CQU Project Management education

5 steps to build change management capability

Elissa Farrow
November 29, 2012

I have had a long history of working with organisations to grow their internal capability around project, program, benefits, portfolio and change management. When an organisation realises that they would like to increase the capability of a staff there is a simple five-step process I like to use:

1. Respond to needs

What is the business need for increasing capability of change managers? Who identified it? What is the current capability? Simple tools like a SWOT analysis can be used to identify current capability. More complex tools are available that use qualitative and quantitative techniques to assess capability and assess the gap areas.

Assess what tools and frameworks are in place: do we need to develop/choose a methodology for the organisation to follow or is there one in place that we use as our basis to build capability in using? Any progression into increasing change capability needs to be justified, as there are often costs involved with growing change capability skills and approaches.

2. Have a plan
The size, complexity and culture of an organisation all have an impact on planning how to increase capability. The best option is to ensure that any plan is in alignment with any broader organisational capability plan, for example, an organisation-wide policy on learning, or framework on development.

If no corporate plan exists, see capability development as a project in its own right with benefits articulated, a budget, a schedule of activity and an imbedded quality and stakeholder process to assess step changes as the month’s progress.

3. Design the approach
Based on budget and current state, will you use internal or external expertise to delivery learning and development activities? I find that the key is to ensure all learning regardless of where it comes from needs to suit the organisation it is being applied in and to, rather than a blanket approach.

Where there is a link to certification or an accreditation, ensure that any external training provider uses relevant examples, for instance, broader business change examples with business change managers, IT examples where the bulk of participants are working as IT system-focused change managers.

4. Select and target participants
Change responsibility can lie at a variety of levels: staff managing change planning activities, management who lead staff going through change, senior leadership leading change and staff impacted by change. In your planning and designed approach ensure that you cater for all participant types through a variety of different channels such as online, classroom, briefing, information sheets and packs, train the trainer materials and so on.

5. Continuously improve

The final step is to remember that all change processes, even if they are learning based change processes, require continuous reinforcement. A community of practice can assist to build a network of change practitioners who meet to share practice information regularly, hear best practice examples, and participate in groups like the Change Management Institute.

Elissa Farrow
Elissa Farrow is the founder of About Your Transition, a business specialising in strategy development and implementation, the Director of Ethics of the International Institute of Project Coaching and the Global Secretary for the Change Management Institute. With extensive experience in strategic organisational change, portfolio, program and project management in the public, commercial and not-for-profit sectors, she has assisted organisations in increasing their delivery maturity by implementing enterprise-wide methodology and building the capability of the people who use them.
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