Why is change management important?

Here at myvirtualchangemanager we say that 'change matters because your people matter'. And yet that is not enough when it comes to business. In reality most organisations focus on financials, economics and the link between people and those aspects is tenuous. The focus on business drivers often misses the mark when it comes to key people drivers. The reality is that talent attraction and retention, which are key contributors to an organisation success is a positive people outcome when change is well managed from strategic inputs into operational implementations. Yet that still seems like it is not enough, so exactly what is? What will have executive's listen and invest in change?

So why would I say that change is important?

Consider it in this way. I can exercise, take myself to the gym and eat better and I will achieve some degree of success. If I hired a personal trainer or coach to help me to focus and utilise their expertise appropriately I will achieve 2-3 times more success (if not more). I talk from personal experience on this. I once took up one of those offers to have a personal trainer session in a gym, and I realised I wasn't pushing myself AT ALL! (and my muscles let me know as well the next day). Now if I wanted to go to the Olympics then I might have hired a personal coach and a dietician. The greater the outcome, the higher the stakes, the more expertise I am going to rely on and work with.

Now let's bring that into a program outcome context. You have a big goal to achieve. Are you going to leave yourself to your own self-informed program or do you bring in experts who are a team who can support you to achieve your program outcomes. Research shows any program's return on investment and benefits will always be closer to being achieved with a change manager involved. There is a 6 to 1 return on investment* for programs where change support is involved. Why? Well often the biggest gap when a change manager isn't involved is in ensuring people are engaged and owning the solution.

In fact if there is a high investment and expected return on that investment, then you may want to invest in both a change manager AND a human centred design specialist involved in the design process. 

What are some of the catalysts for leaders to request a change resource?

In my experience there are a number of reasons that change support is requested:

1) There are major implementation issues being experienced. This is unfortunately common in digital programs. It may be where IT and the business areas are struggling to connect, or where there have been poor implementations and there is now a mess to clean up. I have been asked to come in on a number of programs that had either been poorly delivered upon, and I have played an initial role of being a bridge builder between the technology areas and the business.

2) The leader is used to having change support and has had a positive experience in a program where a change manager has been involved. One of the best change sponsors I had ever worked with was a CEO who understood the role of the change lead, was a naturally open leader and collaborative in every way. The outcome was also a leadership team who then came together and displayed the same values.

3) The leader witnesses a positive implementation with change involved and as a sponsor wants the same level of success.  It's a When Harry met Sally moment-  'I want what she's having'.  When a leader experiences a well led and implemented program, they want a similar set up. This is often a source of the request for change support.

4) A Program Management office recommends a change specialist to be involved to support the implementation. If a Program Management office doesn't understand change, is it really a mature practice? I have written about this before. An experienced PMO understands the mix of change and program management.

 5) The people engagement scores in the organisation are crying out for the way change is introduced to be improved. While the change skills and all accountabilities regarding change should never and could never be outsourced, however by bringing in change expertise with the appropriate level and with the right level of leadership support, the indicator in engagement scores related to change could improve.

Why is change management important NOW?

The answer to this is simple. If you are currently investing in a sizeable portfolio of work with no change expertise to support the program, you could be compromising its outcomes. If you are undertaking a transformation where leaders may not have the time or strong capability to lead the change, you may want to assure your staff engagement measures aren't compromised and perhaps even improved. The better question to answer is whether you can afford to ignore the requirement to have your people participate in change in your organisation, and pay the opportunity cost of not investing sooner rather than later.   


* Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) study in 2020.

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