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Projects can change things. Some projects can change many things. Business transformation is a scary topic. How can you go from here to your vision for the future, without it being all about tasks or deliverables? How can you convince people to adopt the new way of working Melanie Franklin’s new book, Managing Business Transformation – A Practical Guide, explains how.
The problem of how to manage change starts with the fact there is no one definition. Franklin offers three definitions.
To facilitate a smooth transition to a desired and sustainable change state, both individuals and organisations must engage
All management activities required to make the desired future state possible.
Understanding and defining the scope and importance of the change is essential, as well as planning and successfully implementing the change.
The lifecycle in 4 steps
She then outlines a 4-step business transformation lifecycle. This includes:
Understanding the change: Identifying the reasons for the change; motivating people to change; using PESTLE analysis; creating stories to’sell” the change.
Planning and preparation: Identifying change activities and who is involved; creating and communicating a change plan.
Implementing: Building a team; motivating others to take action on the change.
Embedience: Moving to business as usual; supporting change; addressing those that won’t change.
She writes that “the benefit of this life cycle” is that it provides a starting place for change and an idea about all the factors that must be considered. It implies that managing change can be done in a linear, logical way.
Franklin recognizes that this is not true and believes that change management cannot be done with a one-size fits all approach. She believes that change is personal. She believes that people are more motivated to make changes if they see the impact it has on their lives than corporate goals. To tap into this potential and bring them along to your transformational change projects, it is important to translate the business benefits of change into meaningful statements about how individuals will be affected.
Aligning project management and change plans
Planning and preparation are key to achieving transformational change. Franklin believes there is no one way to plan for change. However, she uses the common model that includes transition, pre-transition and post-transition.
These phases must be mapped to your project management methods if the change is being managed as a project. Franklin acknowledges that this is not always simple. Chapter 5 in her book focuses on how project management and change management can be aligned. She writes:
“Projects must deliver on time, within budget, and to specific quality criteria. However, the pace and scope for individual changes cannot be controlled in this way. Project activities offer the potential to change: new processes, system structures, etc.; change activities create the persuasion and motivation that leads to the new business environment.
She believes that change must be achieved first before a project can be created to accomplish it. I believe that project teams can use both, but it is difficult to close a project.
Soft skills are key to change
People are important. Franklin shares this quote from someone who works in change: “I don’t care what stakeholders think about the changes – the important thing is how hard they will put into them.” If they don’t like it but won’t do anything about it that’s fine. But if they do, they will make a difference.