Natural Change Lifecycles

Gaining an understanding of the natural lifecycles associated with the elements of a certain change can greatly advantage the ensuing change performance. The Change Manager can achieve this by learning as much as is ‘reasonably’ possible about an intended change and its context. It follows that it is possible, with enough ‘learning’, to identify the ‘natural lifecycle’ for a given change. Working to fully understand what the change objectives are; the nature of the change, the context for the change, the people and systems impacted by the change and also an understanding of the environment that the change will be undertaken in, provides the Change Manager with the information he needs to build up a picture of the ‘ideal’ change management requirements and inferred lifecycle. If available, historical records of similar change experiences would also help inform the change (Kolb, 1984). Given this information it is possible for a Change Manager to define the optimum lifecycle (the optimum ‘natural’ lifecycle) for a given change and, given such an optimal view, be better enabled to effectively manage the change.

Also, once the natural lifecycle has been identified and the need, business or otherwise, arises that requires it to be compromised, then this can be done from an informed position and, thereby with a degree of premeditation, the Change Manager can work to minimise any ensuing negative consequences. 

The attributes of the change lifecycle can be built up over time with recorded real time experiences factored into the resulting perspective. The variables to be considered include:

  • Type of people impacted
  • Number of people impacted
  • Extant cultural elements e.g. pride, discipline
  • The expected time change is to be made over
  • Complexity
  • Change imposed or internally conceived
  • Geographical location
  • Type and number of systems involved
  • Nature of change i.e. working or living conditions, cultural, working practices

 Things not considered as part of the lifecycle but seen as change management environmental variables include:

  • Whether the impacted community has experienced a similar change before
  • Whether the personnel administering the change have had a similar experience before
  • Whether the change is welcomed by the people it impacts
  • The amount of change activity the organisation has experienced in recent times

These are contextual factors and would, in context, have a modifying effect of the natural lifecycle. 

References:

Kolb, D (1984) Experiential Learning, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, Inc

Measurement – an essential capability

Much of the assessment, forecasting and monitoring of change is heavily reliant on metrics and measures. Metrics are those values that are taken as a direct result of an activity or function and Measures are those values that the organisation uses to gauge performance and make decisions. There are many instances where metrics can be used directly as measures but frequently a measure is derived through a combination of two or more metrics. 

Consider answers to the following questions: 

  • If you are considering a change, how do you know your current level of performance?
  • If you are undertaking a change how do you know it is on course to deliver its benefits? 
  • If you have completed a change how do you know you have been successful?

Robust answers to these and similar questions are essential prerequisites for successful organisation change and can only be enabled through considered and effective measurement management.

However, measurement is a non-trivial ‘discipline’. Notice the use of the word ‘discipline’ here. There are many variables associated with effective measurement. These include (in no particular order):

  • What standards are applicable to this measure?
  • What units are the measures to be taken in?
  • What frequency is the measure to be taken?
  • Is the measure to be used directly or used to derive other measures?
  • Where is the measured data stored when it is taken?
  • Who is responsible for taking the measure?
  • Who is the measure intended for?
  • How long is the recorded data to be retained for?
  • Is there a security issue associated with the data?
  • How are the measures to be reported?
  • For what purpose is the measure being taken?
  • What techniques will be used to analyse the resulting data?
  • What mechanism will be used to take the measure?
  • Is the measure to be used in supporting some trend analysis?
  • Is the measure to be taken as an output from existing processes and activities?
  • Does the required measure require a special process, function or tool to be utilised?
  • Over what period should the measure be taken?
  • Is the measure to be used in conjunction with other measures? If so how is their correlation assured?
  • How and where are measurement results to be communicated?

Some measures can be associated with more than one change and, as the number of measures being taken increases, so the risk of unnecessary duplication or confusion increases also. It is clear that an organisation-wide measurement capability that establishes and maintains an organisational ‘measurement dictionary’ can help alleviate such problems and make the measurement of change more effective and efficient. The measurement dictionary is used to record the answers to questions drawn from the list above.