Coworkers thinking about the future of their organization in meeting room

Why there’s no such thing as a small change in your organization

by ​Karen Henry

Even a seemingly minor change could have a huge impact.

In my conversations with customers, it’s rare to come across somebody not on board with change management. Everyone seems to agree that when change occurs in an organization, you need to leverage that change and help employees make a smooth, comfortable transition.

Where the disagreement occurs is in determining the scope of that change management program.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some variation of “It’s just a little change — it’s no big deal. We do it all the time. Just send a quick email and we’ll be fine.” In my experience, however, the size of the change is relative to the people you’re communicating with — and you never truly know how important a change is until you talk with the people it impacts.

A matter of perspective

Oftentimes, the higher you go in an organization, the more you see the “big picture,” but the less you see of the details. And what seems like a small change to you may be a very big change to somebody else.

This can create issues across your entire organization. What might seem like a small change to an IT manager — replacing a legacy piece of software with the latest and greatest, for example — can have an absolutely massive impact on those people who use the software all day long. Without a change management program in place, those affected by this change will struggle — impacting productivity, efficiency, and staff morale.

What it comes down to is that a robust and proactive change management program should always be in place before undergoing a change. It benefits both the organization and the individual.

How to manage change

When approaching change management, you need a holistic approach. This is why an external partner can prove so helpful. Having someone unaffiliated with your organization examining your processes with an unbiased perspective can be invaluable. When my team works with an organization, we first do an analysis of the project scope, timeline, and budget to identify that we have the appropriate resources to effectively support every department and all of the key figures throughout the organization. And rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, we look at customizing that support the particular needs of the organization.

We do this because the impact of not having a change management program in place can be devastating. Say you’ve spent a ton of money on technology and services to perform a specific activity. Without a change management program, that piece of technology oftentimes sits around gathering cobwebs, as workers stick to what’s familiar and comfortable. Even when the technology is used, it’s very unlikely you’ll ever get the value out of it that you initially put in. I’ve even observed companies that spent millions on technology, but rather than customizing the technology solution to address the needs of their workforce and automating the processes that had been done manually, they simply hired more people to continue doing the manual processes. This dramatically — and needlessly — increased overhead.

Organizations without a strong change management program too often see resources wasted, productivity stifled, revenue lost and inefficiencies permeating the entire organization — and as change continues to happen, these problems only get worse.

Addressing a misconception

I think that oftentimes, these problems result from a fundamental misconception about what change management actually is. Many are hesitant to spend money on something they see as only being good for training and not providing much revenue in return. But change management is so much more than that. When done effectively, a change management plan should, as much as possible, be tied to ROI. A strong change management plan will examine performance baselines and a roadmap to get there with actual, definable metrics.

That’s what you should demand out of any change management plan. Because even a small change can mean a great deal to your business — so it pays to get it right.

Are you ready to implement a change management plan?

Working with a trusted partner can mean a huge difference for your organization. View our consulting services

Karen is experienced in driving end-user adoption in support of customer business process and technology changes. Henry is a certified change management practitioner who implements sustainable and continuous change management programs and solutions within the retail, healthcare and hospitality industries. She is a Prosci Certified Change Management Practitioner (CCMP).

Karen Henry

Principal Consultant for Ricoh USA, Inc.’s Consulting Services Organizational Agility group

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