In the not-so-distant past, the term “change management” was not widely understood or accepted in the corporate world. The attitude seemed to be, “We designed a great new process or implemented a great new technology that fixes all our problems—let’s move on to the next thing!” Sure, intuitively we understood that employees need to be trained when change happens. But that was about the extent of it. Change management was a nice to have (at the end of a project), not a need to have (throughout the project lifecycle). Or so went the prevailing wisdom.
Today, that sentiment is quickly becoming a relic of a bygone era. Across the board, organizational leaders are recognizing that change management is a critical element that helps ensure the new process or technology is not just successfully implemented, but embraced and adopted by the people that actually use it.
The data backs this up. Prosci—one of leading research bodies in the field of change management—recently released its 2011 Best Practices in Change Management report, which surveyed 650 professionals representing 62 countries and hundreds of companies. Some of the top trends from the study include:
• Senior leaders are expressing greater awareness of the need and value of change management in their organizations.
• Organizations are establishing more internal positions dedicated to change management.
• Project Managers are asking for change management support and resources earlier and more often in their projects.
And perhaps most striking—study participants with successful change management programs were six times more likely to report that their project met or exceeded its objectives.
Still, not all the findings are positive. The study also showed that while overall awareness and interest in change management is growing, the amount of work and thus the number of resources required for successful change management are underestimated. Juxtapose this with the following: 73% of participants report they are near or past the point of change saturation (up from 66% in 2009).
So employees are saying that, more than ever, they are reaching their limit in their ability to handle all the organizational change pushed at them. Yet at the same time, organizations continue to underestimate the time and resources required to help employees make sense of all this change, which is a major factor in a project achieving its objectives.
If we agree that the volume and the speed of business change is not slowing down any time soon—and we agree that change is critical to long-term growth—then it seems like the most success organizations will be the ones that invest the time and resources to increase their capacity to handle change.