10 Key Questions to Ask Before Implementing Change

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I’m fortunate to connect with so many different clients in my consulting work and even more fortunate to be able to partner with them in responding to their diverse business challenges. Of course, while there are many differences in their business challenges, there are also similarities–with responding to change being at or near the top of the similarities list.

tough-decisionThere are lots of ways to ensure a successful change initiative (and many ways to derail a change initiative). I find that starting a dialogue with key questions about change can surface many of the issues that must be addressed to help change happen successfully. So, I thought I’d share some of these questions with you so that you can formulate your own strategy about change and what will work best for your organization. Here are just a few:

KEY CHANGE QUESTIONS (Not exhaustive):

  • What part of your organizational strategy is the change meant to directly impact?  Is it customers, products, financials, processes or people? What outcomes are you looking to achieve?
  • How have you prepared the organization for the change (or not)? Is the change by edict, or is it planned and purposeful, taking into account any gaps in the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to make the change happen successfully? How are you prepared to respond to the gaps?
  • Is this something that really needs to be undertaken now and if so why (what is expected to happen if the change does not take place and how can you demonstrate this to all stakeholders)?
  • How many times have you been involved in a change effort and find that it will change the fundamental values and culture of the company? This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but think of all of the folks who have aligned with the present culture and values. What cultural and value dissonance have you identified? What are the implications for the organization?
  • How did you come to the conclusion about this change initiative? Where’s the thinking, shared understanding, accountability, buy-in and alignment?
  • How has this change initiative been vetted? What key strategy questions have been asked and answered? How will change be managed?
  • Is your organization a learning organization and in what ways is it agile enough to handle all of the natural dips, valleys and curves that come with a change initiative? Often, you’re learning on the fly when moving your organization from one place to the next.
  • What will be communicated during change and how will people be informed? How will you win their minds? Their hearts? How will success be measured and leveraged?
  • What value will be created, retained or extracted for the organization as a result of this change?
  • What else will be competing with this change initiative that requires resources (time, $$, people, space, technology, etc.)?

Weaving questions like these into the dialogue helps me get a lead on exactly what the organization is trying to accomplish and exactly how well it’s been defined and communicated. I also find that it helps clients think through other important issues that may have gotten lost in the urgency of moving change along.

How many of these questions resonate with you? I’d like to hear from you.

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