Publication

Change Management

08.10.2019

How companies can save failing projects

Whether it is an internal restructuring or an external invitation to a pitch: When there are important projects or changes that are imminent, the affected employees often become uneasy and nervous. Purpose Workshops can be used as an effective change management tool to offer employees a sense of direction.

Most are probably familiar with this situation: People are nervous on their first day of work, but often try to hide it. Similar feelings occur at the beginning of change initiatives, where roadblocks and delays are not uncommon due to rushed kickoffs and lack of planning.

The result: project participants lack focus and clarity on the project deliverables or the bigger picture. There may be no common vision or concrete objectives, i.e. the Case for Change.

So why is having a Case for Change so important? It combines both rational and emotional views and creates one common objective with a crystalized understanding for the change project.  This will promote more effective implementation of the change project While highlighting the reasons for the change initiative in detail. In a way, the case for change provides clear direction and guidance to navigate team members through the change journey while preparing them for the specific changes that will occur in their daily work.

Two Common Scenarios

Scenario 1

The company is undergoing a reorganization. The entire IT department is meant to be restructured, and a portion will be outsourced. The restructuring project has already been in place for some months, but as the implementation date moves closer, chaos becomes more and more the norm. The project becomes increasingly difficult to coordinate as team members are conflicted about the ultimate objective and practical purpose of the change.

Scenario 2

The company is in high spirits: A well-known customer is interested in the services and invites the company to submit a pitch. The entire team is highly motivated and interested in contributing to the pitch, however, after a few days pass, they begin to lose their focus and pursue conflicting objectives without a common sense of direction.

The Case for Change

These Scenarios are not uncommon, but how do we solve them? It may seem cliché, but we solve them by focusing on the basics. At the heart of all change efforts is a compelling story with a logical “Why”, i.e. the Case for Change: which includes three critical elements:

Purpose

The purpose identifies the reason for the change. It depicts the reasons and the target state with a brief description. It is an inspiring and motivating statement that describes the reasons for the change in one to three sentences that answer four key questions: “Who, What, Why and How”.

Change Story

The Change Story identifies the path to change. It describes, in a detailed and structured manner, why the status-quo is no longer satisfactory, what needs to change and how the target state is supposed to be achieved. The most important component of the Change Story answers the question, “how will this change affect me personally?”, The Change Story acts as a compass for the entire team to maintain motivation and focus.

Key Messages

Communication is extremely important, and consistent messaging is key to clear and concise communication.  Having a change story is important, and every communication to the team and stakeholders will require some due diligence and careful planning.  The benefits of a well thought out communication plan are many, so skipping this element is not an option.

The method: The Purpose Workshop

A Purpose Workshop will lay the foundation for three elements of the Case for Change. It typically includes  a two-day workshop for all stakeholders who are affected by the project, and includes moderators and technical experts from Campana & Schott. The main goal is to determine the purpose for the change in four simple steps. The current state, the future state, as well as the specific measures that are required to achieve the desired outcome are all discussed and subsequently distilled into the key points.

The discussion focuses on the employee’s perspective, who will need to make changes, how will the changes be implemented, and what will it mean for me specifically (WIFFM = What’s In It Form Me?).   In subsequent iterations, the key messages from the Purpose Workshop are refined, added to the Change Story and finally communicated to everyone.

Two full days to write one to three sentences on a flip chart may sound like a lot of unnecessary work. However, this is about much more than merely developing the purpose. The Purpose Workshop comes with the following additional advantages:

  • With the help of moderators from Campana & Schott, the key stakeholders that are directly involved in the change are encouraged to discuss the project and the potential implications to contribute to key messages that are later used to ensure consistent and effective communications. 
  • The team is gathered without regard for position or levels to ensure that a diverse perspective is heard and understood.
  • At the conclusion of the two-day workshop, the entire team will leave aligned with a common purpose and inspired to achieve great things.
  • The Purpose Workshop can replace the kick-off workshop for a project. It serves as the necessary foundational element for project initiation and creates a cohesive group that understands each other, roles and responsibilities as well as expected outcomes. 

Even if your project has already started, you can still benefit from conducting a purpose workshop to reinvigorate your team and motivate them to work together in a synergistic way to accelerate project completion and success. In fact, if you decide to conduct a Purpose Workshop after the start of a project, the benefits can be substantial:

  • ... finding solutions for challenges that seem to be stagnating.
  • ... developing a new team spirit in the project team.
  • ... identifying conflicts that hinder the success of the project.
  • ... validating whether the objective and the direction have changed in the meantime, and whether the compass must be realigned.
  • ... Understanding new and evolved perspectives to re-align team members that are challenged by the changes.
Change Management

Conclusion

The Case for Change forms part of Campana & Schott’s extensive change management framework. It forms for the basis for all change management activities in both small and large transformation projects. The Case for Change includes a coherent Change Story, the purpose and the related key messaging. These elements are vital components for acceptance of the change. Therefore, every project should start with a Purpose Workshop in order to define a coherent Case for Change that significantly contributes to the successful implementation of the project.