De-risking Change: The Five Fundamentals

In this post, Chairman and Founder of i-Realise, Chris Collins, shares the five fundamentals he's discovered are key to every change programme:

 

I expect you’ve seen headlines like “just 26 percent of respondents say the transformations they’re most familiar with have been very or completely successful” or “nine out of 10 digital transformation projects fail”. If you haven’t seen the headlines you’ve probably had the experiences to understand what they are talking about. The problem is not redesigning processes, implementing systems or even digitising, the hard part is realising the business benefits from these activities. Business benefits come from the operating model changes the new processes/systems/bots enable – and operating model change is hard as it requires people to change. 

 

This article highlights the five fundamentals I’ve found to be key to every type of change programme. Subsequent articles will provide helpful tips based on i-Realise’s 25 years successfully leading change programmes. Too often we encounter projects where the team spend more time arguing about the approach than the content and outcomes of the change itself. Over the next three months we’ll publish articles that share our methodology - with some case studies to bring it to life. So you can focus on what’s important.

 

1.   Analysis vs. change management

Typically, those individuals who excel in understanding & designing processes are not necessarily effective at generating the enthusiasm necessary to make process change stick. Conversely, change managers tend to be very good at getting people motivated and mobilised to embrace change, but often lack the structured thinking need to design workable solutions.

 

A good methodology combines both and we’ve learned how to help analysts to be better with people and vice versa.

 

2.   Vision vs. detail

When executing process improvement and business change, one of the key challenges is balancing the need for visionary thinking with detailed analysis and design. Communicating a vision requires a knack for presenting the future simply and schematically, whereas implementation will fail without a good understand of detail. The key is knowing when and how to focus on more communication vs detailed precision. 

 

For example, in a recent project we showed the CFO the detailed map of the current process, not so he would go through the detail, but to bring home at first glance the complexity of the current process. When we explained what the process would look like in the future, we used a higher-level cartoon-style diagram that highlighted the key changes and their benefits.

 

3.   Best Practice vs. What is Practical

One of the critical success factors of any change programme is its practicality. The best-case scenario may not be a realistic option for the business given their current state of maturity. Simply put, you cannot leap from nowhere to perfection in one go. Organisations that try to do so can end up failing to achieve any improvement at all. Part of our business readiness methodology is a tool called a maturity assessment which we use to help select the ideas for now from the ones that will be excellent in the future.

 

4.   Language assumptions

Every business person probably has different definitions for

 

  • Business strategy
  • Business model
  • Operating model
  • Business process
  • Design
  • Problem, issue, cause and effect
  • Opportunity, benefit and return

     

Too may projects flounder on something as simple as people using the same words to mean different things. In another article I’ll try and clarify some of the plain English definitions we use at i-Realise – which helps us build understanding through the organisation. A critical part of being business ready for change is clear communication and checking for understanding regularly.

5.   Input, ownership, consensus, leadership & facilitation

The roles people play and how they behave in those roles can be critical to the success of a change project. If people aren’t clear on the role they are supposed to play and what there are responsible for vs. involved in vs. simply consulted, the project can grind to a halt quickly. Our business readiness methodology provides clear role definitions and facilitation tools to achieve constructive behaviours.


Whether your change program is large or small, digital or cultural, the common goal is that it realises the benefits it sets out to achieve. Our structured business readiness approach has been honed to de-risk business change and make sure that happens - whether it’s applied to making sure you have a sound strategy, a practical solution design or a realistic implementation plan.