Change is inevitable.
Change is the only constant thing in life.
Changing ourselves, we change the world for good.
Many phrases are pointing to the importance of change who have found their place in our life. People talk about evolution with passion, and then initiatives for change are falling.
In 2020 Harvard Review published a short study on the number of change initiatives that succeed, and this number was scary. Only thirty-six percent of all change initiatives reach their end, and only twenty-seven percent of all industries for change achieve their goals.
While these numbers are not pleasant, leaders need more changes to help their companies and teams survive in the new normal and the fast-paced world we live in.
Complex analysis, changing strategies, evolving structures, and “flexible elements” have become natural for us. But still, after so many technologies were invented, the benefit of change misses the main point, how to use this change is for the company and the team implementing it.
Leaders need to see numbers, but they often miss the value that change can offer for the broader organization. While missing some not so numbers-driven categories to assess, change is hardly happening in many companies and teams that most need it.
A very wise guy I met more than fifteen years ago taught me how to analyze if I need the change. Down are the three lessons I have learned and am using today, and that helps me more than ninety-five percent of my change initiatives to happen and add benefits for me, my team, and our company.
Lesson 1: Cost benefits analysis
The change is nothing if you cannot compare it with the company’s potential benefits. There is nothing wrong with spending more than the budget you have allocated on a change initiative, but it won’t be pleasant if you invest the resources to understand that the result is not what you expect it to be.
Back in 2018, I have had to decide on a project for digitalizing the whole training concept at my employer. We had a positive conversation with the company owner; I received the so needed confirmation for the idea, to get back to the owner two weeks later and say that there is no time to start such a project. Why have I reacted that way? Simple – I saw how unprepared my team and I are for bringing an interactive digitalized platform to life. Almost seventy percent of the content was not prepared, from which seventy percent eighty percent were still in progress to be structured. People were teaching on approved documents – procedures and instructions, but no one has made an effort to organize the content into a systemized library. The attempt to make the project happen insisted that we involve four times more resources than we have planned, and the time to finish the project extended from six months to more than eighteen months. At that moment, the task for digitalized library looked more like a black hole with no real benefits in short and midterms. When making the calculations again, we divided the project into three phases. At the beginning of 2021, we already had the system and the library. I do not say that to have to quit every project that does not look OK at the moment, but if you cannot calculate the more significant win for everyone in the short or mid-term, then you better move with small steps forward by investing the right amount of resources on each stage.
Lesson 2: Value for the organization
No matter the cost-benefit analysis, you’ll need to learn the VALUE lesson. We do most of the things we do because we see value for ourselves. The point of the second lesson is to come out from the comfort zone you want to create around you and see the bigger picture. A project or a change initiative may look great for you, but if the organization has not seen it the same way, the impact from that change may be seen as insignificant compared to the resources invested. To benefit from your idea or project, you will need to work with the leadership team and ensure that they understand, accept and support the change or the project. Providing that level of commitment helps the organization slowly understand the value that the idea or the project will bring for it after being executed and finished.
It is crucial for the change you want to distribute to “sell” it as something meaningful and valuable to the right people. That will ensure ongoing support and broader acceptance for what you have planned and think can benefit the company and the team.
Lesson 3: Organizational fit
Have you ever heard the phrase: “The company X is doing that for its employees. We should start doing it for ours.” It is a nice phrase, and at the same time, so desperately wrong. Now ask yourself, have you ever heard that the company you want to copy has copied something in the same way from another company. Many factors can tell if something is good or not for a particular company. What you want to implement must answer your unique needs as a company and respond to the culture spread across the company. Not anything you see somewhere is a good fit for your company. For example, additional payments are a good stimulus when you have a culture supporting people to work more than usual. But if your company does not value the overtime, then the benefit of the additional payment for it is not a real benefit but a stressor to allow your team to earn more money.
The change you want to implement must answer to the company-specific cultural model. Then and only then it will bring real value to the company staff and will make everyone happy.
We often start change because we think that the shift is obligatory if we want to move forward. But no matter what we plan, not aligning it with the company-specific structure and culture and not having enough value to show for everyone is a sign of an actual failure.