THE SECRET TO LASTING CHANGE: AVOID THESE 4 MISTAKES TO LOCK IN THE RESULTS OF YOUR PROGRAMME DELIVERY
To successfully deliver a change programme can take months of hard work. But once it’s done, how do you make sure that change sticks? In this article we look at 4 common mistakes and consider not just how to deliver the programme – but how to make sure you lock in the results.
MISTAKE 1: NO CLEAR STRATEGY FROM THE OUTSET
When it comes to successful change, there are 3 key areas to consider: creating the right climate, enabling the change and implementing and embedding it. The thing that underpins them is a clear strategy to shape and control it all.
Without defining your strategy, you could find the process you’ve engaged in unravelling pretty quickly. Why? Because you might hit unexpected changes and in turn, those can lead to initial goals not being realised. This is especially true in technical projects where individuals can focus so much on the technical aspects that they forget there’s an overarching strategy.
The best way to lock in lasting change is to keep a responsive, flexible mindset throughout the process so that you can adapt in the face of something you don’t expect.
For a large-scale programme to be effective, it needs to match the company’s goals, have clear benefits, be supported by leaders and have everyone working together. A clear strategy brings everyone back to the ultimate goal and business outcomes, whether that’s reducing costs or unlocking value in the business overall.
Set out your strategy from the start – and stick with it all the way.
MISTAKE 2: YOU HAVEN’T IDENTIFIED SPONSORS
Active sponsors are invaluable as a conduit to build the commitment to change and keep everyone aligned. They can be involved throughout the process to understand the outcomes and be part of the decision-making. A great sponsor is able to articulate problems clearly, present them for discussion and have the power to support the project.
Sponsors could be end users or people who believe strongly in the programme’s benefits and are ready to understand and address both the pleasure and pain of challenges and operational changes. They’ll be able to keep the initial strategy alive by reviewing and adapting it to align with evolving circumstances and can be measured or rewarded in a way that can have a huge effect on the success of the program.
Similarly, it’s important to have effective change leads in organisations, especially in operational spaces. Some change leads might not be fully engaged with the day-to-day activities of teams, potentially hindering the understanding of multiple change impacts. Get them actively involved, to live and breathe the business, to comprehend the wider impacts and constraints.
This kind of understanding and ability to adapt to both small and large changes is crucial for successful change management.
MISTAKE 3:YOU’VE OVERLOOKED YOUR OPERATING MODEL
In any programme, it’s not enough just to change something; you need to make sure that everyone understands and agrees on how the company should work in the future. That’s why understanding your operating model is crucial.
A common issue with many programmes is that they focus on initial goals but not the end result, particularly around how change might impact people and processes. It’s important to consider your operating model and think about how people might need to adapt and how their roles might need to change.
For example, if you’re introducing new technology to make a job more efficient, you might meet resistance if people feel that the technology has come to replace, rather than help, them.
As AI begins to increasingly automate jobs, it’s changing the way we work. Successful companies will be those who can clearly communicate what new ways of working will look like, can highlight higher-value roles and avoid a race to the bottom. This takes comprehensive planning to involve all stakeholders from the start so that technological change and the way that people feel can work hand in hand.
Understanding and changing how a company is set up and how people’s jobs are organised brings huge value. If you don’t properly understand all the roles and responsibilities, you can end up with huge confusion and extra costs.
MISTAKE 4: YOU’RE MISSING THE BIGGER PICTURE
One misnomer about change programmes is that they’ve got to be massive. But in fact, it’s often the smaller projects that have been lying around for ages that can trip organisations up, especially if there are several happening simultaneously.
If there are multiple programmes happening at the same time, take people on the journey and help them understand where they might be impacted. Take a holistic overview, rather than treating projects in isolation because teams can easily become overwhelmed when there’s just too much change.
The best way forward is to strike the balance between being project-focused and business-focused with a business owner who’s embedded in the program. If they’re too isolated on the operational side, awareness of day-to-day business activities diminishes. On the other hand, being overly focused on the business side might result in a lack of input to the programme.
Change management works best when it’s holistic, interconnected and can be successfully integrated into workflow.
So, if you want to achieve change that lasts after a programme delivery, make sure that you’ve got a clear strategy and you’re seeing the big picture. Engage with your operating model and roles and responsibilities and find the right sponsors to make sure everything runs smoothly.
After all, completing the program is just the beginning. Fundamental change and improvement for the long term is the really the reason you began in the first place.