Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

Fatal assumptions and setting projects up for success

“If we always do what we always did, we’ll always get what we always got” – True and so what? 

Well, often (usually) we need to move ourselves and our people out of comfortable situations in order to achieve different (hopefully better) results.  And as ‘easy’ as this looks when we put together analysis and business cases – then convince ourselves even more as we buy into the initiative vision statement – we often have a nagging doubt that implementation and benefits realization are rarely that ‘easy’. 

What are the, often fatal, assumptions that could free us – could liberate our approach to do things differently?  That we ignore at our own peril?

What questions might prompt us to look at an initiative differently and therefore modify our approach:

  1. How ‘big’ is this really?  Is it critical to the organization’s future? 
  2. As a leadership team, do we all ‘get’ that? Really? Can we get the cross functional commitment required to initiate and sustain this project?  i.e. will peers in the leadership team make the compromises and sacrifices required to make this project successful? Today and everyday of the project implementation and further into anchoring and realization?
  3. Is it complex for our middle management? 
  4. Is it complex or challenging for our change targets? (are our change targets really dispensable if they don’t ‘get’ it?) How many people need to change how they think about their ‘jobs’ and how they do what they do on a daily basis? (how many? how much change?)
  5. What if we change a bit? How much is enough?  If we install new systems, will that do?  Is the work on the new systems discretionary?   How much is really measureable?  What happens when we are not ‘looking’?
  6. Have we successfully implemented similar magnitude of change before?  Who worked on that anyway? Where are they?  Did we get help? Should we survey experts to find out what has advanced in the field of strategic execution (ok, this question is self serving – but it’s true that this discipline is advancing)
  7. How much concurrent change will the organization be facing? Can we accommodate it all? 

This post will be a work in progress – and I will update it as comments come in. 

What assumptions do you challenge when you are asked to Sponsor or support a major transformation?

There are reasonable ways to approach all of these issues and concerns – ways to ‘box’ them, measure them, manage them. 

The Art and Science of Change Management is advancing every day.  Doubt that?  Have a read of Daryl Conners’ blog here.

1 Comment so far
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Other questions worth considering include:
Do our people already feel they have too much to do?
Do they trust the leaders?
Do we have a history of failure with this type of initiative?

(I have more if you want them…)


Comment by Bob Dodge

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