Stop Guessing: How to Measure the Impact of Transformational Change

By Peggy Parskey

transformational change questions

Are Your Transformational Change Projects Successful?

Nod your head if you have ever heard, seen or (heaven forbid), quoted this statistic: “70% of change efforts fail.”

You nodded, right? Let’s face it; the 70% failure statistic is dramatic. It builds the case for hiring experienced change practitioners. It cautions implementers to learn about change management practices and integrate them into their tactical tasks.

Unfortunately, it’s a made-up number. Back in the 90s, Michael Hammer speculated about the success rate of re-engineering projects and since then, authors and speakers have cited 70% as the failure rate for all types of change programs. Several change practitioners have dug into the change archives and vigorously refuted it. (See here, here and here.) Yet, it persists.

Even if no one had refuted the number, I stopped believing it years ago. As a measurement practitioner, I have found that:

  • Few organizations are disciplined or adept at identifying measures of success at the outset of their projects;
  • The data to measure success is often difficult to collect;
  • The evidence of success can rarely be attributed solely to the change effort;
  • Leaders move the finish line or unexpected circumstances cause it to move;
  • The initial sponsor leaves and her replacement does not revisit the measures.

Given all this evidence against it, how can anyone state with such certainty that 70% of change projects fail?

Make Measurement Simple, But Not Simplistic

Here is a suggestion: instead of quoting a fabricated and meaningless statistic, why not apply some discipline to your change projects and evaluate your own success rate? Conceptually, it’s simple. You identify what you expect to happen, you measure what happened, and you determine why you achieved or did not achieve your goals.

“Ah,” you say, “the world is complicated! Organizations, leaders, and goals change. The competitive landscape shifts. The economy doesn’t behave as predicted. And the larger the project, the greater the risk and uncertainty we face, which makes measurement that much more challenging.”

It’s true that measuring large, complex, multi-year projects can be daunting. But what are your options? Throw up your arms and avoid measurement altogether? Set goals but never evaluate your success? Or, adopt a simple but flexible framework that helps you learn as you go, adjust your direction, and achieve your goals? I suggest the last option.

Your measurement process doesn’t need to be complicated. First, break your project into phases such as:

1. Diagnosis and solution design
2. Planning and resourcing
3. Execution
4. Realizing the future state

At each stage, ask a series of questions to assess your readiness to move to the next stage. The questions are basic and essential for any major project, transformational or not. You can and should customize these questions for your organization based on what you expect to achieve. Regardless of the questions chosen, the primary aim at this point is to identify and agree on what questions to answer (see the graphic below).

After you identify the questions and get agreement from the program sponsors and key stakeholders, identify the measurement indicators. This step should be easy if Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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