Friday, 28 October 2016

Change as BAU - yes, but what do we do?

One of the privileges of consulting is that you talk with many talented leaders, each engaging with different opportunities and challenges.  So when common themes emerge you sense that something’s happening to which you need to respond.  This year I’ve heard many more leaders talking about the need for change to be BAU, arguing that a sustained ability to effect change has to be a core organisational competence.
Why’s this coming to the fore now?  I think a number of factors are at play:
o  Operational leaders and groups are having to work with and absorb change initiative after change initiative – and they and their people are tired of being ‘done to’  
o  Partly as a symptom, Programme & Project organisations are faced with an unsustainable volume of requests from Operations for project managers to help effect change
o  Portfolio approaches, while helping, are not yet delivering enough to address the above factors (but that’s for another blog)
Beyond this, perspectives are far from uniform.  Some emphasise BAU change capability because without it benefit realisation leaks away.  For others, it’s more about continuous improvement or reducing the number of expensive corporate programmes.   
The obvious response is to equip operational functions with change capability.  But what does that actually mean?  Does it mean methods and tools; ways of engaging their people more effectively; leaders growing in how they sponsor change; or even changing culture?  And since it’s the case that it could be one or more of these (and others) that's required, how do we know what to major on?  There’s little point, after all, in only providing a method and toolkit if the organisation has an intensely change-resistant culture.
For Afiniti, where I work, this takes us to something we’ve had in our toolkit for quite some time: a Change Readiness Assessment that we’ve typically used in relation to specific change initiatives.  This, by exploring six ‘levers’ that need to be well developed for an organisation to be change ready, highlights exactly how and where action needs to be taken if change capability is to become a BAU core capability.  Crucially, the tool we use does more than just point out (say) the need for development of capability or culture per se.  A rich exploration of each lever, and subsequent careful analysis of answer distribution, outliers, and underlying factors get to the heart of the matter.

You can try a cut down version here – it's not the only solution, but we think it works well.  What do you use?