Getting Change Management Right

Strategic initiative failure rates remain high but working with the right partner can yield success. As such, executives put tremendous resources into planning and implementing their transformative projects.

However, seasoned executives also know that the success of those projects rests on getting users to adapt to new technologies, new processes, and new ways of working as much as – if not even more so – than any other element of the endeavor.

Unfortunately, successful change remains elusive. The failure rate for all change initiatives has been stuck around 70% for the past two decades and remains there today. 1

Consider figures from Gartner, the tech advisory firm: Its research shows that only 34% of all organizational change initiatives are a clear success, while half are out-and-out failures. 2

Those figures tell only part of the story, though. Here at Strive Consulting, we’ve found that companies without internal Change Management teams generally experience even higher failure rates. Why? Because they have neither the deep knowledge, nor the experience and tools, to enable change.

As a result, these companies often use online tutorials that offer only highlights on the topic, or they rely on overly complex white papers that don’t provide guidance on tailoring a program to the organizations’ own unique needs.

Neither option delivers information on the concrete tools and techniques needed to effectively teach people how to work in new and different ways. Rather, they tend to focus on the psychology – how the end user feels about the changes – and share some generic guiding principles, such as the ‘importance of communication’.

In reality, Change Management is a specialized skill, and it is one that needs to be expertly adapted to each initiative and tailored to every organization to ensure success. Strive’s Change Management framework acknowledges that reality and brings together four critical elements that must be addressed for an organization to successfully navigate transformation.

Those four elements are:

  • Alignment and Engagement
  • Change Impact and Analytics
  • Communication
  • Readiness and Training

Our extensive experience in helping a broad range of clients steer their companies through change has allowed us to hone in on these key areas and build a Change Management framework that leverages each of them to the maximum effect. We’ll focus on five critical tools across three elements of our framework

Let’s look at the first element: Alignment and Engagement. This element ensures that we’re collaborating with the right people in the plan and that their goals and priorities are well understood. With our ‘Story for Change’ we ask five important questions: What is happening, why now, so what, how are we going to achieve this, and now what? Asking these questions and listening to responses from project leaders gives us and, more importantly, the organization a clear, precise understanding on where it wants to be at the end of the transformation. While collaborating with these same leaders, we group and assess different stakeholder cohorts on a 2×2 grid measuring one’s level of influence on success and one’s impact imposed. The Stakeholder Assessment is the backbone to tailoring change, considering that all cohorts are coming from very different starting points and have different roles within the broader future state.

Next, we’re looking at Change Impacts and Analytics. For this, Strive evaluates how someone’s responsibilities will change and by how much. With Change Analysis we document all unique impacts and map against the stakeholder cohorts, identifying whether groups will perceive the impact as positive, negative, or neutral. This lets us understand what users will feel about the changes they’re facing and develop the various engagement, communication, and training activities needed to build understanding, knowledge, and commitment. We also develop metrics that track adoption, so we can confirm success, as well as identify those cohorts who may need additional support.

In tandem, we’re planning necessary Communications. This is all about informing key stakeholders through integrated, targeted, and timely program messaging. It’s also about understanding how communication flows within an organization. We believe there must be a communication cascade strategy within any program undergoing change for it to successfully transform. So, top-level sponsors need to effectively communicate with their direct reports, and in turn those managers need to effectively convey messages to their teams. Moreover, a communication plan compliments this cascade of information for each audience. Communication timed appropriately, focused on the right message, and delivered via the right vehicle helps all parties understand the importance of transformation for the organization as a whole.

On top of all this, we evaluate Readiness and Training. While training is hyper-focused and can be niche, we’ll focus on readiness. Quantitative metrics showing before and after results tell a clear part of the story, but it is one-sided. Qualitative surveying helps leadership understand if, and by how much, do stakeholder cohorts and users understand why the change is taking place, are aware of the impacts to their day-to-day responsibilities, know where they go for resources, and believe the change is overall positive.

Now, none of these four framework elements works in isolation. Rather, we consider them all together. In fact, we factor them into the lifecycle of a broader Change Management approach, creating a timeline from start to go-live that includes markers along the way. This means planning, for example, what milestones should be achieved counting down from 90, 60, 30, 15, 7, and 1 day out.

The payoff for having a structured Change Management workstream is significant, with This alone shows the value of having a solid Change Management strategy in place and the importance of having a partner who can deliver such results.

Looking for sample deliverables? Or maybe a bit more information? Let’s Talk!  

Here at Strive, we take pride in our Management Consulting practice, where we can assist you in your initial digital product development needs, all the way through to completion. Our subject matter experts’ team up with you to understand your core business needs, while taking a deeper dive into your company’s growth strategy.

Moving from ‘Project-based’ to ‘Product-based’

“We’re spending a lot of time, money, and resources in these meetings” … “I don’t feel like this project is going anywhere” … “I can’t even remember why we’re doing this” … Have you ever asked yourself this question while on your 7th conference call of the day? We see companies invest in making the transformation to the interactive approach to project management and software development, Agile, but to no surprise still have the same angst as they did in their previous way of delivering solutions.

According to a recent Gartner study, 55% of organizations say they are moving from traditional project delivery to product-centric 1. Why are companies choosing to make this shift? By moving to a product-centric delivery model, companies are realizing quicker business outcomes, improved customer experiences, reduced organizational friction, and increased trust between impacted stakeholders.

In short: companies are delivering products that their customers love, all while being more efficient, more collaborative, and realizing short and long-term value along the way. The good news is that most companies already have the people and tools in place, and with a few adjustments to their operating models, can steer the ship toward a product-centric delivery model. To help identify where your company is on the spectrum between project- and product-, we will walk through the common challenges and pain points of a traditional project-focused delivery model, describe the benefits and ROI that can be achieved from shifting to a product-centric delivery model, and provide a foundational framework for how to begin this organizational shift.

Pain points of a ‘Project-based’ Operating Model 

One of the most prevalent pitfalls of the traditional operating model is the disjointed application of both Waterfall and Agile delivery methodologies. The result of this half-measured application and its subsequent pain points is a lack of collaboration across business and IT, and the perception of technology projects being too expensive or taking too long.

The graphic below describes these pain points, and how they can serve as a barrier to an efficient operating model.

Moving from a 'Project-based' to 'Product-based' Model

Benefits of a ‘Product-based’ Operating Model

By introducing a product-centric means of operating, companies can achieve a more collaborative culture, accelerate through ideas, and unlock speed-to-value by solving underlying organizational challenges and driving toward business results, faster.

The graphic below describes the benefits of an efficient, product-centric operating model:

Moving from a 'Project-based' to 'Product-based' Model

Accelerate ROI

There is an unspoken assumption that the development of products and features will result in added value to both your company and your customers. As such, companies seek to adopt Agile practices in order to build products and features faster, but this only adds more holes to a sinking ship; holes that are traced by committed product teams and punched by the sunk-cost fallacy attached to a feature that customers will not end up using.

The reality is that without proper end-user validation, product ideas and features are often hit-or-miss, and will not provide the ROI-driving dollars that many hope for when building a product roadmap. While there is incremental value in adopting an Agile methodology only, pairing Agile with a Product-Centric framework will increase overall ROI and decrease the time it takes to get there

Moving from a 'Project-based' to 'Product-based' Model

‘Product-based’ Framework

There are four fundamental areas that should be focused on when evaluating how to bring a Product-Centric operating model to your company. These areas are explained below:

Moving from a 'Project-based' to 'Product-based' Model

The foundation of these four components provides a different approach for how an idea drives shared value across a company and its customers. By focusing on building a strong foundation based on these components, companies can begin to introduce a new approach to delivering products to customers, shortening the time-to-market and time-to-value.

Looking for more information? Let’s Talk!  

Here at Strive, we take pride in our Management Consulting practice, where we can assist you in your initial digital product development needs, all the way through to completion. Our subject matter experts’ team up with you to understand your core business needs, while taking a deeper dive into your company’s growth strategy.