PAC Conseil

Five questions to ask before starting a change project

If you are thinking about launching a change initiative in your organisation you are probably wondering where to start?
At this point, you may not guarantee the success of your project, but as Benjamin Franklin once said:

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

Here are five essential questions that you should ask yourself before you begin

Question #1 – What needs to be changed?

Objective
This question is about pinpointing the real problem you are trying to solve and identifying its potential solutions.
Establishing a simple and clear vision of the desired state, aligned with your company’s overall strategy, will help you focus on what is the most important challenge to address.

Risk
If you do not clearly specify the scope of your change you run the risk of missing your objectives or of wasting your time, resources and energy on the wrong things.

Our tip
Ask yourself what the change should entail.
Which aspect(s) of your organisation should be changed and which one(s) should not (processes, systems or tools, ways of working, corporate culture, etc.).

Question #2 – Why should it be changed?

Objective
The answer to this question will help you clarify the purpose of the change that you want to make.
This is the opportunity to detail the benefits that you expect from the change: increase revenue, reduce cost, increase productivity, unleash employees’ talents, increase employee engagement, etc.

Risk
When you communicate about the change, you will need to be very specific about the goals that you are pursuing, why there is no alternative and why it is the best way to reach them.
This is absolutely crucial if you want the impacted groups to embark on the journey with you.

Our tip
Another way to formulate this question is: what will happen if we do not change? Is status quo an option?
You need to create a sense of urgency and demonstrate that without the change your company will face major difficulties.

Question #3 – When should we change?

Objective
This question is here to help you plan the change and avoid biting off more than you can chew.
Some important and urgent changes may require immediate attention. Other changes may be less important or less urgent and could be implemented in the longer term.

Risk
Your resources are limited and when it comes to team members, they may well be shared with other parts of the organisation.
Trying to do too much at once could turn out to be detrimental to your change project by at best slowing down the speed of implementation and at worst disengaging your employees.

Our tip
Aim to create an organisation that is built for routine and proactive change.
It is best to keep in mind that small incremental changes are usually a more efficient way to change than irregular and disruptive change.

Question #4 – Who will lead the change?

Objective
One success factor in change initiatives is to prepare and assemble the change team well ahead of the start date.
To do this you will want to understand who will be responsible for driving the change, who will be in charge of its delivery and who will communicate about it.

Risk
Choosing the right people with the right skills to lead the change is key, but it is not sufficient in itself. Without a strong team of experts around them, change leaders cannot succeed.
In a traditional organisation, relying solely on managers to implement change would most likely not lead to the expected results.

Our tip
Ask yourself if you think that you have the right competencies to implement the change.
If yes, who are the experts in your organisation and are they available?
If not, do you need to onboard people with the required skills temporarily or permanently?

Question #5 – How should we deliver the change?

Objective
Like any other project, change initiatives require a minimum of structure and guidelines to be successful.
You cannot afford improvisation to be the norm. Spending some time on administrative tasks can reveal to be more beneficial than you might think.

Risk
The main risk is that the project team is perceived as disorganised and unprepared. The effect on your employees can be disastrous.
A structured approach means the change team can focus on what needs to be done and knows when and how to involve the various stakeholders, making the whole process flow more naturally.

Our tip
Think about your change initiative as a project on its own and try to formalise the following (non-exhaustive) list to a level that is comfortable for your organisation: scope, budget, timeline, reporting, decision making, escalation process, and communications.

Conclusion

What needs to be changed?
Make sure that you understand what your real problem is so you can find the best way to solve it

Why should you change?
Gather enough facts and information so there is no room for questioning the absolute necessity of the change you are proposing

When should you change?
Perform a review of your portfolio of change initiatives and assess which ones to do first based on your capacity and company priorities

Who should lead the change?
Do not underestimate the challenges associated with the human aspect of driving change. It requires dedicated and trained, experienced professionals

How should the change be delivered?
Take some time to reflect on the best way to implement the change. Budgeting, scoping, planning and scheduling are some of the best practices you should consider

70% of transformation programmes fail !
You can beat the odds with the right approach and the right team !

Do not hesitate to contact our teams to discuss this!

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