Change isn’t easy. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you understand that changing your own behavior is complicated. There are health benefits for most who can drop a few pounds or more, but for some, losing weight can be the difference between a long life and a life cut short with conditions like heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. Despite the known benefits of losing weight, past patterns of behavior can be difficult to overcome. For personal change, feedback and guidance is critical to push past a plateau and make progress. Today, to help increase our chances of improvement, we have devices like Fitbits and Garmins along with exercise and health apps to measure, monitor and guide our progress.
Organizational change is no different. Organizations are collectives of like-minded individuals – aligned to a common set of goals and objectives. To change an organization’s behavior, we must first work to change the behavior of individuals within the organization. To help improve our chances of implementing organizational change, we have reporting and analytics, which, when combined with an effective project governance structure, can empower needed change. Let’s take a look at a few elements that help drive effective and ongoing change.
Elements of Effective Change
Leadership: Executive sponsorship is required for any substantive change. One or two executives are needed to guide the process and influence other executives, educate broadly why the change has been undertaken and address silos within the organization when resistance is encountered.
Champions for Change: Identify informal leaders, who are trusted influencers within your organization, to cultivate as leaders of change. Spend time with them to ensure they understand why the change is needed and the behavior needed to effect change. As champions for change, these individuals can make a significant impact by demonstrating the desired behavior change to the rest of the organization. Pilot projects with these informal leaders’ participation can be an effective way to incrementally show how change can occur.
An Empowered Team: Choose team leaders who won’t be uncomfortable uncovering the organization’s challenges. Conflict will likely arise from the findings of any deep analysis. Having the support of the Executive sponsors — even in the face of bad news — is important to ensure the right problems are uncovered and ultimately addressed.
Metric-Driven Objectives: Monitor progress to goals. It is critical to the success of a project to ensure the change is having the desired effect. Quantifiable, measurable goals provide objectivity.
Trusted Data and Analytics: Leverage technology to support change. To support metric-driven objectives, retrospective analytics – such as traditional business intelligence – are better than nothing. However, predictive and prescriptive analytics are even better. Analytics that also include AI and machine learning are best. And, regardless of what type(s) of analytics you have to support the governance of change, the data MUST be trusted. If the data is not trusted, those asked to change will simply dispute the validity of the data and no change will occur.
Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, change rarely happens all at once. No one gets up off the couch and runs a marathon. But with the right leadership, both formally and informally, empowered agents of change and support through trusted data and analytics, we can significantly change the operational performance of an organization.