Change Management: how mature is your organization?

Article written by Caroline Morck Jensen

In a competitive economy, there is growing awareness in organizations of the need to respond effectively to changes in order to stay in the game. For many, this has yet to translate into practical efforts to ultimately build CM (Change Management) as a core competency. At stake is the number of projects completed on time while staying on budget and delivering expected ROI. So where does your organization stand in terms of CM and where should you focus in order to improve? Using PROSCI’s auditing model[1] to rate CM “maturity” on a scale from 1 to 5, we help you find the right answer.

Maturity Rating.

When change comes as a surprise to most people in an organization, causing resistances, we really are at ground zero. Moving up the CM maturity model requires more attention to the people side of change.

Level 1 - “absent or ad hoc”. At level 1, leaders and project managers may be unaware of CM or show little interest. CM, if used, is conceived of as some sort of emergency toolkit to save suffering projects. The focus is on designing the best technical solution and key components to the overall success of the project, such as adoption rate and usage proficiency, are neglected. The result is that productivity suffers and people opt out of the change[2].

Getting familiar with CM as a method for increasing project success and pilot testing on projects that run up against resistances are good ways to start building a case for CM within the organization[L1].

Level 2 – “isolated projects”. Here, CM is applied sporadically on a limited range of projects and is not fully integrated with Project Management. On a general note, lack of sponsorship and coaching prevent proper engagement and restricts interactions between teams using CM.

In order to establish a more coherent framework, it is crucial to collect information on existing initiatives, create project clusters and a library of shared resources. Duly trained, leaders and senior executives may now step forward to provide more visibility to CM needs. In addition to building a solid sponsorship structure, celebrating achievements will help keep momentum.

Level 3 – “multiple projects”. At this point, CM has gained prominence across the portfolio, allowing for knowledge transfers between projects. Yet, the coexistence of multiple approaches and methodologies paints a somewhat confusing picture with different degrees of CM penetration. As skills and resources continue to emerge here and there, the organization would benefit of a wide-scale training program dedicated to empowering the whole management chain, from project leaders to team members.

The next step is to establish organizational standards and a common methodology. Once the approach is decided and properly backed up, remaining tools may be acquired and promoted across the whole structure.

Level 4 – “organizational standards”. The existence of a common methodology has turned CM into a highly structured process, where clear standards are followed at the very onset of most projects. Resources and tools are available for executive, project and change leaders. Managers and supervisors are well equipped to operate changes and get frontline employees on board. Sponsors take an active role, keeping everyone focused to ensure transformational efforts are sustained in the long run. Standardization is here an important milestone but centralization is still incomplete.

The missing link between stage 4 and full maturity is the existence of a formal position or staff in charge of orchestrating CM efforts across levels, identifying gaps and course-correcting when needed.

Level 5 – “organizational competency”. CM is part of the DNA the organization. Significant skills and expertise have been built up and present at each organizational level. Conversation between project management and CM is fluid with virtually every project benefiting from dedicated resources to optimize delivery. Thoroughly equipped to maintain their competitive edge and thrive in a fast-paced environment, organizations displaying type 5 maturity are able to cope with more changes and experience higher productivity levels and less resistance.

The predictive power of the maturity score in terms of performance is, in this context, important. Research led by PROSCI shows that organizations that implement an efficient Change Management strategy have on average six times more likelihood of meeting their objectives[3]. Moving up the maturity “ladder” should become a priority. The model provides a simple tool to assess the current situation, envision the future and build a roadmap towards the end state. On the path towards making CM second nature to your organization, it is also the fastest way to take stock of incremental progress (Graph: COPYRIGHT ©  PROSCI).

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[1] PROSCI (blog), Five Levels of Maturity [online] https://www.prosci.com/change-management/thought-leadership-library/change-management-maturity-model

[2] PROSCI (blog), Change Management Maturity Model Audit  [online] http://blog.prosci.com/change-management-maturity-model-audit-

[3] Also see Halluent, V. (2016), Change Management R.O.I – shifting the conversation, solving the challenge [online] http://www.nexum.eu/article/change-management-roi

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