Category Archives: Change Readiness

Why Change Management Fails

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When organizations go about changing, the hardest work is almost always related to people. Getting people ready, willing and able to work differently is easier said than done. Defining a vision is important. But translating that vision into real change is an entirely different challenge that is where the rubber really meets the road.

Too often, we see well-meaning change management programs fail. A successful change management program ensures that a few critical things necessary to change an organization are in place.

First and foremost, successful change management ensures that there is active and visible sponsorship. That means leaders are engaged in the change in a way that people can actually see. Among other things, leaders need to be present (literally and figuratively) at key meetings, say the right things at the right times, prioritize meetings with project team members, ask informed questions about the change and make efforts to be available for informal conversations.

Second, successful change management ensures frequent and open communications about why the change is needed. People understand why the change is important and how the company, customers, and they themselves will benefit. Effective communication requires repetition, consistency, and transparency. Appealing to both the head and the heart helps too. A need that can be felt emotionally rather than just understood logically is more apt to spur action.hqdefault

Third, successful change management ensures a structured approach to managing the people elements of the transition. There are periods of assessing the impacted stakeholders and potential areas of resistance. There is an understanding of how to manage the individual transition that people will experience. There is an approach or methodology that provides a means for planning the work and carrying out the change management activities. And the approach includes work to help reinforce and sustain the new behaviors after the change is initially implemented.

Lastly, successful change management ensures that there are dedicated resources to manage the change. What projects succeed without people focused on getting it done? Dedicated resources and funding for managing the people elements of the change ensure that the work is the primary focus for some person or group of people. When the organizational change elements of a project are left to the project team without any specific focused resources, it is understandable that they fall to the bottom of the priority list.

Knowing these critical success factors for change management is the first step in actually putting those things into place so that a change management program can thrive in your organization.

The DO Phase – Executing Your Plan

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By: Annie Ayvazian
Once you have assessed needs and developed a change management plan, you are prepared to execute that plan. This involves developing your communication materials and preparing your organization to transition to the future state.
The “do” phase consists of 2 key activities: (1) launch communications and (2) transition work.

1. Launching communications: Now that you have developed your communication plan, it’s time to prepare content and materials to ensure people understand the project and why it’s important. This includes crystalizing key messages into an elevator speech, developing a communications network to champion the change, and providing answers to frequently asked questions.

2. Transitioning work: To effectively transition work, you need to identify the key activities required to implement the change successfully. This includes assessing readiness, defining training needs, and developing a workforce transition plan to prepare people for the new work and new skills required in the future state.

A Few Change Guides Tools – Click on the icon to see the tools.


Why is the “Do” Phase So Important?
The “do” phase is the phase where your planning turns to action and where you connect with the stakeholders who are impacted by your project. By crafting and communicating your key messages and determining the activities needed to transition work, you are preparing your organization to implement change successfully.

The PLAN Phase – A Critical Roadmap to Success

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by Shannon Stautberg
Every successful project starts with a common factor – a plan. Whether it’s the construction of a new house, the implementation of an enterprise-wide system or the creation of a piece of art, a plan is critical to a project’s success. The same is true for projects that involve change management. Getting people ready, willing and able to work in new ways requires a plan.

Planning change management activities requires you to do two things: (1) assess your needs and (2) develop a plan.

1. Assessing Needs: Identifying stakeholders, evaluating if leaders are aligned around a common vision and estimating how much effort will be required to help people understand and adopt a change are necessary to steps in defining the change management activities that should occur.

2. Developing a Plan: Developing a change management plan requires you to map out communications, leadership involvement and workforce transition activities. An effective plan also identifies who will perform these activities and when they should occur.

A Few Change Guides Planning Tools
Click on the icon below to see two of our frequently used “Planning” tools.

Plan Pie Highlighted

The Stakeholder Analysis defines the people who are critical to a successful change and
assesses their current and desired levels of support.

The Change Management Workplan lists the change management activities, estimating effort required and tracking progress.


Why is “Planning” So Important?

All too often, people make the mistake of skipping the “plan” phase. Instead, they jump feet first into doing the work they think should be done to get people on board with a change. While taking the time to engage in thoughtful planning does take time and resources, creating a plan is much more than an exercise. It’s the tactical road map to achieving the ultimate vision and goals of the project. Without a plan, you’re more likely to hit roadblocks and unnecessary detours. Don’t take shortcuts…take the time to plan!

Curious About What CCMP Is?

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CCMP. What do these letters mean and why should you care? CCMP stands for Certified Change Management Professional. The Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) has been working hard to develop industry recognized certification programs. The CCMP designation is the first in a series of change management certifications to recognize the accomplishments of change professionals around the world.

Starting on May 15, 2016, CCMP will be available to everyone for application. You can go to to find out more about CCMP.

Why are we doing this? In a recent profession-wide survey on the future of Change Management we asked: “What additional professional development could you use…?”
“A global, credible, consistent method for certifying change professionals.”
“An accepted certification process … that is recognized as legitimate.”
“…a certification to help organizations assess who is qualified to be a change practitioner.”

In response, development began on the CCMP program which will:

• Be globally recognized across countries and industries
• Enable change management practitioners to demonstrate they have met specified criteria and achieved a level of understanding of and familiarity with change management standard practice
• Support organizations in establishing good change management practice through improved recruitment and clear career development paths for change management practitioners
• Advance change management as a profession by clarifying the distinctive nature and value of the change practitioner role

Training and CCMP481c16f8-593c-45fc-9866-55f282b31848

• CCMP is not a training program itself, nor does it or ACMP offer training. The training you take to fulfill the required 21 hours is up to you. Any instructor-led (classroom or online) change management training that aligns with The Standard will fulfill this requirement. To help you identify courses that meet the requirements, ACMP developed the Qualified Education Provider (QEP) program (click Find Courses in the bottom right). The courses listed have been ‘pre-qualified’ as aligned with The Standard and they count towards the 21 hours you need.

• If you took training with a provider which is not a QEP it may still qualify. In the CCMP application you will be asked to submit a description of the course with an outline and learning objectives so ACMP can evaluate the fit between the content and The Standard. If you are unsure whether it will be a match, download and review The Standard and conduct a comparison to determine if the course content is aligned with the five process groups.



Let Us Tell You a Story

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by Beckie Schretter and Gina Giannitelli
Carol, an employee with over 30 years of service, deeply loves her work and truly wants what is best for her organization. She believes in the mission and values of the organization and has deep connections with the patrons. The director, Bob, was hired several years ago to help increase profitability, but hasn’t been successful. When Bob presents a new revenue creation idea to board leadership, Carol publicly questions the mission and vision alignment of the idea. A few months later Carol is called into Bob’s office and is handed a letter explaining her
position is being eliminated due to financial pressures. She feels deeply betrayed, angry and concerned for the organization she loves. Bob avoids Carol in the days that follow. She grapples with whether she is the victim of retribution. She decides to write a letter to the board…

Are you wondering or even making up how this story ends?

At the ACMP conference, storytelling was a theme throughout book pictureseveral presentations. Research
shows you use more of your brain when listening to a story, far more than when you listen to a
slide presentation or read a written communication. As Susan Weinschenk Ph.D. describes “…
because you are having a richer brain event, you enjoy the experience more, understand the information more deeply, and retain it longer.” How can we use stories in change?

Use them to create the case for change, connecting the head and the heart. Stories provide a refreshing break from data filled presentations or memos. Research by Paul Zak shows stories create a tension that sustains attention, which leads to shared emotions. Shared emotions lead to mimicked feelings and an increased trust and willingness to take action.

Recognize and challenge stakeholder stories throughout the process. Researcher Brene Brown reminds us stakeholders create stories that drive behavior. She observed “the brain needs to know the story” and fills in needed details. Resilience is enhanced when people challenge the
truth of their own storytelling.

Storytelling inspires change and helps people move up the commitment curve. When preparing the case for change or drafting a stakeholder communication, consider what story could illustrate the point and grab attention. When leaders are reluctant to share information, remind them people will fill in the blanks with their own stories. When confronted with counterproductive behavior, ask questions and challenge the story driving that behavior. What is the story behind your change?

Tips for Creating a Change Capable Culture

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by Shannon Stautberg

While change is hard for any organization, investing time and energy into thoughtfully creating a change capable culture will help ensure your people are prepared to successfully transition to new ways of working. Some tactical things you can do to help ensure your organization is on the path to being change capable are below.

 Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Establishing regular and meaningful communication helps employees know what’s coming, why it’s coming and how it might impact them. A lack of communication can breakdown employee trust, reducing the likelihood that they will get on board with any change. Electronic newsletters, posting current information on office bulletin boards and hosting question & answer coffees with leadership are some of the ways you can keep the lines of communication open with your employees.

 Define and Communicate Roles and Responsibilities: People need to know what they are supposed to be doing before, during and (ideally) after the change. If one or more of your employees is unclear about what they are expected to do on a daily basis, this can quickly lead to frustration…frustration that can spread throughout an office like wildfire! Nip that frustration in the bud by ensuring each employee has been given a job description and that their direct boss regularly checks in with them to address questions or concerns regarding their role or responsibilities.

 Encourage Employee Collaboration: Establishing a culture that values collaboration as one of its hallmarks will help ensure your employees are open to and prepared for change. One of the ways this can be done is by establishing a well-structured mentor program that allows experienced team members to informally share lessons-learned with colleagues that are new to the team. Regularly recognizing employees that have effectively worked together to complete important projects or tasks is another way to promote ongoing collaboration. This can be done at team meetings or via organization newsletters.

 Build Trust by Caring for the Individual: One of the keystones to creating a change capable culture is trust in management. Leaders that sincerely care about the professional success and personal well being of their employees are much more likely to earn the trust of their employees. In addition to praising a job well done, it’s also important for management to get to know their team members – their aspirations, passions and interests. Being flexible with employee needs outside of the office, while still meeting the needs of the business, can make your team more likely to be there when you need them to go the extra mile at the office. The occasional bagels, donuts for the department can also help build good will. Employees that trust management are much more likely to be ready, willing and able to embrace the change that lies ahead.

While building a change capable culture does take time and effort, the return on that investment will be clear in times of change.

Oh How Organizational Change Management Has Changed…

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Some of the core ideas about human behavior that shape the field of Change Management have been around for over 50 years. But the field itself is relatively young. In the last 20 years, the field has grown and changed tremendously and more is yet to come.

In the mid-90’s, when many of us at Change Guides were just getting our start, big consulting firms like Deloitte Consulting and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) created Change Management methodologies for the first time. Practitioners read John Kotter and Daryl Conner (ok, so some things haven’t changed) but generally, available resources were limited. There was a lot of experimentation – what works and what doesn’t?

In 2005 when Change Guides formed, experimentation led to best practices and we published the first accessible methodology and toolkit focused on Change Management (The Change Management Pocket Guide, First Edition on Today, ten years after the start of Change Guides, we see a Pocket-2nddifferent landscape in terms of demand, advocacy and available resources.

Demand and advocacy
Then: We heard “what do you do?” Change Management Consulting and Training could be a hard sell. Change Management wasn’t in project budgets. Project or operational managers weren’t sure how the work that change management consultants differed from the work of project consultants. As a company whose sole business is Change Management, we were advocates and educators first. We had to teach our customers what deliverables and outcomes resulted from Change Management work and training.

Now: We hear, “we need Change Management on this project.” We’ve had repeat clients for years and we add new clients annually. Once companies experience what skilled Change Management resources do, the tides turn. Internally, business leaders advocate for Change Management resources. They advocate to develop skills internally and they set aside budget to fund external experts to help the overall effort.

Available Resources
Then: Information was out there, but it was not ubiquitous. Knowledge sharing was organic and informal. We talked face to face with colleagues about what they did, what worked and what didn’t. We listened, adapted, tried, sometimes failed but mostly succeeded in improving project outcomes.

As consultants solely focused on Change Management, we were an anomaly. Clients never had internal change management resources. There were no CMOs (Change Management Offices). There were no Chief Change Officers, no certified change management professionals. There were no Change Management Workstreams in projects (unless we were there to add them).

CG-Web-IconNow: Knowledge is readily shared in the form of books, eBooks, LinkedIn groups, Blogs, YouTube videos, Change Management certifications (like our very own Change Guides Change Management Certification) and Change Management apps like our free Change Readiness Audit (add links). More consultants are dedicated to the field of Change Management as seen by the growth of the Association for Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and the Change Management Institute (CMI).

Clients build internal competencies and centers of excellence (COEs) in managing change with leaders and internal subject matter experts (SMEs). They demand more from their partner consulting and training firms. They need external resources that partner with internal SMEs, help develop their internal competency and provide a higher level of experience and expertise.

While Change Management has changed over the years, more is on the horizon. We know that the foundational truths like the ones captured in our second book, The Eight Constants of Change, still apply and probably always will. But we are always learning. The field will grow as experienced practitioners continue to learn and grow and feed that learning back into the field, as the Change Management research base grows, and as the workforce changes.

We are excited to continue leading the evolution of this important field. As Change Management work evolves, we predict that consultants will fall into two groups – Change Management Generalists and Change Management Specialist Experts. Generalist positions will exist internally and at consulting firms whose core competency is something other than Change Management (where Change Management is seen as an “add on” service). Firms like ours, who only do Change Management, will be hired as Specialist Experts to work with the Generalists. Whether our prediction about change management roles is correct or not, one prediction is certain… The field of Change Management will keep changing.

Have your own predictions? Join our LinkedIn Group  and let us all know what you think.

The Return on Investment for Change Management

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Our clients ask us all the time about the return on investment for time and money spent managing change. Studies conducted by McKinsey several years ago showed a correlation between successfully managing change and increased returns from the changes studied. But the study provided no clear formula or way of calculating the increased value of future changes. We know that the benefits of investing in change management come from increased speed of adoption, adoption rates, and the skills or abilities of people who will take on new ways of working. So we were wondering… how do you measure the return on the investment in change management?

We asked past Change Management Certification Participants the following questions about their return on change management investments.
How do you justify the use of change management on your projects?

Lots of respondents said that they basically don’t justify the use of change management on projects. For some, they don’t because they don’t need to. Their leadership teams just know intuitively that it helps. For others, their lack of justifying the use of change management is a problem that they are continuously battling when resistance to change management arises.

A few justify change management with surveys and sharing the successes of change management in previous projects.
Have you measured the return on investment for change management? If so, what did you measure in order to determine the ROI of change management?

Most of you haven’t measured the return on change management investments. For those that have, measuring productivity of the workforce before and after a change was suggested, along with measuring adoption rates and surveying people about their engagement in a new way of working.

Several folks commented on the “soft” or “intangible” benefits of change management and the difficulty in measuring it.

In which change management activities do you invest the most money?

The most common things noted were communications (planning, executing, and materials), bringing stakeholders together for communication and engagement, and training.
Thanks for those of you that shared your experiences with the ROI of change management. There is no formula that we can point to just yet. But if you are thinking about measuring the benefits of the change management work you are doing, look to the cost savings or benefits for the organization that result from: faster adoption of new ways, greater utilization of the change, and greater skill or ability to use the changes. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Our Change Management Pocket Guide is now an App!

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change-pocket-guide-app-iconMany of our customers have asked over the past year about offering our Change Management Pocket Guide as an eBook. We listened. Change Guides is very excited to introduce The Change Management Pocket Guide in a mobile App format!

Here is some information about our new App:

The Change Management Pocket Guide mobile application is a practical resource for anyone tasked with making change happen. The tactical, hands-on electronic pocket guide is a fully functioning and integrated mobile app solution for Android and Apple devices.

Like the hard copy book, the Change Management Pocket Guide app uses the Change Management 101 Model to step you through three major phases of managing change: Plan, Do and Sustain. These three major phases are broken down into the two specific stages as you move from one phase to the next. The tools in the Change Management Pocket Guide are used to interactively gather information, set milestones, and measure progress. There are over 30 valuable change management tools and templates that are integrated within the mobile solution so that they can be purchased, downloaded and easily customized to match the requirements of your specific change challenge. Each tool in the change toolbox is detailed, flexible and scalable.

Use the In-App purchase functionality to download the tools you need directly from the Change Management Pocket Guide and customize them for your project. Each downloadable tool has already been created in Word and Excel and can be used as they are explained in the Change Management Pocket Guide.

Overview of App Functionality

The Change Management Pocket Guide mobile app allows you to use the “tools for managing change” in an interactive and useful format. You can read and learn about the Change Management 101 Model™ and use the tools, answer key questions and build your own change management solution with an actionable plan for each change initiative you encounter. The mobile app is designed around the following functional areas:

  • PDF Reader format: A consistent format with the ability to search, bookmark pages and zoom in/zoom out
  • Integrated Change Pocket Guide companion templates: In-App purchase functionality for all Change Management Pocket Guide templates
  • In-App share integration using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

To Purchase the Change Management Pocket Guide App: Visit the App Store ( or the Play Store ( today to buy the app for your mobile device.

About the developer: Apptimize Group is a mobile application design and development company that creates general and enterprise internally deployed mobile client solutions. Our focus is to create simple and useful mobile apps that make for a memorable customer experience. For more information visit and contact John Gurnick at

Changing for the Workforce of the Future

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Can you imagine fully half of the people who work for your company being either contractors, temporary workers, or freelancers?  That may very well be the future we face.

A 2012 Economic Intelligence Unit Study shows that by the year 2030, 50% of the workforce will be made up of contingent workers.  The U.S. contingent workforce is made up of self-employed individuals, independent service firms, entrepreneurs and temporary workers. By 2020, 40 percent of American workers, or nearly 65 million people, will be contingent, and shortly thereafter that percentage is expected to rise to 50 percent.

Others confirm that the use of contingent workers is already on the rise, and will continue.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as reports from the Staffing Industry Analysts, a research and advisory firm focused on staffing and contingent labor, have demonstrated that the number of contingent workers has been increasing year over year for a few years.  And in June 2011, over 34% of the 2000 organizations surveyed by the McKinsey Global Institute said they plan to use more temporary labor in the next five years.

The trend is clear.  But are organizations ready for it?

Work in the future will be more collaborative, flexible, and goal oriented.  Temporary workers will need to be sharp, and stay sharp, to keep their jobs.  An organiztaion with more and more people flowing into and out of it will need to be radically different than today.

A current client of ours is working on a large project that requires a lot of consultants.  A full time staff person spends over 80% of her time giving out and tracking computers that are given to consultants.  Can you imagine if half of their workforce was contingent?  If the task of managing assets is so cumbersome now, the process and technology implications of a 50% contingent workforce would be astounding.

We have several large clients that are working on becoming more “digitally enabled” in order to meet the needs of their customers.  But with all we have heard from clients about embracing technology to meet the needs of future customers, we have not heard any talk at all about how to be more digitally enabled to meet the needs of their future workers.   The shift to more temporary workers will change how an organization works with its people in profound ways.

Current technology certainly makes workers more “plug and play” ready.  But it will need to make significant strides to meet the needs of a future more transient workforce.

Our clients will have to re-think how they manage people, how groups form and disband to tackle work, how people are on-boarded and rolled-off, how corporate cultures are built and maintained, how they attract and evaluate temporary workers.

They will also need to embrace technology and new digital technologies in an entirely new way. More digital maturity can help organizations build stronger connection to their staff… especially temporary staff.  Not only allowing access, but also targeting communication, facilitating relationships between roles, connecting people to other people and ideas.

Organizations that will win with workers of the future will be more mobile, and will be more agile by providing more personalized or customized needs for each temporary worker.  They will flex based on the work, the location, the worker, and the required interfaces with other people within the organization.

If you are thinking about where your organization will be in 20 years, think about your customers, your products, and your markets.  The demands they place on your organization will certainly challenge you to change.  But also think about your staff.  You might be surprised at the magnitude of change that meeting their unique needs challenges you to also.