Demystifying Change Management


‘There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.’ (Niccolo Machiavelli, 1532)

This observation from Niccolo Machiavelli rings true today – research indicates that 60-70% of major change initiatives fail. But experience suggests that many failures could be avoided by understanding, and differentiating between, not only the change process but also the individual components of change. This principle was used to help a senior finance team of an NHS Foundation Trust get their change initiative back on track.

The problem…

The finance team of the NHS Foundation Trust had embarked upon a programme of transformation to ensure that the demands and challenges of the function could be met now and in the future. Despite a clear development plan which encompassed the changes needed to transform the function, progress had stalled. Following a brief diagnostic with the senior management team and staff, it was clear that some of the essential components that must be in place if change is to be successful had been overlooked. To help the Trust redefine their programme a tried and tested change framework for managing business change was used to structure a ‘way forward’ workshop.

The framework for managing business change…

The framework for managing business change integrated the stages of change and the essential components of change to provide a comprehensive tool for supporting the management of business change in the Trust.

The stages of change included the four typical steps involved in managing a change project (of whatever size)…

  • Initiation involves defining the purpose and nature of change.

  • Planning involves estimating the activities, time and resources needed to change.

  • Execution involves working through the plan to deliver the changes.

  • Closure involves finalising and reviewing the entire process of change.

The components of change included the three essential elements that in our experience determine the success of a change project (of whatever size)…

  • Organisational change incorporates the various aspects of an organisation that is being changed. This could be the strategy, structure, processes, systems or any other feature of an organisation. We have developed various models that are helpful in determining what an organisation needs to change, how it needs to change and who within it needs to change.

  • Change management incorporates the various activities required to manage the people-side of organisational changes. This is required to help people make the transition to the new ways of working defined by the changes. Activities might include communications, training, resistance management and sponsorship.

  • Project management incorporates the various activities required to manage and control the organisational changes. This is required to help deliver the organisational changes to time, quality and budget. Activities might include project organisation, progress reporting, risk management, change control and quality management.

Identifying the key deliverables for each of the components of change at each of the stages of change provided framework for managing business change

Using the framework for managing business change provided the Trust with the confidence and discipline needed to get their change initiative back on track. Confidence, because using the framework provided a sense of clarity in what seemed like muddy waters. Discipline, because applying the framework ensured that all key elements of successful change were considered.

The Outcome…

Our support enabled the senior finance team to reinvigorate the transformation of the function by: creating a shared vision of the future to set direction and focus for the team’s efforts; emphasising the people aspects of change to ensure that new ways of working are embedded into day to day operations; and providing a programme structure to plan, co-ordinate and control the various change activities required to realise the vision.


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