Change Management to Value

In order to achieve value from project or programme delivery, it is vital that people buy in to the change journey and are ready to embrace the new capability quickly. To do that we need to ensure that people affected by the project or programme are knowledgeable about what the change entails, their role in the success of the change, how it links to the strategy or the organisations and have the skills and attitudes required to enact the change.


Enter the change manager

This is where a change manager can be of great assistance. While the Project manager is focussing on delivering the capability, managing the budget, time, cost and quality, resources and planning for benefit deliver – the change manager can support him or her on the user side to managing the people side of the change to ensure the people are able to bring forth the outcomes of the new capability leading to the benefits being realised.

I am seeing now in my work around the Asia Pacific many C-level leaders acknowledging that their organisations need to plan with the end in mind. We are in a time of transformation in our societies and world economies so therefore the value of investing is change is actually perceived to be higher. We are now after 40 years of so of having a defined project management methodology, very aware of the risk in investing in change. However the challenge now is to bring the people, our staff and consumers along for the journey. The faster we win their hearts and minds through convincing them that there is a good reason to move to a new state, the better it is for our companies bottom line.


The reason to consider change

I worked with a large multi-national organisation recently in relation to embedding a benefits and change management framework within their organisation. They had observed that they were very good at deploying projects, but they never achieved the results or value they were looking for. The main reason why is that the people who were to embed the new systems, tools, products and processes had not been involved in the process, received the general training but were not compelled enough to make the switch across. Many were very comfortable with business as usual. This organisation did not have the change agility that their global competitors had which saw their market share begin to suffer. Leaders in this organisation had historically told their staff what to do or leave – ‘if you are not on the bus – get off it’ one CEO was heard to say at a staff forum. This traditional model saw turnover of their talent pool and people reverting back to former models. Thus the benefits were not achieved.


Building buy in

To get buy in from staff, the research I have been conducting shows that we need to articulate the benefits of doing something new, that are quantified, analysed and provide a compelling reason for why we will launch a new project. We need to involve staff and support them in the take up through more than a bit of communications and just in time training. We need to win their hearts and minds to increase their desire to know more, learn more and be more – a resilient and forward thinking mindset.

How can we get people doing things differently when the environment is changing so rapidly? I see the people side of change usually covering those elements that assist in the psychological and behavioural change required to use the capability delivered by the project. It is way more than training. It typically includes planned processes that cover communication, stakeholder engagement, learning and organisational development, readiness assessments and impact analysis. It is about moving from installation to implementation and embedding.


An Example of Application

A project that introduces a new automated production process to replace a old manual process, the outcomes relates to time and efficiency savings, less rework, less loss of stock, leading to a staff reduction, decreasing rent from freeing factory floor space to name a few, ultimately leading to a financial saving benefit that can be reinvested in growing the company further. The benefit will only be realised as people start to stop their manual process and move across to the new automated process – so therefore people have to change their behaviour. Given some jobs are on the line there may be resistance from staff here so therefore to minimise the chance of a boycott of the new system a change manager can work with the staff to be impacted to:

  • trouble shoot concerns
  • encourage their involvement in solutioning
  • build a network of change champions or advocates
  • generate and deploy regular communication
  • build employee resilience and emotional intelligence
  • allay fears where possible through employee support mechanisms
  • train them in the new system, and
  • coach team leaders to be visible and be key champions for the change (especially the why behind the what).

The change manager works with the project manager, they start at the same time (though the change manager may be part time initially) and work together to ensure the project plan is robust and the specific change and transition elements are in line with broader project activities.


In conclusion

The times of uncertainty over the last few years have also seen concepts of organisational change management grow in value and groups like the Change Management Institute increase the knowledge through the publication of the Change Management Body of Knowledge. Organisations are becoming more benefits and change focussed in these more commercially challenging times. In times where the value of investing in change has been increased due to risk, companies need to justify more than ever before why one project is more important than an another before they deploy. It is not just the financial cost of the project that is being assessed, but what return we get for the investment. Return on Investment will only come if staff are resilient, change agile and ready to embrace the change. Involving people is the key so that ownership is build throughout the project process and the products produced within a project and that those products are fit for purpose. A change manager is a key resource to make this possible and an asset to any leader serious about bringing results to their company.


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