Three Questions That Build a Stronger Change Management Plan

Posted by Ronda Cilsick on June 25, 2018

Organizational Change Management

By Ronda Cilsick, Vice President of Global Consulting, Deltek

And why your company should be asking them

Whether your organization is planning to launch a new ERP solution or simply roll out a new process, change management is a critical component of any new initiative.

Creating a good change management plan that clearly defines roles and related activities is a key first step in ensuring the desired outcome for any project. However, gathering the details needed to build a successful plan can seem daunting and it can be hard to know where to start.

No matter the size or scope of your organization, you should start by asking the following three questions to create a stronger organizational change management plan. 

Why are we changing?

Before moving forward, it is important to clearly define the reason for the change. What is your objective? How is this change initiative going to achieve a better result for your organization?

Be prepared to tell the story of why your company is changing so that you can inspire buy-in. Or, as noted in “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” by authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath, be prepared to deliver a “destination postcard” that shows your colleagues what the end of your journey could look like. 

When defining your organization’s “why,” it is important to:

  • Know your audience and make sure your goals aren’t just based on what YOU see as important. Consider the others involved and make sure the objective is important to them as well.
  • Understand not only what isn’t working, but also what is working well. Gain insights to support your change from areas in the business where similar changes have already occurred and work well.
  • Explain the big picture, not just the immediate change. This involves explaining how your desired change fits into your organization’s strategy and longer term goals.
  • Paint a descriptive picture from the audience’s perspective that invokes an emotional connection to the change.

Who needs to get on board?

Before creating an organization change management plan, it is also critical to ensure joint accountability by involving the right people in your solution development process. Create a list of all levels of colleagues who will need to buy in to your plan – from key influencers to end users to even potentially impacted customers. The more diverse their perspectives, the more effective your solution will ultimately be.

  • Consider your stakeholders’ perspectives; what’s in it for them? 
  • Who are your resisters?  Who are your early adopters? Who are your influencers?
  • Do prep work in order to obtain stakeholder buy-in. Remember, change management is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, look at each person or group individually and identify the right way to engage them. For example, some individuals might need data and supporting facts to get their buy-in, while others might relate better if you paint a more emotional picture of the end state and how it will be better. 
  • Take the time to get to know your stakeholders. To better understand how to influence stakeholders draw from your experiences working with the individual or you may ultimately benefit from using tools like Myers Briggs or DISC to gain insights into how to best influence them.
  • Identify the tools that you will need to communicate with stakeholders – will you be having in-person meetings, using collaborative project-based software, or sending regular newsletters?

Use these strategies to identify and understand your stakeholders before moving on to ask the following question.

What’s the impact of the change?

To be able to develop the right change management plan, you need to put yourself in the shoes of those colleagues who will experience change. Look at things from their perspective. What’s in it for them? How will these changes impact them? Why should they want to hang in there for the end result? What will change for them? 

This will help you break down barriers and build the right communication plan.   

It’s important to consider how the change will impact everyone involved, from those at the top to individual contributors at the lowest level. Their buy-in will help drive processes to evolve the solution.

  • Consider all aspect of your desired change and examine potential impacts, whether obvious or more obscure. 
  • Identify the different groups of people who are likely to be impacted by the change and consider how their world will be different. 

By asking these questions, you ensure that your organization lays the groundwork for an effective change management plan, ultimately helping you achieve the desired outcome and results.

In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven climate, change management can seem especially challenging. By starting with a thorough plan that clearly states why, who, and what, your organization will be in a better position to achieve its desired outcome and move forward to project success.


About the Author

Ronda Cilsick is Vice President of Global Consulting for Herndon-based Deltek, the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors.