I often run into conversations with Leaders that revolve around how much change can employees handle. And (unfortunately) most of the time they close with:
Option 1: Our employees have been handling change wonderfully. And I don’t think this change is complex
Option 2: Our organisation is on this path now. I think the only employees we have are the ones that thrive with this change. And that’s ok.
Option 3: I see your point on saturation. Lets see what we can do to make this change easier for them.
Do you see that all 3 responses above are abdicating any role a leader may have in managing the overall volume / pace / direction of change?
Change saturation is a real issue – but often not viewed as a solvable problem. Leaders view saturation as a perception in the minds of employees [“ our changes have been more demanding of our employees – you can’t just sit in the chair and earn anymore”] or as an outcome of inefficiencies [“if they were more process-driven, then they wouldn’t be saturated”] or as an inevitable result of the environment/context [“We have to keep accelerating. We cannot afford to slow down”]
Change Saturation is when your organisation [employees] are dealing with more change than they can handle – resulting in
– slow-down in adoption
– greater effort in establishing the awareness [“why now?” becomes a frequently heard question]
– project delays as mid-managers and employees take longer to get trained or improve usage
– sponsor movements in projects [or poor sponsor involvement] as sponsors deal with over-committed calendars
– Other issues could include productivity decline, impact on morale/attendance, errors and oversights.
Prosci’s Best Practices Research [11th Edition] points out that 73% of the organizations were nearing at or past the point of saturation – and that 60% of Organizations are looking to manage their portfolios.
So [beyond managing individual projects well] what can be actually done?
A] Manage a portfolio of changes not just many programs
It is critical that Business Leaders and Change leaders start managing changes as portfolios and not just “Program Management them” – as though they would not interact among them. This means having a mindset that looks at diverse changes through the lens of Organizational Goals and Benefits and then curating them.
B] Establish a [low level of] Leadership tolerance for launching programs without a portfolio-level oversight
– Dashboards and Measurements:Prosci recommends developing and maintaining an inventory of all significant change projects underway or planned in your organisation
C] Manage the Portfolio
This is where the organizations; intention becomes action. Leaders + Project Managers + Change Managers are all involved in the ongoing effort to Analyse change impact of the portfolio, risks to efforts, specific points of “change collision” affecting specific groups, leadership decisions and actions to address those stages / points of times / change projects that cause change saturation within different groups.
So orchestration of the changes is what we are looking for – and that is a journey that isn’t going to start without Leadership Intention and commitment.
Reach back to us at Marg and let us take you though the Prosci approach, tools, and workshop with which we on-board leaders into this journey and help your organisation manage your Change Portfolio.