the change and also begin the process of influencing and persuading them towards a positive and supportive viewpoint (see Chapter 3).
Ultimately, change cannot be implemented without the support of the stakeholders, so you need to consider how to involve them. Their possible roles are:
- Change agent – fully integrated member of the change team responsible for the successful delivery of change activities.
- Advocate – active supporter of the change involved as a consequence of their specialist knowledge. May have a specific role in quality reviewing the activities of the change team, or providing specialist/technical advice to those planning and implementing the change.
- Guide – responsible for keeping themselves fully informed about the requirements for the change, its progress and any issues or risks, and to step in with advice and guidance when they feel they have something useful and relevant to contribute.
- Opponent – opposed to the change and has shown no interest in helping to implement it. Still requires general communications about the change, which they may critique to demonstrate their opposition. Their challenge offers valuable insight into potential risks associated with the change.
When assessing the mix of stakeholders, consider asking the following questions:
Does this change have a direct impact on a process, procedure, system, piece of data or reporting line that you use or are responsible for?
Do you have personal knowledge and understanding of the products and services that are to be changed?
Do you believe that your involvement with this change will increase the likelihood of successful implementation?
Does this change directly contribute to the achievement of your objectives?
Will failure to implement this change successfully impact your ability to carry out your role? o Are you able to identify any advantages to your role in implementing this change?
Do you feel personally motivated to be involved with the successful implementation of this change?
Do you see your involvement in the change as additional or integral to your role?
Are you willing to present this change to others and persuade them to become involved?
The answers will be influenced by the role of the stakeholder in the organisation. For those in managerial positions, commitment and agreement to the change are more important than how they are impacted personally. For those responsible for making changes to the way in which they work, their interest in doing things differently is key.
Not every stakeholder will begin their engagement with the change at the same time. Sociologists suggest that there are a number of different groups in society who adapt to change at different rates:4
- 2.5% are innovators – involved in defining the change or taking the lead in implementing the change once it has been identified.
- 13.5% are early adopters – not as quick to come on board as the Innovators but still keen to experiment with the changed conditions.
- 34% are early majority – find change uncomfortable and will not deliberately seek it out.
- 34% are late majority – will wait until a significant ‘majority’ has made the change before engaging with it.
- 16% are laggards – if forced into the change will opt out of it by leaving their job or, if they have the authority, putting a stop to the change.
There are usually too many stakeholders to be able to plan communications for each of them individually, so you will need to group your stakeholders. These groups can be based on any factor – for example, location, role, job title or level of support for the change.
Figure 16 is an example of a communications plan which plots the detail about the communication for each group against its purpose: leading the stakeholders through awareness of the change; commitment to the change; taking action to make the change a reality; and providing feedback about the change.
Another view of the communications plan is a summary sheet (Figure 17) that shows the type of communication to be received by each group of stakeholders. This can ensure there is a balance of actions and events that will appeal to the widest possible number of stakeholders.
The purpose of the communications plan is to convert people to the change. The plan identifies interventions that will:
- persuade people that the change will be beneficial and is something that they should support;
- keep them informed about what is happening, what progress is being made and how the change is evolving as issues, risks and problems become apparent.
Ideally, the activities in the communications plan will evolve from being mostly persuasive to mostly informative. The reason for this is the ‘conversion rate’ amongst all of those who are impacted by the change.
Wherever possible, use these individuals who are open to change to deliver the communications to their colleagues. Essentially, the activities in the communications plan will transmit enthusiasm, enabling the support for the change to grow.
We got 20–25% of the people affected by the change involved from the beginning. We rely on them to pass on what they have heard to others so that it can spread. This usually gets us invites to other team meetings where we are able to go and talk about the changes.
Communications need to be repeated many times as they are only effective when the person receiving them is in a receptive frame of mind. Many of the contributors to this book emphasised the need for repetition.
I believe in ‘redundant’ communication – in other words repeating and repeating the key messages over and over. I have learnt over the years that however often I have carefully explained our changes, there are always some who did not hear it the first 15 times and it was only on the 16th repeat of the message that they heard it.
Whilst key information needs to be repeated, the tone and content of each communication will be slightly different as the pressure on stakeholders to become involved in the change increases, as shown in Figure 18.
Continual repetition is necessary to capture the attention of all those impacted by change, and the following Figures 19 and 20 show how communications are transmitted.
When an advocate for the change communicates with a stakeholder, the possible results are:
- The stakeholder ignores the message as they are not yet ready to accept that change is taking place.
- The message is considered and generates a negative response and turns them into an opponent of the change.
- The message is considered and generates a positive response and turns them into an advocate of the change.
- The message is considered but does not generate any positive or negative feelings.
For those stakeholders where a positive response is not generated, the advocate must repeat the communication over time until a response is received.
If the communication is ignored, further communication is attempted and continues throughout the change life cycle.
To maintain momentum during the communication of change, track the success by recording the level of support.
The communication plan can contain innovative ways of communicating including the use of social media. Whatever the medium, the communications need to address the following elements:
- Benefits – answers the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’, so talk about the outcomes of the change – the opportunity, what it offers.
- Reasoning – decisions are taken by management, but their reasoning can be shared to demonstrate what has been considered: the change is planned and thought through, the constraints that the change is operating within and the forces that are driving the need for the change.
- Involvement – provide opportunities for people to participate. There will be higher levels of involvement if people are able to select in which way they participate. Providing opportunities to be responsible for an aspect of the change builds ownership and ensures that individuals are doing the change to themselves, not having it done to them.
- Expectations – there needs to be a clear set of KPIs for the future. In the current state, rules (formal and informal) have built up around acceptable behaviour in the office and people need information about the new performance measures so they can identify and create new rules.
There is no substitute for hard work. There needs to be a constant round of consensus building through discussions and meetings. This often means going over old ground and going through the same conversations repeatedly. You have to chip away at it and you have to keep going, even when you think you have said all you have to say. It is frustrating and we will ask ourselves: ‘Why do I have to see them again?’ and ‘Why don’t they get it?’
3 Further explored in Managing Successful Programmes, TSO, 2007.
4 Further explored in Diffusion of Innovations, Everett M. Rogers, 1962.