The world does not need another change management model. Do we? Kotter would disagree, and Bridges, even Lewin perhaps? After all, we also have ADKAR and others to draw from. I find that these models are very similar in nature. Using Lewin’s as a lens, the models tend to have 3 main phases of unfreezing, change, and then refreezing. Whichever guide or model you find yourself using, it represents only a fraction of the success factors actually involved in managing change. Because there are so many success factors, these need to be identified and managed in order for change to work. This is the core reason for the Success Factors Approach to Change model. In this first of two parts, the model is introduced, including the need for trust, the process of the model, and a clarification of the key roles of those leading change.
The Success Factors Approach (SFA)
The Success Factors Approach (SFA) is the consistent identification and management of the variables that affect change adoption before, during, and after the change. It is not mutually exclusive to other models but does provide a primary means by which the variables most likely to affect change are accounted for, and managed, throughout the process. The value in this model is that it is objective, comprehensive, and appreciative. The approach is meant to be objective, although there are elements of subjectivity; after all we all have opinions, but the objectivity is in the sense that we can all contribute success factors from all angles and vantage points regardless of our formal role in the organization or the change. In other words, anyone can identity and share a success factor. This results in a more comprehensive inventory of the variables most likely to affect change adoption. The more we inventory the more we can manage the change successfully. Key questions may include: “What will make this change successful? “What needs to happen in order for this change to succeed?”
The prerequisite for this model (and other models) to work is that trust must be present. Without trust, stakeholders will not be vulnerable enough to identity and share the success factors that need to be managed. For example, we often see success factors that transcend our role, which naturally fall in other managers’ scope of authority. Sharing these may be a political landmine. Therefore, we must ensure that contributions to this model will be met with appreciation and even reward to make it safe to speak truth to power.
The process of change is its own success factor. The process must be managed with focus. This is not a static event, but an ongoing conversation coupled with management of each of the success factors. Depending on the nature and scope of the change this may require a team of people to focus on it. Nevertheless, it is vital to the success of a change effort to have an official, empowered change agent. The Master Change Agent (MCA or simply “MC”) cannot simply be a figurehead, executive sponsor, or ambassador, but an empowered executive or manager; someone who can actually lead the conversation and be empowered to make decisions.
The MC may accomplish the inventory and management of success factors through regular “success factors” forums at every interval of the change. As success factors emerge, the MC must ensure that we have project managers assigned to each factor. At times, the Master Change Agent may ask for an objective facilitator to crowdsource the factors. This may be an outside consultant or internal project manager, a change manager, or Organization Development (OD) practitioner. It may also be accomplished through success factors surveys. Regardless, these modalities for taking inventory of success factors must be held regularly with all stake-holding groups and incorporate as many angles of the change as possible. These modalities may also be used to address barriers to those success factors already identified.
The value of the MC is that it provides a much more dedicated focus on managing the success of the change and serves to curtail some of the politics that jeopardize change efficacy. This is not to be confused with an Executive Sponsor. The MC should supplement the Executive Sponsor. Another reason the MC is critical is that it helps clarify roles. While we all have a role to play in the change, if everyone or a team of people have been assigned to lead a change, then nobody will own it. Thus, the MC’s role is vital as it clarifies who is actually in charge of the change inventory and communication of the success factors throughout the process at every layer, every angle, and with all stakeholders in mind. The MC must also ensure the factors are managed. It is also imperative to identity and communicate what is not changing during this process.
The Executive Sponsor’s role is not diminished when an MC is used. The Executive Sponsor’s role is to be a visible champion to the change, to provide resources, address political issues, and generally advocate for the management of the success factors, and readily support the MC. The MC and the Executive Sponsor should work in tandem.
It is also important to distinguish between project management and change management. Viewing change solely from either one of these lenses is insufficient. Project management tends to focus on the tasks associated with change implementation. Change management focuses on the personal contributions and engagement of those impacted by change. These should work in harmony as all change is personal and change will not be adopted without implementing the myriad of tasks associated with change. The MC must ensure that both are accounted for as this is an over-arching change success factor.
As we have seen, this model is objective, comprehensive, and appreciative. The success factors, process, as well as clarifying the roles of those leading change are of great importance. In part 2, global success factors involving substantive changes are discussed.