A significant challenge that Change Management practitioners face is how to quantify what they do. As recently as a few years ago, managing change was considered to be abstract and because of that practitioners struggled to sell their services. Today however, Change Management has seen an upsurge in popularity because companies understand that it works, but practitioners are still grappling with selling their services. Why?
I recently facilitated a change management workshop for a group of 40 consultants and the first question I asked them was to come up with a definition of change management. What I heard from this group echoes what I have heard throughout many years of consulting – people tend to have two types of definitions. One is a very long complicated definition often incorporating a number of buzz words around change and then listing off the tools that are used to manage change in an attempt to quantify what they do. The other common definition is to simply refer to it as a communication plan, or stakeholder analysis, which are tools used, but not the entire process of managing change. Both of these miss the mark and end up causing confusion.
In order to quantify change management, you need to first understand the fundamental goals of managing change:
- Reduce the time. Every project has a deadline and the more complicated it gets; the more time it will take. A Change Manager’s goal is to reduce the amount of time needed to execute a project.
- Reduce the pain. Change registers as pain in the brain and a Change Manager’s goal is to minimize the pain for everyone involved.
- Sustain the change. Effective change management practices will not only help bring people through the journey of navigating change, it also helps them adopt the new way and ensure the change efforts are maintained.
That’s it, the simple definition of change management is to – reduce time, reduce pain and sustain the change. The job of a Change Manager is to engage good change management practices to help keep projects in a reasonable timeframe, to minimize the pain of the change for everyone involved, and to ensure the change is sustained.
Just like a homebuilder who explains his goals with a blueprint but does not outline every tool it will take to get there, customers can become overwhelmed when presented with complicated plans and lists of unfamiliar tools. As a change professional, you have a number of templates, tools and methodologies readily available to help you quantify change and attain your goal. Trust that in the end, the tools will quantify your work, and in the meantime stick to quantifying change simply.
If interested in learning more about change management, please see our Change Management Certification course.