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My article called 70% of Change Management Initiatives Fail–REALLY? has now hit over 5950 views along with 66 Likes and 21 Comments on LinkedIn.

In the main, this failure rate stems from none other than McKinsey and Company who since 2006 have surveyed some 6,800 “CEO’s and senior executives” who had experienced a significant performance transformation in the last 5 years.

Many have used this headline in a plethora of blogs, articles, and adverts, which have been used as a way for individuals and companies to generate business/sell their wares, be it consultancy services, seminars, workshops, etc.

In the article, I talk about how we measure success/failure in the context of change initiatives e.g.:

  • The traditional way … measure success/failure against your original Business Plan in which there should be clear and detailed Business Benefits.
  • Other ways…
    1. Measuring the relative contribution that change management provides to a project’s overall ROI, conducting an in-depth retrospective analysis of similar cases with like objectives to identify common investment criteria and parameters, measuring organizational readiness or agility for change.
    2. On time, on budget, all technical objectives met, all business objectives met, all human objectives met.

This has been the subject of many a previous debate here on LinkedIn, but, more importantly, I believe this should be an area of great interest to us “change practitioners,” because, in the face of the “70%” headline, we need to show how we add value and demonstrate we are actually good at what we do.

Interestingly, I recently found a blog from Prosci called Measurement to Determine the Return on Change Management, which kind of aligns to what I want to do. In it, their Chief Development Officer Tim Creasey and Master Instructor Scott Rossis discuss Prosci’s “Change Scorecard:”

So, what is it I want to do?

I want to see if there is enough interest in developing/participating in a survey to try and understand how “outcomes” (I call them that rather than focus on “success” or “failure”) are measured in the context of change initiatives.

Definition of an outcome:

  • Merriam Webster: something that happens as a result of an activity or process.
  • The Free Dictionary: something that follows from an action, dispute, situation, result, consequence.
  • Business Dictionary: determination and evaluation of the results of an activity, plan, process, or program and their comparison with the intended or projected results. THIS ONE DOES IT FOR ME!
  • Oxford Dictionaries: the way a thing turns out; a consequence.

The “doodle graphic” I have used at the top of this article is my initial attempt at some of the areas/questions that I think could be used as the basis of the survey, e.g.:

The left-hand side (1) being measurement related activity

  • Project Plan.
  • Measures Used.
  • Implementation Outcomes.

The right-hand side (2) being supporting activity:

  • Team Structure.
  • Governance Structure.
  • Type of Project.

Undoubtedly, there will be many others that I haven’t thought of.

The IBM Making Change Work Study actually do something similar every 3-years with input from some 1,500, what they call, “real life practitioners” such as:

  • Subject Matter Expert/Reviewer.
  • Project Team Member.
  • Change Manager.
  • Project Manager.
  • Initiator/Project Sponsor.

But, hey!, I am no McKinsey or IBM or Prosci and I would never ever deign to try and compete with those venerable institutions. I am a mere mortal that thinks a survey of this kind developed by practitioners with input from practitioners would be kind of cool to do. And, I do like to do something that is maybe just a little bit different!

So, what exactly is it I am after?

In the first instance, I would like some “virtual” volunteers to help me to determine the focus of the survey and its structure & content… between 5 and 10 should do it (I already have two). I did something like this a couple of years ago with another survey and it worked well; e.g., we exchanged information and ideas via e-mail and Skype and eventually reached a consensus on the final survey. There are some caveats to this:

  • The survey should be at a relatively simple level and not be overcomplicated.
  • Volunteers should come from the “change practitioner” community and be actively involved in delivering change on a day-to-day basis.
  • Anyone who volunteers should also take part in the survey.

My initial thoughts regarding the survey are:

  • How do we select survey participants e.g.:
    • There will already be those that respond to this article so “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush” but potentially that will not attract enough people to make the survey sample representative? So do we …
    1. Put out a generic “do you want to participate” request in LinkedIn “change” related Groups? And/or …
    2. Message LinkedIn 1st “change” connections asking them if they would like to participate?
  • How do we select on what basis we conduct the survey e.g.:
    • Do we ask participants to select a specific Programme/Project?
    • Do we ask people to suggest a number of Programmes/Projects in which they have been involved without letting us know the outcomes and then select one, some or all of them?
  • How do we survey?
    • Survey Monkey (I only have a basic account which limits me to 10 questions)?
    • Word?
    • Excel?
    • Other?
  • Length of survey e.g.:
    • Should it be ongoing?
    • Should there be a “please input before” date?

No doubt there will be many other considerations, but we can deal with these when the time is right.

I am not sure whether I am “biting off more than I can chew” but hey you never know until you try.

To volunteer, either contact me via LinkedIn (if you are a 1st connection),  register your interest by leaving an appropriate comment or directly email to [email protected] and I will follow-up with you.

So over to you… either volunteer or make suggestions/comment, even if it is only to call me plain crazy for attempting such an undertaking!