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2018 Tips for a Successful Change Programme

Clare Elliott, 11th January 2018

 It’s generally accepted that two thirds of change programmes – whether digital or not – fail. And they tend to do so for the same broad reasons because – bar different solution methodologies – digital transformation isn’t really any different to other types of change. Here is some advice from WBMS consultant, Richard Napthine.

1. Define the Destination

One reason many programmes flounder is because there’s not enough clarity about the destination or the journey needed to get there. It’s vital to define the outcomes you are seeking to achieve – be it customer or staff satisfaction, greater efficiency or cost reductions – and have a very clear link from that to your strategy and the transformation’s role in achieving it.

2. Demonstrate Real Commitment

The board needs be go on the journey with the organisation. That means commitment at that board level and a full understanding that they will need to navigate all the lumps and bumps that are that are going to happen. They need to talk about it, live it and experience it – and be seen to be doing so. I’m not talking about doing the doing, but I am talking about an ongoing involvement. It’s important that senior people show interest in the change itself, in the journey that actually gets the company to that destination and in the people that are going to have to go on that journey. For a programme to be successful, it needs senior management buy in and commitment to the outcome

3. Understand the full people impact – get the full picture

It’s critically important to understand the impact that the change will have on all those who’ll be touched by it before the initiative is kicked off, not as an afterthought. But far too often it is done too late. This can result in unexpected and unwelcome surprises and negative outcomes because you didn’t lay the right people foundations before the programme went ahead. Each role needs to be looked at in terms of how the proposed transformation could impact it including how individuals will be impacted from a personal point of view.

4. Find an equilibrium

With any programme there’s a danger of getting overwhelmed by the pace and scale of change or seeing impacts on day-to-day productivity or getting bogged down because a programme is over-ambitious. But in my experience, organisations and systems tend to find their own balance. So if things slow down, that may not be a bad sign. On the other hand, another big reason programmes slow down comes back to the commitment of senior management and the bandwidth of middle management. If these are wavering, you need to address the issues quickly.

5. Make change ‘business as usual

In other words, for large organisations today, change is no longer episodic, it’s the ‘new normal’. So the old distinction between the transformational and operational no longer applies. The capabilities and mechanisms to instigate and implement change is something that needs to be become embedded in the organisation’s DNA so that it becomes ‘business as usual’. One way of doing that is to establish permanent ‘change hubs’ within divisions or functional areas that are concentrations of people with specialist skills who seed change from within.

6. Identify where you need help

Really understand what skills, knowledge and capabilities you need to achieve the transformation and be honest about where your gaps are. Once you have a clear picture of the requirements, expand your horizons and take a holistic approach to achieving the capabilities you need. For example, it may be that the best approach includes external consultancy or an interim on the ground. Interims can also help by providing a short-term injection of capability to allow the organisation to actually get on and do something. And, they can also bring long-term strategic value in terms of upskilling and building capability internally so that the organisation is stronger moving forward.

Richard has extensive experience running successful change programmes. If you would like to discuss how WBMS can support your change programmes please contact Stuart Jansze on 0207 6212392.


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