chapter  7
3 Pages

Agenda for implementing change

WithColin Carnall

We complete this workbook by identifying an agenda for change. Following the agenda brings no guarantees of success but should increase its likelihood. The main ingredients of successful change programmes are:

A clear strategic aim is needed for implementation. The benefits of change are often slow to be achieved and intangible. Unfortunately the costs are often more tangible and are certainly more immediate. Therefore people need to understand why the changes are being made. What competitive advantage will the organization achieve if the changes are successfully implemented? I remember working hundreds of hours of overtime trying to get an electronically controlled crane working effectively in 1961. Why? The contract under which it was being built had a penalty clause against late delivery. Much more important however was the customer.

It was a company which was one of those who launched the ‘container revolution’ in the 1960s. The factory manager had made it clear to us that success now meant major sales in the future. We responded!

Support at top level is crucial to success. Senior managers must be clearly accountable for change. New systems, new product launches and new structures are expensive and disruptive. It is important that senior managers are clearly accountable so that people can see how expenditure and progress is being controlled. Increasingly, organizations now adopt a project management approach to reinforce this accountability.

89Major changes often lead to changes in the power structure of the organization. This is another reason why successful implementation needs project management with the involvement of users and line managers.

Implementation must be carefully planned and managed. It will take time and have far-reaching effects. Achieving ownership is crucial. Managing the stress induced by change, helping people to cope with change and understanding its impact are all important.

Where possible changes should be designed to depend on existing systems, procedures, cultures and traditions. Ensuring maximum compatibility creates a better basis for implementation.

The main problems to be solved in implementation are cross-functional problems.

The pace of change needs careful planning. Longer planning leads to quicker implementation, early success and faster diffusion.

Pragmatism, rather than a technology-driven ‘big project’ approach is more likely to deliver success. ‘The excellent is the enemy of the good’ is a relevant saying. People respond to pragmatism. They respond if the planned changes appear to deal with problems they recognize.

Systems should be built in to reward relevant behaviour. Providing early feedback of success helps. Developing reward systems to reinforce change is another powerful means of supporting implementation.

The importance of role modelling should not be ignored. Changing your behaviour to provide an example may be needed.

90Appropriate training and support systems need to be established. However, provide flexibility and allow users control over training. Too little and over-rigid training can be a hindrance. Training provided before people have accepted change will be of little value.