Identify the Change: Current, Desired, and Delta States
Let's take a look at the first step, identify the change. During this step we seek to define clearly the current state and why we must leave it. We also define the desired future state. Once they are defined, we can determine the gap between the states and design the delta state, the way to get from here to there.
Very often we assume that this step has been taken and that there is a uniform understanding of all three states throughout the organization. Odds are against us if we believe this. In most cases the desired state has been determined to some extent with the project requirements. The business case is built up with a cost/benefit analysis and the delta is defined through a project plan. It is the sponsor's role to ensure a clear vision.
Some or all of these definitions may be faulty. In most cases they are derived from a strategic business perspective, but not from the perspective of the people who will make it happen. All change consists of two major paths. They are the organizational (strategic) path and the individual path. For a change to be well implemented, these paths must be made to converge as quickly as possible.
For example, Ford has selected a business transformation to global competition. Every individual in Ford must reach the desired state with the skills, knowledge, behaviors, and beliefs that support the desired state. They must have total ownership of the processes that define the new way of doing work. They must want to be there.
Prepare to Change: Key Roles
During the next phase we look at the three key roles of the change process. They are sponsor, change agent, and target. Sponsors are often told that they are the agents of change. They are managing and causing the change. They certainly are actively altering the conditions to help create the desired state, but are they change agents? They, as we discovered above, are targets of change. But are they change agents?
Before we answer that question, let's look at the target issue. Targets are the individuals who must change during the delta in order to perform in the desired state. Everyone is a target from top to bottom and side to side. In most cases individuals do not realize that they are targets. This blinds them to the consequences. It blinds them to their target behaviors. Targets are uncomfortable with change. Targets fear change. This is normal. It has been demonstrated that many of our responses to change as a threat are processed in the limbic region of our brain. The responses are formed before and color our "objective" reasoning about the change conditions. This is a natural response. It is a "hard-wired response." It cannot be stopped. But it must be managed. Target behaviors are always very personal and often unspoken. This is why they are dangerous. If they are not surfaced they will continue to interfere with performance. The FPS project description at the beginning of this article outlines the scope of the impact on the targets. They also impact the sponsors of the change. Sponsors are targets!
Let's spend some time with the sponsors. Sponsors by definition come in two forms. They can be the authorizing sponsor or a reinforcing sponsor. Both have the authority, resources, and accountability to call for and support change. The authorizing sponsor by definition makes the decision to change and controls the funds and resources needed for the change to be successful. They are usually members of top management who have started the project and are responsible for funding it. Reinforcing sponsors are also members of management. Their role is to confirm the change and support the project out in the organization through personal intervention. You will see the sponsors on steering committees and management advisory groups and leading their individual departments, functions, or processes into the desired state.
Sponsorship in any form is often an uncomfortable place for management. Add to this the fact that they are also targets of the change and you have a set of conditions that can impair the project. One of our clients has a high-level executive as an authorizing sponsor for a complex organizational change. He performs a part of his role by attending a portion of our managed change seminars and explaining the desired state and why it is important to go there. He also explains that he is a sponsor, or rather a "sponsor in training." To illustrate this, he wears a t-shirt that was given to him by one of his employees. On the front of the shirt is the word SPONSOR. He will point to it and explain that he is doing the best he can to learn to be an effective sponsor. Then he turns around. On the back of the shirt is a target. He recognizes that he is, in fact, just as much a target as anyone else, and it affects his effectiveness as a sponsor. Team members cannot be change agents without effective sponsorship.
To start a comprehensive sponsorship plan, we must define the key roles. Identify the sponsors, identify the change agents, and identify the targets (everybody) through a key role map. This allows the team members to see the relationships between the sponsors, change agents, and team members. To further clarify these relationships, define the roles and responsibilities through charters for the various project roles. These charters may include the following:
• executive sponsor
• reinforcing sponsor
• steering committee
• implementation team
• change management team
• communications team
• learning team.
It is absolutely amazing how good sponsors feel when they have their roles and responsibilities defined.
To Be Continued