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Get Involved for Change Processes to Succeed

Since the average success rate is only 41%, then 59% are failing in some way. How are you doing with your Change Projects? If you are part of the majority, then you may need to improve your performance. Yet, when researching the highly successful change masters of the business world, their success rate was a stunning 80%. Sounds like a high return on investment for these people. Are they your competitors? If you want to move into the ranks of successful change masters and win more often, then the first step is simple.

You must gain insight and true awareness of reality and then launch an action plan.
To make this happen, you need to start here: become aware of early resistance to change. For that matter, any issues that pop up during the beginning phases of a change project need clear and decisive action plans and steps. Change projects usually require simultaneous changes in your people’s mindsets, attitudes, and culture. Such changes do not happen on there own, they need to be aggressively dealt with by the leaders of your organization. There are four practical steps to improving success rates for your change projects. Here are the four steps…
1. Link to History – Provide your change leaders with access to historical data, survey data, cultural assessments and history lessons from long time staff members. Then actively engage the people involved in the change process and older projects. Learn from both good and bad experiences, what worked and didn’t work and discuss the connections to the current change process. Open dialogue without any judgment or justification efforts will allow everyone to share their fears and concerns. Now you guide the dynamics of future discussions.

2. Examine the Big Picture – Examine the project’s scope, the likely impact of the project and the expected outcomes carefully. Assess the dimensions of the change – people, culture, and organizational impact. A full review of your current processes and technology levels is necessary to evaluate what needs attention for success. Be realistic in determining the necessary change and then communicate to everyone in the organization. This also fits with the need for a “big picture” for getting buy-in and commitment to the project.

3. Adjust Plans for Unexpected – Understanding the complexities related to your change projects, you build a contingency plan to address potential issues or unexpected obstacles. Communicate the base plan and ask for additional ideas, methods or issues of potential conflict. Ask people for possible solutions and listen to their answer, as there are usually gold and silver in their responses. The key – be prepared to adapt your plan as frequently as needed to deal with the unexpected issues.

4. Long Term View and Focus – Contrary to most organizational focus, long-term views lead to greater success than short term views. When looking at change projects you need to be prepared to continue the execution of action plans well past the project deadlines if you want real value from the project. Remember the “soft skill side of organizations” – mindsets, culture, beliefs and attitudes – are more difficult to change, especially in the short term. Permanent change in these areas takes time, patience, consistency and continuous actions to be effective – they cannot be pushed. Then, be prepared to go deeper into the organization using your change activities and it will stick and build true value.
In conclusion, for your change projects to be successful, it requires a complete understanding of the coming challenges and complexities discussions. After gaining agreement for the future vision of the change project, creation of specific action steps are needed to ensure success. A word of caution here – any lack of effort for early detection of issues leads to higher risks of failure, which is a proven productivity drain on organizations.

One last point of thought: beware of underestimating the complexity of behavioral and cultural changes necessary for successful change projects. Take time to think though the possible issues that could derail your project efforts. Advance planning, including contingency plans, will improve your success rates substantively. Remember, leadership is responsible for structuring and supporting the culture of an organization.

--Voss Graham

Comments or questions? How are you doing with your Change Projects? Share what you've learned from any successes or failures.

Posted: 3/21/2012 10:00:00 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: advice, business, chamber, change, council, memphis, project, questions, small, strategy, success

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Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

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