Preparing for Change

A simple definition of change is “to cause to be different”.  The idea of change management on a personal level has been studied for more than one hundred years. But it is only since the mid- 1980’s that change management has been explored within the context of business applications.

Today’s change management initiatives have become a business discipline, driving bottom-line results through changes in systems and behaviors. Managing change has therefore become a critical skill, both for leadership — and for workers in an organization.

Related: Change Management Online Course

Defining Your Strategy

It is critical to manage change by creating and implementing a strategy that defines an approach consistent with the unique needs of the organization. The strategy serves as the guiding framework, providing direction and shaping decision making throughout the change process.

A simple way to gather data for the strategy is to set up interviews and ask questions regarding the different aspects of the change. Below are some typical questions:

From the answers to the questions, the strategy document is created, serving as a “blueprint” for the initiative. A strategy document should discuss important components of the change. The components are listed below.

  • Description of the proposed change vision, and its goals
  • The reasons(s) why the change is necessary
  • Critical success measures and key performance indicators
  • Project stakeholders and stakeholder groups and their involvement
  • Key messages to communicate
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Target time frame to achieve goals
  • Focus Areas

Building the Team

To effectively implement a team positioned for success, leaders must select members who display a high degree of skill in six key elements:

  1. Commitment
  2. Contribution
  3. Communication
  4. Cooperation
  5. Conflict management
  6. Connection

The team must represent all of the needed functional groups and roles necessary to manage the change initiative. By formalizing the team and providing funding and other resources, it sends a message of accountability and responsibility, and illustrates the investment the organization has made in the change.