Setting the Guidance System for a Change Management Team

December 14, 2017

Change management team

One major reason change initiatives fail is that change leaders do not assess the impact of the initiative on the people who will be most affected by it. To avoid this outcome, the change management team needs to set its own guidance system before embarking on a stakeholder analysis.

Leading change in the workplace through a change management plan

Every change management team must conduct a thorough stakeholder mapping and analysis. This process is key to planning and managing a change initiative. But to begin the fundamental analysis, the change management team needs to take stock of its own understanding and agreement regarding its role, directive, and approach to change. The analysis can then be extended to “external” stakeholders.

As an example, at the advent of a large-scale “evolutionary change” project, our change management team at AMA set out to analyze and clarify our directive and establish a guidance system for ourselves. By developing a common understanding of our platform, we could then focus on the external system with a unified approach and message. And by investing time in developing our framework before we jumped ahead to analyze the stakeholder landscape, we could reduce confusion about the objectives of our change management team. We could also gain information needed to lessen the risk of rework, enabling our team to get it right the first time.

Creating a change management team’s guidance system

Many great tools are available for stakeholder management in the official project-charter process, but few templates existed for our team’s agreement process that wouldn’t overwhelm us with details. We needed a “change management lite” approach that would illustrate the focus of our change management team and educate others (organizational leaders and work groups) by revealing our direction.

Our solution was to produce a series of key questions to be addressed through a self-analysis and to develop a PowerPoint® revealing the answers. The elements included:

  • The overarching, stated purpose of the project
  • The change management team’s project purpose and outcomes
  • Our approach to managing the project
  • Our observation regarding the scope and involvement of key people and/or divisions
  • A current state analysis (summarized)
  • Future state outcomes and related opportunities
  • Customer needs: We know who our stakeholders are, what they require, and the CTQs (critical to quality) parameters
  • Goals and deliverable(s): We have identified specific, measurable, and prioritized project goals and deliverables linked to our project goals
  • Project scope definition: We understand and agree on what is in and out of our project scope and tasks. The project scope is “set,” with a scope tracking document
  • Roles, responsibility, authority, autonomy: We have defined and agreed upon roles, responsibilities, and resources for the project team. Our team understands the degree of authority and empowerment we have to meet our project mission, leveraging the RACI Chart tool.
  • Project plan, including:
    Critical success factors: We know and are focusing on the key factors needed to meet the project goals and mission
    Plans and activities: We have an effective game plan to follow that includes the right tasks, clearly defined and assigned
    Monitoring and measures: We have an effective monitoring process and specific metrics linked to progress and goals
    Scheduling: We have defined our project schedule, including the key phases and milestones, with a project plan example
  • Change management team operating agreement: We have shared expectations as well as agreed-upon and followed guidelines for how our team works and communicates
  • Interpersonal and team, including:
    Internal: We have the necessary relationships, trust, openness, participation, and behaviors for a healthy and productive team. We have an effective game plan to follow that includes the right tasks, clearly defined and assigned.
    External: We have the necessary relationships, trust, openness, participation, and behaviors for healthy and productive interactions with key internal and external stakeholders as well as effective relationship/partnering routines. We have an effective stakeholder engagement plan.
  • Key elements of managing change in our project and drumbeat messages

Extending the change management team’s effort

Our change management team got a lot of mileage from this effort. The guidelines we clarified for ourselves and prepared as a set of unified talking points became a simple but robust tool that helped us set expectations for the initial launch rounds with stakeholders. We used the PowerPoint content to frame and ask the right questions of them, increasing confidence and credibility in our approaches. It also became our change management team’s communication tool within the organization.

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About The Author

Christine Giugni is a learning solutions manager for American Management Association’s seminars on strategic agility and execution, change management, and the fundamental “thinking” skills line. She has been with AMA for over four years and has nearly 20 years of professional organizational development experience, guiding and supporting Fortune 500 clients globally with their learning and development needs. As an expert in the L&D field, she also serves as a dedicated talent development solutions manager for AMA’s private client business.


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