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Avoid the Day-old Sushi Approach to Leading Organizational Change

Do you love sushi as much as I do? So how do you know if what you ordered was made fresh with quality ingredients? Would you buy pre-packaged sushi from a gas station or convenience store on some remote highway? What if that sushi was also over a day old – how many risks are you willing to take?

In today’s fast paced business world, risk taking is a desirable trait. However, risks associated with eating sushi are small compared with larger risks that leaders face – and decisions they must make on how to mitigate those risks when planning organizational change. In this post, I describe three questions you should ask to ensure your organizational change strategy includes the right ingredients to mitigate risk and avoid the perception of questionable day-old sushi.

Question 1: Do I need organizational change management in my project from the start? One of the most important steps to mitigate the risk of low organizational alignment and adoption of change is to start early. According to David Chapman, General Manager of Perficient’s Organizational Change Management Practice, “you can’t start change management too early, but you can start too late.”(1) By involving organizational change management from the start you can determine if your leadership teams are aligned and shares the vision and commitment to support the change. Also, because people need time to mentally prepare for change, involving organizational change management early will increase the runway for people to become ready, willing, and able to change.

Question 2: Does quality matter? When winning the hearts and minds of people to embrace a new vision and learn new ways of working together is important, quality makes a vital difference. Quality organizational change management practices come from following a sound and proven methodology, engaging key stakeholders, and enrolling informal leaders to become part of an extended change network to bring a common and unified vision of the change throughout the organization. By investing in high quality practices and building a strong foundation for change, you resist the temptation to treat the people-side of change as an afterthought.

Question 3: Should the transition extend past go-live event? During large change projects, teams are often focused on the launch and go-live event – that date when they turn off the old technology and turn on the new. However, people cannot be programmed to simply instantly switch from old to new. People go through a transition period – which should begin in the weeks leading up to the change and continue in the weeks after the change. This transition period is unavoidable. Thus, leaders who rush to implement the technical change and attempt to skip or skim over the people transition side will find that their people pass through the transition period after the change event which makes the overall change experience more difficult and costly.

Bottom Line: According to a recent study by Prosci, organizations with excellent change management in place were six times more likely to meet their objectives than organizations with poor change management. (2) This research underscores the importance of designing high quality organizational change management practices into your plans to consistently achieve your strategic objectives. As a wise leader, you should answer a resounding “Yes!” to each of my three questions. Otherwise, you run the unnecessary risk that your people’s organizational change experience will have the fishy smell of outdated and cheap sushi.

Sources:

  1. https://blogs.perficient.com/2018/05/17/3-reasons-change-management-work-early/
  2. https://www.prosci.com/resources/articles/cost-benefit-analysis-change-management

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