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“Nothing endures but change” - Heraclitus (540 BC - 480 BC)

   by Larry Schork


Change. All things in life are constantly changing – it’s the only constant. Great organizations are always anticipating change and have their eye on the future. Their culture looks for ways to improve and to deliver increasing value to their customers, employees, and shareholders. Constantly in motion, they create the future and put into place the forces that allow them to shape and adapt to it. The methodology that has been developed to implement change is called Change Management. Change Management is a process and set of tools that have been developed to insure that individuals and organizations can successfully navigate the many perils that are encountered as they seek to become what they are not now.

Change Management has been applied to many areas of business – from the need to develop new products to create new markets to the need to implement the processes and controls that enable the organization to grow and excel. If change is one of the challenges you face, the need to move from here to there, to become more than you are now, this article may be helpful in showing you how successful organizations have managed change – much as you can by following the few guidelines.

One of the keys to successful change is to develop a Change Management plan. The purpose of the plan is to identify and define what the change is, what exists today that is impacted by the change, how you are going to get there, the risks involved with the change, and the resources required to make it happen. The essence of the plan is captured in the DMAIC model – define, measure, analyze, improve, and control.

Change management is not a serial process. Rather, it is a series of parallel tracks that can involve the entire organization at different points in its evolution. Coordinating and orchestrating all the parts is the job of the Change Management team. Members of the team require an executive sponsor, one responsible for ensuring the success of the change by providing necessary resources and evaluating options. The group most impacted and leading the change are the Key Stakeholders. These are the various managers, employees, and sometimes customers that are most directly impacted and stand to benefit from the change.

Finally, there is the Change Management team itself. This is composed of the project managers and internal resources responsible for executing the plan and reporting on results. As in all organizational endeavors, team leadership is the key to success and success will largely depend on the commitment and belief that the end result will yield substantial benefits to the organization.

Following are the basic steps in the change management process:

  1. The change process begins by defining in precise terms just what the change is intended to accomplish. Ambiguities, lack of clarity and commitment, and ulterior motives will most definitely be uncovered along the way. This most assuredly will cause the team to lose confidence and put the outcome in jeopardy. This is where executive level commitment, communication, and involvement is most needed and is the primary responsibility of the Executive Sponsor. Constant and ever present engagement will be needed.
  2. Once the change-state is defined, the next step in the plan is to assess where you are today and the impact it will have on the organization. Time spent in this stage will eliminate any “surprises” that will be encountered. You want to focus on the large items of course, but many change management projects have failed because of inattention to, or dismissal of details. The Change Management Team is the best asset in determining what areas need the most attention and where to devote resources.
  3. Having completed the steps above, the actual plan can be established. A solid training and communications plan needs to be developed. For most change projects, follow the 20-60-20 rule where 20% of the people will not embrace the change for whatever reason while the top 20% are enthusiastic and eager. Focus on moving the 60% to your goal to maximize time and resources.

There is more to be said about Change Management than what is written here. These are the basics to get you started. Here at Pinnacle we have the expertise to help you implement the changes that are needed in your organization. We have helped countless organizations, from large Fortune 100 companies seeking to implement processes and controls encompassing hundreds of people, to smaller companies seeking to implement the process and controls that will ensure their future success. Contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help you.

Larry Schork is a senior Pinnacle consultant specializing in Change Management and large project implementations. He can be reached @