2020 – achieving sustainable change

Published on Friday 23 November 2012 by in Blog, News with no comments

Discovering critical success and fail factors for organizational change.

GamingWorks together with Hans van Leeuwen and Hans van Leeuwen  from the Programma management institute organized a management of change workshop using their latest business game – ‘2020’, a game focused on sustainable organizational change realized through an integrated approach.  The integrated approach is based upon the book ‘Organisaties veranderen met programmas’ by Hans and Hans and focuses on Process management, Program management and Change management.

Why this game and why now? Change is becoming the norm, not only that, but change programs are becoming increasingly complex. At the same time the majority of change initiatives fail to achieve their objectives and meet with damaging resistance. Why is this? and what can be done to increase the success of change initiatives. This is the focus of the book, and this is why the 2020 business simulation game was developed,

The game was played with a group of senior project and program managers responsible for large, multinational and complex programs and projects. One of the objectives for the session was to identify critical fail factors relating to organizational change management, ‘What did the delegates discover in the game that they identified in their existing change initiatives at customer organizations’? At the same time to experiment with instruments from the book, experiment with new approaches and discover critical success factors.

In the business game the team plays the Union.  A group countries forming a value chain. The end point in this value chain is ‘Touristiana’, a tourist dependent country . The other countries in the union have factories producing engines and parts, factories building taxi’s, refinery’s to produce petrol and gas, and energy companies delivering electricity.

During the game one sub-team will be executing the processes within this value chain. A second sub-team, The ‘Union commission’ will develop a plan aimed at managing a complex change to the value chain; a shift towards sustainable energy, less reliance on dwindling oil reserves,  reduced pollution and tourist growth.

An instant feeling of them and us!

In the first game round it is clear that team executing the processes and the Union commission have little communication. Operations is struggling to deliver value and meet their agreements, processes are poorly aligned, tourists are clearly not happy. Suddenly the board comes with a statement about the change and why. The CEO launched into what he thought was a motivational introduction ‘Proud….tourists flock to visit us…revenue…..we are all working together…..’ Painting a future picture without any relationship to what the operations is experiencing or feeling. A instant feeling of ‘them and us!’ had been created, lack of trust and belief, the board it seemed was ‘dumping’ a change on us….a great start to the change initiative. Delegates instantly recognized many of the programs they were involved in.

Following the initial rounds I asked Hans and Hans ‘What have you seen now that reflects reality?’

Organizational change:  We used the approach of John Kotter as a reference. ‘The board came with a sense of urgency that had no buy-in or relationship with what the operational organization was feeling. It is all about CREATING a sense of urgency. The vision for the change and the sense of urgency must be FELT’.

Program management: ‘The Vision of the change needs to be more than simply a point on the horizon and words and slogans. The vision needs to be shown as a program with a portfolio of changes, initiatives and projects over time to help create calm, clarity and understanding and buy-in for what will happen and when’.

Process: ‘(In the game) This needs to be very much a physical process, management by walking around, getting into the operations, engaging  and involving, two way communications activities not just ‘sending’ or ‘telling’’.

Program management: ‘Often too much of an operational focus, to be able to initiate programs

Organizational change: ‘The change group has too little affinity with the operations and the operational issues. Their goals are unclear and too short term focused. ‘begin with the end in sight’, the end needs to look to the longer term’. ‘too little experience in organizational change and using senior project managers rather than having a balanced set of skills and capabilities on  organizational change, program management, and process management’.

Process: ‘Too little involvement and enagement with all the stakeholders to understand peoples goals and priorities, to help realize understanding, buy-in and commitment’.

An important aspect is ‘empowering’ – enaging and involving people in helping create the sense of urgency, involving and engaging in helping define the changes that will form the program, empowering by helping remove barriers that will prevent the change from starting and meeting directly resistance.

Session learning

At the end of the session we reflected with the group on what they had discovered during the workshop.
What did you see, feel and experience today, in terms of fail factors, that you recognize by many of your customers?

  • ‘Diving into the content’. A natural reaction, however somebody has to ensure that the process is agreed and that people are in alignment, that the TBV’s are know
  • Need to question the program team and guiding coalition. Get out of the victim mode (the change is being dumped on me), ask about benefits ‘what’s in it for me’, clarify the ‘sense of urgency’- what if we don’t change? Empowerment – how will we be enabled, which barriers do we see, seek a role in the change. What does it mean for me and when will I be involved and impacted.
  • Too little insight into the planning , plans not adequately communicated. Too little dialogue and two way communication.
  • Gap between the change team and operations. ‘Them and us’ culture created.

‘What critical success factors did you discover today about making change initiatives successful?’

  • Make the benefits visible. A change is more than the milestones and deliverables. The ‘benefits’ must be clearly known and understood to create buy-in. Planning must be clear for all, how and when will this impact me, what is expected of me.
  • Need to create, share and agree sense of urgency. Different stakehoders have a ‘different’  sense of urgency. Urgency must be FELT.
  • Balance between ‘realization of the change goals’ and the relationship with the Strategic team (Guiding coalition, vision, goals) and the shop floor. Involving, engaging, two way dialogue, empowering – is vital for CCO and COO.
  • Make the  program and portfolio of change visible and show the timeline. When and what so that people can see impact and know what is expected from them and when, also how and when benefits will be realized.
  • Make the KPI’s concrete, in relation to the benefits and embed these into the organization and operational teams. Create ownership, buy-in and responsibility for realization of KPIs, however people must be empowered to realize these and obstacles and barriers removed.
  • This also helps create a sense of purpose and ownership and allows people to see, feel and experience wins.
  • Getting the guiding coalition and the operations together at various times throughout the program to evaluate. CSI(Continual Service Improvement) approach. Evaluate progress, evaluate change approach and effectiveness, improve MOC capabilities and ensure success factors are being applied. Identify and remove barriers to change and counter measures to any fail factors identified.

The delegates, although themselves experienced change managers all gained some new insights and knowledge from the session. Gaining some pragmatic and practical tips and instruments for improving change success. ‘I can already see how this can help enormously when we are about to launch a major change initaitive, it clearly shows the importance of the commitment required from a Guiding coalition. It also clearly shows that realizing organizational change is more than a portfolio of programs and projects.”


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