The key to delivering successful change

Change is the new BAU (business as usual). Change is no longer just for process improvements or the introduction of new services and products, it’s a survival tactic. The pace of change in today’s business environment necessitates continual management and strict control, if any change is to be a success. Mimi Yearsley, Business Change Consultant at Amsphere, talks through the four fundamental steps to delivering effective change management.

“Major change is too complex to be managed, it must be led.”  – John P. Kotter;


"The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic." – Peter Drucker

These two pieces of wisdom, although disparate, to me are critical to the thought process for any major change programme. Change is easy to introduce, but without successful leadership, difficult to complete. With any element of change, it requires a new way of looking at, and doing things. It is impossible to implement change without embracing a future way of working.

I have been involved in many change programmes, witnessed many successes, and of course the occasional setback. What has become apparent is that there are four key areas that always seem to determine the outcome.

1. Knowledge – Managing knowledge is critical and a key enabler to business change.

Most project initiatives that fail do so not because it was a bad idea or the solution was not effective, but because the adoption and transitioning of the change by business users failed to be addressed. A technical focus ensures that the change is developed, designed and delivered effectively. Project management makes this happen. A people focus ensures that the change is embraced, adopted and utilised by the business users who have to do their jobs differently as a result of the project. The discipline of change management makes this happen.

Managing knowledge is the key enabler to managing change. Lack of knowledge about the proposed changes creates fear, anxiety and resistance to change. When change is underpinned by clear communication of knowledge and early engagement of impacted stakeholders, it is adopted more easily.

Another key aspect of managing and implementing change is benefit realisation. When knowledge of how to use the new system effectively is available, when resources are trained and materials available, it is only then that the expected benefits can be realised. This is key to achieving the ROI for any project initiative.

2. Business Analysts – An asset in change management

One of the assets managing change in a project is the business analyst. Although the two functions of business change and business analysis are sometimes carried out separately, projects would benefit from integrating the two functions.

Why is the Business Analyst an asset in change management?

The skill set, of a Business Analysts is ideal to lead and integrate organisation-wide change. Such skills include — critical thinking, problem solving, modelling current vs. future state, facilitation. Change takes people out of their comfort zone and generates anxiety. It makes them uncomfortable. Business Analyst can assess and validate the feasibility of change. They are close to the processes within the company and understand the benefits of the changes introduced. They have relationships built with key stakeholders usually and are best positioned to communicate the rationale behind the change and win acceptance from the business users. Facilitation skills of the analyst makes them excellent listeners, they anticipate objections and pre-empt them by offering solutions.

3. Sustaining Change – Change for tomorrow, not just today

We have acknowledged that change is survival for most organisations. Therefore it needs to be a continuous and sustained process.

Maintaining the status quo or undergoing enterprise-wide reengineering are not healthy options. To be sustainable, organisational change must be an evolutionary process involving process improvement and redesign.

Sustainable change, like any other process of improvement, benefits from keen observation, analysis and a method of feeding this information into the change process. Again this leads to managing knowledge that may be either explicit or tacit in an organisation and needs to be harnessed to direct change initiatives.

This knowledge could be found in a variety of sources from data analysis, lessons learnt from other projects to customer feedback even employee exit interviews.

The organisation must have processes and forums in place for all these disparate bits of invaluable information to be channelled into change initiatives that will eventually improve the internal and external customer experience.

4. Change and organisational culture

“Great company cultures are like great societies – they can expand human potential by empowering people to do exceptional things.”  – Torben Rick

No discussion on managing change is complete without touching upon organisational culture. Change is often viewed by the managers of change as a move away from the ‘old way’ of doing something and therefore the impact of organisational culture on change adoption is not considered.

The reality is that organisational culture is a key driver of change adoption. People who adopt the change work in the organisational cultural milieu. It is important for senior management to take this into consideration and build it into the adoption process.

Leaders must learn how to tap company culture as an enabler of speed, so this essential asset can become fuel for profitable growth in a change-driven era.

Watch out for the two great obstacles to change!

Two major obstacles to change are:

  1. Change overload
  2. Change fatigue

Both these are a result of projects working in silos, and senior management not having a holistic view of the quantum of change being implemented and whether or not it is aligned to organisational vision and goals. Change overload results in the change fatigue in an organisation amongst people expected to absorb and implement change. They do not feel enabled and do not have the confidence that the changes will sustain. It results in failure to adopt and implement change and feeds the cycle of failed change initiatives.

Communication, engagement of stakeholders at all levels and knowledge sharing is the panacea for all change initiatives.

Mimi Yearsley is a business change consultant with experience of delivering change initiatives across multiple industry sectors. To find out more about Amsphere’s business analysis services or change management support, please get in touch:


  1. Categories BANKING Tags: Zilla Efrat, DST, Financial Services, Transformation, Business As Usual (BAU)Author: Zilla Efrat Article Posted:October 01, 2014