For a new business strategy to be effectively executed, major changes will need to be made to your organization. This may mean implementing multiple strategic initiatives and sub-initiatives. Many CEOs will set these change efforts loose on the organization at the same time, on top of any change efforts already underway. If senior leaders think their Line of Business changes are necessary, they are granted the go-ahead.
Because each is its own separate change effort, they are staffed, budgeted, governed, and monitored as independent projects. The leaders of each effort may run their projects using different change models or competing consulting firms. Autonomy is not a bad thing, but it can trigger significant challenges for the business.
Not Integrating Your Change Efforts Will Cost You
Unfortunately, unleashing numerous isolated efforts can create impossible levels of chaos, confusion, and competition. Without an integration strategy, the stakeholders effected by several of the efforts simultaneously may get overwhelmed and frustrated by the lack of coordination of what is being asked of them. Project team members or leads may not have the capacity to do all the change work required. There may be insufficient resources, or resources may be inadvertently given to lesser priority initiatives. The sequence of changes may conflict with what is needed. All this increases the cost of your business strategy, radically slows things down, and can damage employee morale and commitment to change.
How to Integrate your Change Initiatives
Fortunately, there is a better way. For successful implementation and to reduce the cost of change, integrate your change efforts from the beginning.
Some key steps to integrating your change efforts:
1. Identify your major initiatives, including their sub-initiatives or work streams. This includes both business strategy initiatives as well as Line of Business operational efforts already underway.
2. Establish a change infrastructure for how you will govern these changes, make decisions about their scope, budgets, and leadership, allocate resources, and determine overall sequence and timing.
3. Create overarching leadership agreements for how to minimize the complexity and burden on your organization, manage capacity and impact, and share accountability for enterprise-wide success.
4. Establish a multiple-project integration team to streamline and consolidate your interdependent projects, create a coordinated implementation strategy, remove redundancies and conflicts, logically sequence the work, and allocate resources intelligently. This team should have the authority to course correct the work of the initiatives, or escalate key issues to senior leaders for resolution.
5. Stay involved to ensure that the most strategic of initiatives is set up for success.
Use a Common Change Process Methodology
To support integrating your efforts, think seriously about using one common change methodology – one that allows for customization to the unique needs of each initiative, cross-fertilization among them, and a shared language and approach to handling process complexities and human dynamics. Most organizations rely on project management or Six Sigma practices, and these approaches will work for less complex changes, but do not suffice for transformational change. Too many change models, with differing tools and terminology, adds to confusion and competition, impairing what is best for the overall organization.
Coordinate Change Efforts with Existing Business Operations
Another key area to manage is how your change efforts impact and are effected by your ongoing operations. Often the same people who need to keep the business running well are also participating in leading your change efforts. With awareness of these dynamics, make a conscious plan for how to address them from the start, before they get out of hand. Set your changes up to interface effectively with your ongoing operational needs so that neither is sub-optimized. With an integrated strategy that all leaders agree with, you can change your business successfully while you run your business.