Organizational change is a strategic business advantage which gains its value from increasing the likelihood of securing organizational benefit/goals through:

    1. Minimizing amount of people disruption associated with change
    2. Lessening the time required to move people from current to future state
    3. Lessening the impact of people productivity loss throughout the change

The challenge that faces the industry, and perhaps your organization, has been how to measure that value.  Perhaps you have run across some of the following challenges in trying to measure this value:

  • What data should be tracked? What are the true moments that matter for change outcomes?
  • Different change data is collected for each project that gets implemented
  • Only a portion of data for the change in the organization is being collected so what good is it really?
  • The data collected needs to be sorted through/cleaned up
  • For the data collected, what can be interpreted? What story is the data providing?

Although this article will not solve for all the challenges identified above, we suggest 2 measurement concepts to get your change outcome data collection on the right track.

Concept 1: Measure What Matters

When measuring the impact of organizational change do you measure what matters?  Do your change metrics align and/or are in support of overall business benefits/ROI?

If you as a change leader struggle to connect your change metrics to overall business benefits/ROI your organization and project leaders will as well.   This contributes to the fuzziness that many organization and project leaders often have about change management.  The organization says they need change management however, the business case is never proven. Change becomes communication, training and that “soft stuff” that someone needs to do.

What are some practical ways you can address this in the change efforts you are leading?

  • Insist on knowing the business benefits/ROI for the effort
  • Identify the most critical behavior(s) that, when exhibited, deliver the business benefits/ROI for the effort
  • Create and execute change management plan that supports adoption and proficiency of the most critical behavior(s)
  • Define and measure current state and post change metrics on most critical behavior(s)

Concept 2: Measure How People Adapt Change

When measuring the outcome of organizational change are you measuring how people adapt to change?  Do you view change adaptation as a process or as a single point of time?   Do you view change adaptation based on business capability or project delivery(ies)?

Adapting to change at the individual level includes the process of adoption (using the change), becoming proficient with the change (gaining speed and quality) and sustaining the change (business as usual).  Themes critical to moving people along this process includes manager priority, support for the change and measuring the critical behavior(s). Measuring along this process allows for optimization of what is working well and course correction while the change is still taking root.

When thinking about adapting to change at the individual level it is important to consider the business capability view. This view takes into account the collective change (change that is recently implemented as well as change that is in the adoption, proficiency and sustainment process) that an individual business role or function is faced with versus the project centric view that we as change leaders mostly deal in.  This view can help highlight potential cause and effect. For example, why an effort seems to be taking longer to sustain for a certain business role more than other roles. 

Measuring change outcomes is complex but necessary to prove organizational change as the strategic business advantage it creates.