In this first element of the process the team will define the problem statement and discover the commitment of the organization to change work processes, organizational structure and what resources are available.
SPONSORSHIP! SPONSORSHIP! SPONSORSHIP!
A leading indicator of successful organizational change is having an executive sponsor who will participate actively and visibly throughout the change initiative. It likely is the very first thing you should consider before committing time, effort, and resources. The executive sponsor will provide the visible leadership needed to drive a program forward, create a vision for change, build relationships, and lend credibility to the change project. This role is critical to building a coalition of internal sponsors including department managers and functional leaders to work through resistance and obstacles.
Time to assemble your team and establish goals and objectives.
The executive sponsor may refer team members. This may include internal and external team members. Who will act as project manager and what commitment of time will be needed by each of the team members? You may elect a “core team” of 5-10 members with SME invitations as needed. Key deliverables from the team will be setting goals, timelines, data collection, resource allocation, communication, coordination, monitoring implementation and transitioning the project to the process owner.
Define a problem statement to develop a constructive problem-solving methodology.
State the current issue or problem that requires timely action to improve the situation. Concisely explain the barrier the current problem places between a process and the current situation. The statement should be completely objective, focusing only on the facts of the problem and leaving out any subjective opinions. This is not an attempt to solve the problem. It is recommended that you ask who, what, when, where and why to create the structure for your problem statement. This also makes the reason for change more comprehensible and serves as a lead-in to subsequent messaging to your stakeholders. The problem statement provides a guide for navigating the project once it begins. It is continually referenced throughout the duration of the project to help the team remain focused and on track.
What variables are in-scope and out-of-scope to the project? This will work to establish boundaries and focus on the variables that will directly impact the initiative. Scope creep is a natural tendency when bringing diverse people into the discussion to solution a problem. Consider the 3P’s – People, Process and Product (or service). You will find this scoping exercise will be referred to throughout the project and will work to maintain focus.
Identify stakeholders and their relationship to the project.
Stakeholders are defined as anyone who can impact or has a vested interest in the outcome of the project. Rate their level of influence over the outcome as minimum, moderate, or critical. Discuss and document how each stakeholder or stakeholder group might be involved or what they are expected to do differently.
Many organizations have multiple initiatives underway. Resources are committed, timelines need to be met, and customers have expectations. When considering the change, where does it rank on the priority list? Is it strategically aligned? Is there a good likelihood of success? What is the customer impact? Is it budget friendly? Is it crucial to organizational success? What is the impact to the bottom line?
Any experienced change management practitioner will begin with assessing the organization’s readiness to adopt the change, and the potential level of resistance the team can expect. This will cause the team to take actions to establish the framework needed to adopt and sustain the initiative. Conducting a survey of select organizational members will reveal to the team that the organization is:
a. Not ready; need to develop action plans and mitigate risks;
b. Somewhat ready; monitor readiness and take mitigating actions as needed; or
c. Ready; no mitigation needed at this time.
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