- The key to an organizational change is to plan for and manage the change and the associated transition effectively. This entails developing the change management plan that addresses the human side of change. Depending on the size and impact of the change initiative, the change management plan can be informal or formal document.
Assess Willingness, Readiness and Ability to Change:
The first step to developing a change management plan is to assess the organization’s willingness, readiness and ability to change. This assessment entails defining who the players or stakeholders involved in the change will be, their roles and how they will interact with each other.
Sponsor: The sponsor can be an individual or group that has the willingness and power, in terms of authority and making resources available, to support the project. A major portion of the organization’s ability and willingness to support the change rests with the sponsor’s commitment to the project and the associated change that will impact the organization.
Change Agents: The change agents are the project manager and the project team however other outside people may be involved as well. Change agents report directly to the sponsor and must be able to diagnose problems, plan to deal with these issues and challenges effectively.
Targets: The target is the individual or group that must change. Although the project sponsors and change agents play important roles in supporting and carrying out the change effort, the dynamics associated with the targets become more critical. The willingness, ability and readiness to change also rests largely with change targets and may require – (1) clarifying the real impacts of the change, (2) understanding the breadth of change, (3) defining what’s over and what’s not, and (4) determining whether the rules for success have changed.
Develop or Adopt a Strategy for Change:
Once the organization’s capability to change is assessed, the next step involves, developing or adopting a strategy for change.
- Rational-Empirical Approach: The rational-empirical approach to change management is based on the idea that people follow predictable patterns of behaviour and that people will follow their own self-interests. It is important that the individuals affected by the change be provided with consistent and timely information. The change management plan based on this strategy should provide each individual with the purpose, a picture, and a part to play. Purpose is the reason for the change. A picture provides a vision or a picture in the individual's mind as to how the organization will look or operate like in the future. A part to play can be very effective in helping the individual become involved in the proposed change.
- Normative-Re-education Approach: The normative-re-education approach takes the basic view that people are social beings and that human behaviour can be changed by changing the social norms of a group. Instead of trying to change an individual, one must focus on the core values, beliefs, and established relationships that make up the culture of the group. This approach can be very difficult and time-consuming because the change agents and sponsor must study the existing values and beliefs of a group. Change becomes more effective when each person adopts the beliefs and values of the group.
- Power-Coercive Approach: The power-coercive approach to change management attempts to gain compliance from the change targets through the exercise of power, authority, rewards, or threat of punishment for non-conformance. People may comply but an approach based solely on rewards or punishment may have only short-term effect. There are, however, situations where the power-coercive approach is useful and effective. The objective is to change the behaviours of the targets so that their new behaviour supports the change effort.
- Environmental-Adaptive Approach: The premise of the environmental-adaptive approach is that although people avoid disruption and loss, they can still adapt to change. Following this approach, the change agent attempts to make the change permanent by abolishing the old ways and instituting the new structure as soon as possible. Although this approach may be effective in certain situations, it is still important that the targets of change assimilate the change as quickly as possible in order to adapt to the change as soon as possible.
Implement the Change Management Plan and Track Progress: Once the players and the strategy for the change management plan have been defined, the next step entails implementing the change management plan and tracking its progress. Although tracking progress should be integrated into the overall project plan and monitored using the various project tools, such as the Gantt chart, PERT chart, and so forth, introduced in an earlier chapter, milestones and other significant events should be identified and used to gauge how well the organization is adapting to the change. In addition, one of the most critical issues for ensuring that the change takes place as planned is the establishment of effective lines of communication. The communication media can be important, especially when delivering certain types of news. For example, a richer media, such as face-to-face communication, is generally preferable when delivering important or bad news. Open channels of communication should be both ways. The project team and sponsor must communicate effectively with the various groups within the organization affected by the change, and these groups, in turn, must be able to communicate effectively with the project team and sponsor.
Evaluate Experience and Develop Lessons Learned: As the project team carries out the change management plan, they will, no doubt, learn from their experiences. These experiences should be documented and made available to other team members and other projects so that experiences can be shared and best practices can be identified. At the end of the project, it is important that the overall success of the change management plan be evaluated. This evaluation may help determine the effectiveness of the different players or a particular change management strategy.