Most organizations have a range of internal change consultants, typically found in different departments, such as project management, organization development, change management, quality, process improvement, LEAN and Six Sigma, and IT. These consultants all add value to the change process, but not at the same time and not in the same way. None of them oversees the entire change process from A to Z, so there is an absence of strategic oversight to what all changes need across the organization. Inevitably, value is left on the table.
Some pitfalls you may encounter:
- Change leaders calling on change consultants’ services too late in the process to ensure clear foresight or prevent people or process problems.
- Competition among these resources for who gets called on for what, and when, and who should answer to whom on project teams.
- Leaders not seeing the need for support with change, or when they do, miss significant opportunities for how best to apply these talents.
- Existing services offering a piece of what is needed, and thinking that is all that is needed.
- Nobody is designated to keep their eye on the organization’s strategic change needs such as priorities and sequencing of changes, capacity for change, or impacts on culture and leadership.
- There is no conscious, proactive attention to ensure that the organization sets up its mission-critical change efforts for success from the very beginning.
- There is nobody overseeing that the level of change expertise needed is being developed and used in the best way.
- There is not effective collaboration among these various change resources for the good of the change efforts and the entire enterprise.
There is an answer to these common dynamics. It is in creating a Strategic Change Center of Excellence.
Strategic Change Center of Excellence
The complexity, cost, and potential benefit of enterprise transformation have generated a need for a Strategic Change Center of Excellence. This Center of Excellence is comprised of the organization’s major change support resources, as previously listed. Likely, your organization has much of this consulting expertise in place, at its headquarters and in its business lines. The Center is a way of organizing, networking, monitoring and training them for the best and highest use.
The Center is one of the first steps you should consider in creating transformational change as a strategic discipline because it builds on your current expertise and successes in leading change and takes them to new levels – levels required for breakthrough results.
The Center’s charge is to create a “new breed” of change consultant, devoted to the overall success of the business, no matter what their expertise, when they are used during change projects, or where they live in the businesses.
The Center can play many roles:
1. Provide the central pool of the most highly-skilled consulting resources for use on major change efforts.
2. Determine complementarities and ensure consistent practices and tools among all change resources and their approaches, thereby providing the best and most aligned guidance for the overall success of change.
3. Help match resources to demand and be a voice for change capacity reality checks.
4. Provide temporary or “loaned” resources where the organization most needs them.
5. Be a vehicle for developing the highest level of change leadership and consulting that the organization needs to succeed.
6. Participate in the organization’s strategic planning process to ensure the identification and prioritization of the most important change efforts.
7. Identify, build, and distribute best change practices.
8. Pilot new change practices before rollout.
9. Provide “case management” learning clinics and showcases for others (consultant and leaders) during any phase of change.
10. Surface critical risk factors, issues, and needs for course correction from all levels of the organization engaged in major changes.
11. Advocate for realistic conditions for success on how changes are set up and led.
12. Input to and look after changes in culture and leadership style affecting key change efforts’ success, including coaching executives as they lead their change efforts.
13. Advise and support the executives in charge of the most important change initiatives or programs.
14. Provide the best resources and services on major change efforts – for start-up, change strategy development, planning, design, implementation, and consultation on the multiple project integration requirements among all priority initiatives.
15. Ensure effective stakeholder engagement and change communications.
16. Provide change assessments after to fact to identify Lessons Learned and Best Practices.
17. Help address cross-boundary/cross business integration needs relevant to producing the highest results from change.
18. Input to and facilitate essential course corrections to the change agenda and its priorities.
19. Work toward creating full organizational alignment in the design and execution of all change efforts in support of the business strategy.
The Center’s consultants can also provide high-level change education and coaching for executives, change sponsors, leaders and middle managers. A critical role they can play is to help identify the organizations best practices and patterns that inhibit its ability to succeed in change. They can use change history audits to surface this data and then work with key executives to determine how to prevent these negative practices and embed better ways to oversee change.
How to Structure and Run a Strategic Change Center of Excellence?
The Center works as a network and does not require changes in organizational structure. It need not house your resources; rather, it supports them, accesses them, and develops them.
The Center can be structured and run in several ways. It is a convener, organizer, developer, and orchestrator. It can host periodic face-to-face meetings and trainings, work virtually, provide web-based education and support, and use an interactive intranet sight for meetings, learning, project or issue tracking, logistics, and communications. When working on key change initiatives, the Center’s consultants should partner with business line or headquarter change sponsors to provide the best change consulting from the very beginning of the effort, which is the heart of strategic consulting.
The Center’s role, in whole or in part, is a necessary investment in ensuring your organization can achieve results and create the value it needs from its most important change efforts over the long term. Building strategic consulting expertise within such a center is the next edge of project management, organization development and change management. It expands the role and positioning of these services to focus on the organization’s most important changes, using and teaching the strategic disciplines for change the organization chooses to create. The more major change you have going on or planned, the more you will gain value from investing in this strategy.