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Bringing in the change

This checklist offers an easy walkthrough for bringing about transformational change in an organization

Transformation Program Expert

With 20 years of delivering change programs in one shape or another – from Digital Transformations to People, Processes, and Operations for Multi-National Corporations and smaller expanding firms; some of my best learnings came from my most challenging deliveries. Because I had a great mentor very early on in my career, I was told, “Always capture your lessons learned,” and so I did!

There are many frameworks on delivering Transformation Programs, and within each phase of the lifecycle, there are many more. No matter the size, domain, complexity, or time frame, this helicopter view of the subject will help you structure, prepare, execute and learn from any change program you undertake. The following will let you get the basics right, and then you can add the frills.

1) Mise En Place

This is a term I borrowed from the culinary world. It simply means the preparation of all your ingredients and dishes before cooking and serving.

In the Transformation world, this is a very relevant and essential step. How you prepare, and the level of detail you gather will make or break your program. Cooking the meal is the easy part, once you are well prepared.

2) How Do You Prepare?

Be obsessive about really understanding the What and the Why. Both are of equal importance as this will help you sell the benefits of successful delivery and highlight the costs of delays or non-delivery. Do not move on until you know the What and the Why inside out!

Once you have all your requirements and understanding locked in, have them validated and signed off by your sponsor and senior stakeholders. It is as important for the C-Suite (executive-level managers within a company) to sign off the What and Why because the execs will be the ones working with you on a daily basis till delivery. Also, you will feel confident that you are at least starting off in the right direction.

3) Choose The Right Framework

The Framework(s) you choose is key as the next Critical Success Factor. The Framework is the roadmap for success or failure. There are many structures, academic thoughts, and planning tools out there, so do not get hung up on choosing a fancy or shiny framework. You are there to plan and deliver; just ensure that whatever tools you have in your toolbox (experience, expertise, formal education, etc.) is fit for purpose, and you are not simply choosing an approach or formula because it is what you are comfortable with. Your framework has to be ‘Fit for Purpose’, not ‘Fit for You’. 

4) Set Up & Run Your Workshops

If you get your workshops right, you also get an instant buy-in to the program from your stakeholders, as they will support in the creation of the delivery plan. Whether they be virtual or face to face, you have to hold them. You cannot be the expert in every sector and domain, so get the experts in a room, have a screen set up for those that cannot attend in person. These days, there are many tools available that do not cost the earth, from Teams to Zoom.

In your kick-off workshop, make sure the sponsor and senior stakeholders attend, as this will give the program ‘gravitas’. It will highlight the importance of the Transformation. Have a clear and tight agenda to identify the risks and issues, doubt, concerns, revalidating the What and the Why, and the delivery timelines.  

In your kick-off workshop, make sure the sponsor and senior stakeholders attend, as this will give the program ‘gravitas’

5) Workshop Considerations

Agree on the delivery approach, will it be a big bang approach or phased. If phased, what will the order be and why. Identify the communication cycles during the phases or before the delivery. If there is no comms department, who will own the communication?

How often will the steering group (the sponsor and senior stakeholders that make decisions on the way forward, delays or issues) meet? What working groups need to be set up? How often should they meet?

(The working group feed the outcomes to the steering group and are the ones on the front line ensuring progress and delivery throughout the program’s lifecycle).

These are just some of the considerations; you will have many more.

6) Meticulously Create Your Delivery Plan

The Delivery Plan should be a clear and concise document that allows all the stakeholders to see and understand precisely what will happen, when, by whom, the resources required, the assumptions made. E.g., you will be given X number of days of subject matter expert’s time; any requests for testing or clarification on issues must be addressed in X working days and so on. Don’t forget to version control everything too!

In your Mise En Place, also identify the specialist expertise you may need. Does the company have experts in ERP, CRM, or system development? Will you need to bring in outside resources? This must also be identified and signed off before you start cooking your meal.

7) Document Control

Though it seems basic and obvious, so many people jump this step. During the lifecycle of any change program, there will be a lot of information and documents floating around; put in place your folders to store all your plans, risks, issues logs, feedback, and whatever control and governance documents you may produce.

Having these will allow you to keep control of the program, and it will enable you to capture all the great lessons learned. You can later give this to the company if you are a consultant, as well as use it for your own continuous improvement.

8) Deliver

Stick to the script, but be agile enough to adapt and amend plans without impacting the Transformation benefits. Protect your planned progress meetings and always have clear, open communication channels with all your stakeholders. Like in life, the better your relationships are, the more open and supportive your relationships will be. So be open, transparent, respectful of everyone, and build strong relationships. This, too, is a critical success factor.

In conclusion, there is no ‘one size fits all’ in the delivery of any Transformation. However, the above points will go a long way towards not only managing an excellent delivery but will also ease the curve balls that come your way, because they will!

Adil Hosgor can be reached at [email protected]

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