Learning from the past, from others, from both successes and failures is critical for future success. Rather than just rely on case studies and success stories, we draw upon our database of change management data to provide keen insights to help improve your change management capability and implement change that “sticks”.
Over the last 10 years we have captured over 400,000 data points about change projects through our online tools. This data provides information and insights into understanding what really makes change management initiatives successful.
#1 Real commitment to change appears hard to achieve
Commitment comes about when those people impacted by the change are truly working in a new way, whether through a new process, new system or new behaviours. Even higher commitment comes when people feel ownership of the change.
When we measure true success in terms of peoples’ commitment to change, our data shows that while there is a 54% chance of acceptance there is only a 1 in 4 chance of achieving commitment.
Acceptance brings about compliance; people tend to only do the bare minimum to ‘tick the boxes’ and have no vested interest to ensure the changes truly take hold.
While this may seem like a disheartening statistic, we are assuming that the same change management practices are used in the present as they have in the past.
The next 4 of our findings identify some of the most important areas that change projects can focus on to shift people from acceptance to commitment and sustain the change.
#2 Risks can be proactively managed to increase commitment
Identifying, and proactively managing, people risks throughout the change implementation removes the barriers that your workforce face to committing to the change.
Learning what went wrong in the past, in your organizational environment, will help you identify the top risks to your change project. Our data shows that early planning to undertake actions to address these problem areas can improve commitment levels significantly.
We’ve identified the top 5 risks that other change initiatives have faced in the past. You may find your risks are the same, or not. Every change implementation is slightly different and it is important to make sure you take the time to truly understand the risks you face so you can address appropriately.
#3 Regular tracking against the project lifecycle stages shows how commitment levels shift
While this may seem like an obvious statement, what is interesting is how they shift.
When comparing to the baseline set from the Initiative Legacy Assessment (see figure 1 above) we found that while resistance levels remain at about the same levels through the lifecycle, acceptance levels peak early on and then reduce as people move from acceptance through to commitment.
This tells us that it is important to maintain your change management actions throughout the project. Regular tracking provides you with feedback on the effectiveness of your change management strategy and will help you identify if you need to take corrective actions.
#4 Converting new risks into enablers can increase commitment
It only takes a small drop in risk to move people from acceptance to commitment. While the levels of resistance may not change, our data shows that a small decrease in risk levels can bring a substantial shift towards commitment.
For example, we found that local management support of the change is very important. Just a small reduction in this risk makes a big difference to commitment levels.
When there is low local management support the barrier to commitment is very high. If you are able to turn that around and gain early buy-in from your local managers, this visible support at the local level now becomes an enabler for your change initiative and, in turn, increases the likelihood of commitment from those teams.
#5 Commitment to change remains difficult to sustain
Sustaining commitment through to post implementation is hard to achieve. Our data shows that 6 to 9 months after implementation commitment levels more than halved.
What was the bright new shiny toy no longer has the focus. New initiatives come in and take the energy and priority, subject-matter experts have moved on, support is scaled back and kinks in the process or bugs in the system take longer to fix. There are a range of reasons that can explain the fall in commitment.
If your business case is using a payback period of more than 6 months, then it is important to understand how this shift in commitment levels will impact your benefit case. For change that sticks then an ongoing focus on commitment and risk levels, and undertaking actions to correct, will be needed by the business-as-usual team. Consider this in your hand-over plans.
100% commitment to your change initiative will never be achieved, but through a structured approach to identifying and tracking commitment levels and risks you can increase the success of your change management projects, and achieve the business benefits you are aiming for.
If data is key for your organization, you may be interested in using a change management tool with diagnostic tools and powerful reporting capabilities to ensure you can get the right change data - as and when you need it.
You can read more about each of these insights in part 1 of the Power of Data. Our second release in the Power of Data series looks in more detail about what data tells us in terms of building effective change leadership.
Put data at the heart of your change implementation approach
If data is key for your organization, you may be interested in using a change management tool to track your change projects in real time with the right data.
Roadmap Pro is our transformation toolkit with 9 diagnostic tools and powerful reporting capabilities to ensure you can get the right change data - as and when you need it.