Organizational Change Management How-To Series 3 of 5

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Article #3
Topics:· Assessments· Strategies and Plans· Change Readiness Assessment· Communication & Engagement· Measuring Change and Adoption
Change Readiness AssessmentThis is the third article in a short series of articles on the basics of how organizational change management is conducted. The first article focused on understanding what is changing, why the changes are being made, and who is impacted. The second article focused on the change strategy and plan that defines the overall change journey and detailed plan of activities over the life of a project.
A key tool in the change management toolbox is the Change Readiness Assessment (CRA). It measures an organization’s readiness for an upcoming change. It uses surveys, key stakeholder interviews, and focus groups to gather quantitative and qualitative data to derive readiness and risks. This data and information is then used to determine the actions needed to improve the readiness of the organization for the upcoming change. There are many ways to design a CRA. A score with color indicators based on threshold criteria can used. An alternative can be to use judgement and group discussion to determine what the data and information says and what actions should be taken to make improvements. An important aspect of using a CRA is that it needs to be customized to the project for which it is being used.
There are two key factors to creating and using a CRA on a project. The first is customizing the CRA questions to match the scope of the project, the timing of the CRA, the change and training approach for the project, and all the domains of a change program. The questions should ask stakeholders about their understanding and acceptance of the vision and case for change, communication effectiveness, the change strategy, leadership engagement, impacts to jobs and the organization structure, and training they will receive. When combined with collecting stakeholder demographic information, such as location, business unit, department, and position, the change team can see where, for example, leadership engagement in a specific department is weak or the understanding about job impacts is low among managers.The second key aspect is that a CRA should be conducted at strategic points in a project. For example, a good time to conduct a CRA is near the end of the Design Phase. Generally, at this point in a project, there has been some communication about the start and purpose of the project. Also at this point, leadership has usually made some key design decisions that have been communicated to stakeholders. This makes a great time to gauge the readiness of the organization since stakeholders have received some information about the changes being made and how they might be affected. The CRA can identify how effectively messages are being delivered and understood. Conversely, it probably doesn’t make sense to ask any questions about training in the Design Phase if the training strategy and plan have not yet been finalized. Some change methodologies conduct a CRA near the very beginning of the project so that the input can be incorporated into the Change Strategy and Plan. This can be useful depending on what the questions are and what has been communicated about the project. Another great time to conduct a CRA is in the few weeks before go-live. A CRA at this time can give the change team a chance to mitigate any remaining risks before an application is deployed to the organization.
The ultimate outcome of a CRA is an action plan. Specifically, a CRA generates a list of activities that need to be added to the current plan of activities in order to improve the change readiness of a specific group of stakeholders. That is what makes the CRA so powerful. It uses data-driven actions to improve the readiness of stakeholdersWhen you need help creating, managing, or executing an organizational change management effort for your large and complex project, it is critical to find the right company to help you. TAM Training has the experience and flexibility to help you define and execute the right approach for your organization, project, and budget.

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