Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.


Change management is a means to an end – planning CM

Sometimes as practitioners we ‘fall in love’ with ideas, theory, analysis and plans.  However, at some point, we all must stop the planning and get on with the execution – that is where the pay off is.  Often ‘change management’ fails because it is too academic – practitioners fail to make the theories concrete, actionable and accountable. 

As a rule of thumb, how much planning is required?

Obviously it is perilous and irrational to pull a number out of a hat.  But let’s just say that for a moderately, complex project that affects both a program team and designates where say 10% of the budget is set aside for adoption of the change, marketing of the new initiative, etc – how much of that 10% should be planning vs execution?

  • Should it be 20:80?  Hmm sounds reasonable. 
  • Okay, now if this is a $300K project with $30K (10%) on change management that translates into $6K on preparation and $24K on execution. 
  • At $150/hour that buys 40 hours of preparation and 160 hours (4 weeks) of execution.

Interesting – when we put some numbers to it.  Suddenly we can think about the specific case and consider whether that’s enough or too much.  And more importantly, can drive results by focusing on execution.

Now, please no one write me to point out that it is naive in the extreme to put a quote out there without any context.  We already agreed that this was just an exercise.  If you don’t get the point of establishing a ratio, then you don’t get it.

The focus of our change management activities must always be on producing results.  There are no short cuts.  Organizations that have never implemented change management best practices or who have cultural challenges or dysfunction, or have high risk, dynamic programs must spend considerably more time than the 20% getting the analysis and planning right.  But perhaps we can agree on the merits of setting some targets upfront.  After all change management is only the means to the end, not the end in itself.


2 Comments so far
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A good point that many organisations forget. Too quick to get in to the doing or in many cases they don’t even realise that it is a change initiative in its fullest sense. The better the plan, the better prepared for the inevitable deviations from it.

Comment by Martin Fenwick

Thank you Martin. I took a look at your site and blog – excellent! Best regards. Gail

Comment by Gail Severini




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