Ready, Willing & Able: How to Best Prepare Your Organisation for a Change Project

Image: fotoinfot/
Image: fotoinfot/

Dynamic times call for agile organisations. But as a project manager or executive, you know this diffuse feeling that your company is struggling with the complexity and number of change projects. Numerous studies show that this perception is not just a vague gut feeling. As we reported before, every second project ends up failing. Willis Towers Watson assumes that only one in four transformation projects are successful and, according to Bain & Company, only every eighth change project delivers the desired results. McKinsey confirms that very few managers would describe their transformation programmes as successful. The negative list could go on – but how can these statistics been turned into something positive?

Change as an Integral Part of Corporate Culture

Hardly any manager doubts that change is an essential component of modern leadership. In addition, there are examples beyond the bad project statistics where we see transformation happening in an impressive way. Companies that successfully implement change projects gain competitive advantages in the long-term. It is not surprising that ‘creating a culture receptive to organisational change’ is the chief priority of the nearly 4,000 project managers and executives worldwide surveyed by the Project Management Institute in its latest Pulse study. Change should become an integral part of corporate culture. However, this is easier said than done.

The keyword ‘receptive’ leads us to the heart of the question of how change can be carried out successfully. Whether it’s BCG or McKinsey, renowned transformation experts agree that there is no universal remedy for change projects. Rather, there are a number of success factors, which, when combined, increase the probability of achieving the goals of a transformation programme. There are the usual suspects such as transparent communication, clear objectives, strong commitment from the management, a sufficient budget and realistic planning which all must be harmonised together. However, we are there talking about success factors that become relevant when an organisation is already in the middle of a project.


Intrinsic Motivation for Change Is an Ideal Prerequisite

‘Receptive’ indicates a time in the run-up to a change project – before the starting signal has been given, before resources are bound, before the trip gets going, before it gets complicated and before there is no turning back. BCG and McKinsey agree on this point as well. At the beginning of each transformation, the question to be posed is whether the organisation is prepared for the project (ready), is fundamentally ready to carry out the change (willing) and is in the position to make the project successful (able).

‘Ready, Willing & Able’ is the rule of three that you should carefully examine as a team leader or project manager before every change project. Similar to a success pyramid, these three aspects all build upon each other. With ‘Ready’ you lay the foundation. In general, supervisory boards give their management the mandate to change something. But this alone is by no means a guarantee of success. In times of virtual organisations, disciplinary leadership and traditional hierarchical models are becoming less and less important. Employees and teams are free and independent, and are more oriented towards overriding specific goals than fulfilling the wishes of their superiors. The sense of purpose for a change should emerge from the unique working context so that everyone acts in concert. In the best case, teams themselves come to the conclusion that change is required. Change projects that are managed according to a top-down style or that are started as a result of an ego trip have virtually no prospects of success.


Create Emotional Upbeat and a Desire to Change

With ‘Willing’ you will create the emotional conditions for a change project as the next step. If you employees and teams feel ‘ready’, you should carefully examine your organisation’s emotional state. It is beneficial to discuss the initial situation together with the team. Why are the planned changes necessary? What would be the consequences if we didn’t change? A look together at the goals sets in motion an emotional upbeat. What do you want to achieve through the transformation? Where is the journey going, and what is the joint approach to get the destination? Target scenarios can still be so attractive from the viewpoint of the management – yet it is only when your employees are ‘willing’ that emotional resistance will build up and the chances of success for your success project increase.

With ‘Able’ you check the professional and technical requirements. Is your organisation equipped with the necessary competence, resources, processes and tools to cope with the transformation? With ‘Able’, we are again involved in the classic project success factors mentioned at the beginning. If you can check off this point then the starting signal for your transformation is already sounding. With the ‘Ready, Willing & Able’ diagnosis you have simultaneously laid the foundations for the successful running of your project over the finish line.

Summary: With ‘Ready, Willing & Able’ you have a formula that allows you to diagnose the success factors of change projects in the run-up. Surwayne is the ideal solution to help you thoroughly check your organisation’s willingness to change. It is quick and easy! With just a few clicks you will be able to create an online survey that your employees and teams can answer in just a few seconds and even bring their own ideas into every project. This increases motivation and minimizes emotional hurdles. Request a free live demo of Surwayne now!

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Jasmin Daneschumand

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