Preparing for Change in Your Organization: A How-To Guide

Preparing for change is an essential prerequisite for organizational change.

It sounds simple, but many organizations fail to plan. And, as Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Below, we’ll explore how to prepare for organizational change.

Namely, we’ll look at:

  • Three key factors to measure before you even start drawing up a change plan
  • Four steps to follow when you begin your pre-change preparations
  • Why these steps can help your change programs achieve better outcomes

First, we’ll start with key factors that can provide context for your change project … and determine how successful you are.

3 Key Factors to Measure

There are many areas to examine when designing a change management project.

You should analyze:

  • The problem itself
  • Its causes
  • Potential solutions
  • Costs and benefits

To name a few.

However, there are three other big-picture metrics to examine: change readiness, change maturity, and digital maturity.

Let’s look at these in detail.

Change Readiness

Change readiness should be self evident – it refers to how ready an organization is for change.

That is, it refers to:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Agility and ability to change
  • How an organization reacts and adapts
  • Existing mechanisms for change

This bundle of measurements can help you define effective action plans, metrics, and communication strategies.

For an in-depth view of your change readiness, consider implementing a change readiness assessment.

Change Maturity

Change maturity – or enterprise change management – refers to an organization’s formal capacity for change.

This maturity level is measured on a scale, usually with four or five levels.

Prosci, for instance, measures enterprise change management on a 5-point scale.

In descending order of capability, these levels are:

  • Organizational Competency
  • Organizational Standards
  • Multiple Projects
  • Isolated Projects
  • Ad Hoc or Absent

Understanding where your organization sits on this scale is absolutely critical when preparing for change.

Digital Maturity

Historically, change management has not been thought of as a “digital” business function…

However, the same can be said of every other business function.

Today, “digital” plays a crucial role in every area of business, including change management.

Here’s why digital maturity is so critical to effective change preparation:

  • Many, many change programs are driven by digital adoption and digital transformation
  • Digital workflows, tools, and processes are integral to effective business practices
  • An organization’s digital capability impacts its ability to change

As with change maturity, there are a few levels to digital maturity.

And, as with change maturity, how this model is defined depends on who you ask.

Deloitte, for instance, says that there are 7 factors (called “pivots”) that can propel an organization toward digital maturity.

These include:

  • Flexible, secure infrastructure
  • Data mastery
  • Digitally savvy, open talent networks
  • Ecosystem engagement
  • Intelligent workflows
  • Unified customer experience
  • Business model adaptability

Again, a digital maturity model is essential for any organization undergoing change – especially those undergoing digital transformation.

Preparing for Change in 4 Stages

The above measurements will offer context for change preparation.

Below are 4 stages to follow during actual preparation:

Measure

The first step is, of course, actually measuring the factors mentioned above.

Use assessments, tools, surveys, and analytics.

That information can help you determine:

  • Where you sit on the scales
  • Where you need to be in order to change
  • What needs to be done

When you know what needs fixing, you can create goals and move towards them.

Develop

Above, you found weak points and created targets.

During this stage, you will develop those areas.

That is:

  • Learn what needs to be fixed in order to achieve your change goals
  • Create a strategy for fulfilling those prerequisites
  • Implement your action plan

Part of this process may take place before your actual change project.

Or it may take place as part of the change program itself.

Naturally, this will depend on whether or not subsequent changes require those preparations.

Optimize

Preparing for change is a type of change.

Your preparation program may, in fact, take as long or longer than your actual end goal.

For example, adopting a new software application may require new infrastructure. This, in turn, could require infrastructure upgrades, IT training, and much more.

That preparation would essentially become its own change program.

And, like any change program, it should be analyzed, optimized, and improved upon.

As you execute your preparation program:

  • Collect data
  • Identify areas of improvement
  • Adjust and optimize

Continual improvement is, of course, a hallmark of any successful business process.

Innovate

True transformation requires innovation.

It is true that gradual optimization is essential for successful adaptation.

But real breakthroughs occur as a result of innovation.

In your preparations, you will be evolving your organization’s:

  • Change readiness
  • Change maturity
  • Digital maturity

As well as other business capacities.

During this process, continue to identify breakthrough opportunities.

For instance, adopting certain tools – such as a digital adoption platform – could greatly accelerate your digital maturity growth.

Because change preparation projects are organizational change, continue seeking ways to cut costs, increase efficiency, and boost ROI.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.