An important first step before embarking on an organizational transformation project is to assess the nature of the change.
This diagnostic exercise is vital in providing the information required to determine the appropriate level of resourcing (time, budget, staff) to help ensure project success.
Given the sobering reality that change research consistently finds that the failure rate of large-scale transformation hovers around 70%, there is a compelling case to be made to carefully assess the level and scale of risk in change before the project rolls out of the gate.
The Prosci® methodology offers a simple, useful model to diagnose the risk of projects using their change characteristics assessment.
The assessment includes two primary axes of analysis:
- Overall change characteristics
This dimension of analysis includes:
- The scope of change, in terms of numbers of employees, departments and/or functions affected. It can be useful to think in terms of the total percentage of the organization that will be impacted by a change.
- The timeframe for the change, and its impact on business cycles.
- The types of change involved (process, system, role, organization, merger etc.).
- Organizational attributes
This analysis is focused on rating the relative change readiness and change resistance of the organization. This becomes a key overlay to the assessment of the change characteristics. Understanding the degree of change readiness or resistance of the organization includes assessing:
- Past track record of changes (Prosci’s annual benchmarking study reveals that this is now trending as the top influencing factor in an organization’s receptivity to change – most often showing up as a key contributor to eroding trust in future changes).
- Organizational capacity for change.
- Leadership styles and power distribution.
Various inputs can serve to feed the risk analysis matrix, including:
- Project management indicators (e.g. budget, scope, schedule)
- Key informant interviews
- Focus groups
- Site visits
- Stakeholder analysis
Consider conducting a change assessment early in your project, particularly as the initiative’s governance structure (such as a Steering Committee or Core Team) is formed. This can be extremely valuable in level-setting expectations, and starting an evidence-based discussion of the resources required to ensure project success.