PMAC 2012: The only constant is change

Tips to ensure change is managed as smoothly as possible

June 8, 2012
by Michael Power

MONCTON: Business conditions change rapidly these days and organizations are impacted in ways they may not even realize, said Shawn Casemore, president of Casemore and Co. But proper planning and execution can lead to a smoother transition.

Casemore pointed out research from 1996 that said about 70 percent of change initiatives fail. In 2008, about 3,200 executives were surveyed worldwide to look at how successful change had been in their organizations. The results were roughly the same, he told the audience.

“In that period of time there hasn’t been much success, at least in change initiatives,” Casemore said. He pointed to eight main reasons why change initiatives fail:

  • Focusing on vision with little consideration for the steps required to deliver it;
  • Attempting to compress or reduce duration of change cycle;
  • Stakeholders are not convinced of the need;
  • Insufficient time is spent on developing buy in;
  • Communication is insufficient/ineffective;
  • Actions to address concerns are non-existent or insufficient;
  • Potential impact of change isn’t benchmarked or understood; and
  • The change is seen as one-time event rather than continuous.

Many people believe change will progress smoothly from the current state to the desired state, Casemore said. But usually, there are challenges, pushback and factors that may cause the process to dip below an organization’s current state before it gets to where it wants to be. Casemore also offered several steps in an effective change management cycle, including:

  • Establish a plan: organizations should have achievable steps in place that lead to accountability;
  • Engage stakeholders: often, change is done behind closed doors, but you want people engaged stakeholders at beginning. organizations should seek negative feedback right away because it’s coming eventually anyway;
  • Have someone lead the charge: change sponsors or champions are often senior employees. But change is often driven from middle of an organization this area understands an organization from top to bottom;
  • Communicate: ensure stakeholders are aware of both the good and bad;
  • Manage milestones: pause frequently to see if you’re heading in right direction and whether you need to change course.