Project & Change Series Part 2: An Organisational Change Management View

Part 2 of our discussion series looking at the traditional roles of the Project Manager, Change Manager, related BAU functions, and how these roles integrate... Paul Jenkinson presents an Organisational Change Management (OCM) view.

©iStock.com/Luckeyman 

©iStock.com/Luckeyman 

Missed Part 1? Click here - Will your existing project delivery structure remain relevant in a world of hyper-connectivity and constant technology change?

I have a university-aged nephew who does not use email but is all over social media. He engages, communicates and learns remotely via sound bites, videos and images... when I was first at University in the early nineties we delivered our work on paper! His parents, however, prefer to engage, communicate and learn via predominantly face-to-face channels – actually talking to people!

These examples represent ends of the typical spectrum of demographics and the technology relationships that exist in organisations today. Both of these ‘personas’, and all the ones in between, present organisations with some common challenges. For example, how do you maximise the reach and impact of your engagement and communications activities? One size clearly does not fit all…

The digital and technology evolution is well and truly here: big data, cloud, BYOD, mobility, intelligence everywhere, IoT, applications integration and immersive technologies (to name but a sample) are all in varying states of maturity.

What is beyond question is that the scale and pace of digital and technology change is ever increasing. My colleague Sean Matheson has recently written about this topic - Hyperconnectivity: The Future of Business Technology

Common Change Issues

I have been in the consulting industry for nearly 20 years. Over that time I have been a Business Analyst, Change Analyst, Communications Manager, Change Manager, Project Manager and Program Manager. I have worked across a range of industries and for several of Australia’s largest organisations either in an advisory capacity or on technology-related project implementation.

My experience has been that most organisations suffer from similar issues when it comes to delivering change, namely (in no particular order):

  • ROI and benefits are rarely tracked, and if they are, they often fall short on business case estimations. Investment and risk management of what is often a substantial discretionary spend is alarmingly bad.
  • The maturity of the governance processes over projects, programs and portfolios is inconsistent.
  • Internal politics and culture (explicit and implicit) always plays a significant role in the behavioural outcomes associated with any change.
  • The primary KPI for most projects, and most PM’s, is budget, therefore other KPIs (scope, time, quality, benefits, ROI and behaviour / culture) often suffer at the hands of maintaining budget regardless of the impact this has on expected outcomes.
  • Leadership remains a significant driver that is often sub-optimal, but distributed leadership models (rare) are crucial to delivering sustainable change.
  • Investment in managing change is often an afterthought. When it is evident, it is usually not enough to do a great job and is easy to cut when under budget pressures.

So, we have a situation where most organisations face three discreet but inter-related issues:

1. Current delivery of projects (change) is typically sub optimal – whether viewed from a process / structure or results / outcomes perspective.

2. Today’s workforce and consumers have widely divergent engagement, communications and learning preferences.

3. The pace of digital and technology change is not going to slow.

The nexus between these issues is in the question “how well placed is my organisation to manage and thrive given these circumstances and what can be done to improve our chances?

My professional passion and the majority of my work experience is in the field of organisational change so I am biased in the way I think about these things and the potential solutions I see. For example, I view most technology based project implementations as a piece of change management, obvious exceptions being things like infrastructure or network upgrades that have minimal visible impact. I also view the three key issues highlighted above as inherently organisational change challenges.

I am continually amazed at the poor outcomes (ROI and benefits) many organisations accept from their project investments. I believe a part of the answer to this issue lies in modifying the related organisational structures. Improving the way organisations are structured to manage projects would also go at least part way to addressing the third issue around the ongoing evolution of technology. This evolution will require more investment in project-like mechanisms to maintain currency by delivering against consumer and employee demands.

Setting your Organisation Up for Success

Key considerations to set your organisation up for success include implementing:

  • Enterprise wide ROI / benefits accountabilities with KPIs against a range of key roles. Providing end-to-end management and oversight against enterprise wide project spend.
  • Ensuring that one person with appropriate business accountability for ROI / benefits is on the board / steering committee for each project and/or program.
  • Minimum investment thresholds for change management activities (includes L&D) set against defined criteria – i.e. an enterprise impact assessment of project type, scale, complexity and impact would trigger an OCM investment benchmark. For example, we commit to spending 10% of total project budget on OCM activities for projects assessed as medium, 15% for those assessed as high etc.
  • Redefining the role of the Change Manager (CM). The CM should be a peer to the Project Manager (PM) and report directly into the project governing body with a discreet OCM budget. This change would require CM’s to be accountable to the project governing body for ensuring benefits can be realised and ROI can be tracked alongside providing enterprise change strategy and advisory skills. Your CM’s may require capability uplift to fill this role.
  • Enterprise / portfolio / program and project analytical capabilities to enable accurate measurement of a range of indicators including: ROI, benefits, interdependencies, risks, transition schedules, change impacts, total spend versus project spend etc.
  • Multi-speed project delivery model encompassing three approaches – fail fast experimental initiatives, agile and waterfall.
  • BAU change capability and cross team clusters, see below, to absorb multi-speed project changes alongside driving BAU continuous improvement activities where relevant.

The remaining issue of persona preferences requires an understanding of your workforce and consumers (leveraging big data) and an investment in tailoring OCM activities (across both multi-speed projects and BAU) to best deliver related outcomes.

Emerging technologies will play a key role in harnessing the data required for such analysis and will play a role in delivering related outcomes. Ensuring you have the capabilities needed to leverage such technologies is another requirement. This may be best delivered through a cluster approach where a combination of BAU skills; for example, marketing, sales, HR, OCM, data modelling, user experience and design-centred thinking come together to deliver change in a better way.

Part three of this series will provide the Project Management perspective of project delivery structures in an increasingly hyper-connected world.