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Defining an Organizational Change Management Case for Change

Organizational change management (OCM) is the people side of organizational transformation. Companies tend to look at the technical side first because it’s often the part loudly calling for attention, but if they don’t address the human factor, chances of a successful transformation are limited.

On the most recent episode of Data Driven Leadership, I talk with host Jess Carter about all things OCM. A main point we discuss is that technology alone won’t solve a problem. Organizations engaged in a transformation need to bring the people impacted by the change along on the whole journey from the beginning. It’s not something that can happen at the end.

When we engage with clients, we first dive in to understand the people who will be affected by the transformation through a series of one-on-one interviews and qualitative or quantitative assessments. After we have clear understanding of the size, scope, and complexity of the change; the organizational culture and circumstances; and identification of key impacted stakeholders, we draft a case for change.

A case for change is concise documentation explaining key components about the change or transformational efforts to create a broad-based awareness and foundation for communication for the duration of change implementation and beyond. Usually, it’s high level, seeking to connect with the entire organization, region, or business unit.

The components of a case for change include:

  • What: The definition of the change
  • Why and Why Now: What triggered the change and why it needs to be done now
  • Current State Pain Points: What problems the organization or its stakeholders currently experience
  • Future State: The anticipated future state after the change is implemented
  • Anticipated Benefits: Representative benefits connecting to as many parts of the organization as possible

It’s important that organizations aren’t overly positive in communicating the case for change. They need to acknowledge that change is hard and there will be an adjustment period for all those impacted. It’s also important to communicate a commitment to supporting those impacted through the change with ongoing information, engagement in the process, and training so they can be successful in the new way of working.

We use the case for change to connect with different stakeholder groups in a more meaningful way: what pain points they currently experience, what part of the future state vision will impact the way they work, and what benefits they should expect to experience as a result of this change.

Ideally, a case for change fits on a single PowerPoint slide. That ensures the core elements are well summarized and gives consistent talking points. I joke that the organization should get sick of the slide because they see it so much that they can recite all the components. It takes seeing the slide between five to seven times before people really integrate the points.

Clearly communicating the case for change builds a unified understanding of the main aspects of the transformation among everyone impacted by it. It helps bring them along on the transition path from the beginning, which is essential for successful adoption.

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