Don't Forget the People Side of Change

For some, the word "change" is invigorating -- filled with opportunity; for others it's something to be avoided at all costs.  Dictionary.com states that it's anything from "to make the form, nature... different"; "substitute"; "give and take" to"transform".*

As a management consultant, a lasting positive and profitable transformation of a client's organization is my main priority with every project.  This typically includes selling more goods and services more profitably, and should include improved experiences for the client's customers and internal team.

Planning is of course an important part of these engagements.  We must anticipate the gaps between the current state and the desired future outcome.  No matter how small or large the project, we must consider two sides of the change equation: technical and people.

It is unfortunately all too common to focus on the technical side, forgetting the human element required for successful change.  Let's use an example of building an e-commerce site for a client which has never before used an online business channel:  Simply creating a project plan, implementing it and running through the testing with a demo is not sufficient.  The technical side may work, but the people side will suffer.  So we must also understand how the team takes and processes orders, who is involved in each state, when each step must occur and and where the important information lives.  Then we compare the former process to the new in order to create a change management plan including coaching, follow up and point persons.

You can imagine how a change management plan intensifies when ours is a project covering the entire business side of the operation given the number of people and functions involved.  The scope is much broader, but our process stays the same.

* When speaking with potential clients, assessing how they view change is critical to the potential success of a project together.  Just as with any fitness regimen or new habit, we have to be ready and committed or the effort will not work.  So we only enter into client agreements when we are confident that the outcome will be a successful one.

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