How to implement organisational change

by Marty Nicholas

We recommend approaching implementation by setting an achievable future state first, then plotting a logical roadmap to get there. Here’s how organisations can deliberately execute on their plan via an agile methodology using sequenced packages of change.

Implementing change successfully is incredibly difficult. Transformation journeys are a lengthy process, so leaders will often choose to map out a three-to-five-year transformation journey to break it down. However, this approach tends to make the end goal tricky to conceptualise and stay on top of – the risk with such a long-term plan is that momentum usually gets lost throughout the journey, resulting in organisations never reaching their desired end state. So how do you set up your organisation for a successful implementation?
By the time an enterprise gets to the implementation stage, there tends to be fatigue from all corners. Management has lost momentum, the business has failed to properly address issues along the way, and employees may not have yet realised any benefits from the new ways of working. Another key risk is that once the project is in-flight, the outside world is changing so much that by the time an organisation reaches its destination, the end-state is less relevant or desirable. The key to avoiding these common trappings of implementation is to set up transformation with the correct approach from the start.

SETTING AN ACHIEVABLE FUTURE STATE                                               

Diagram01-1.pngFirstly, an ‘Achievable Future State’ is the term for the sweet spot between an ambitious and a pragmatic transformation vision. Setting up a medium-term end goal increases the chance of business buy-in, as it defines change that is both believable and closer to the day-to-day experience of employees. The best way to begin visualising the Achievable Future State is by defining your organisation’s customer journeys. This allows you to define the experience that you want to offer your customers, and ultimately clarifies your organisation’s future points of differentiation. Having defined your core customer offering, the next step is to understand the key pain points within the employee experience. Often there will be parallels between the opportunities that exist for improving customer and employee experiences.

Align the business around a 12-24 month target operating model blueprint
  • Define future state customer journeys and where you’ll differentiate on CX
  • Identify key pain points and opportunities in the current employee experience


Diagram02.pngOnce your change vision is well defined, with an articulation of the key shifts necessary for achieving the future state, the next logical step is to design a roadmap. The roadmap will allow your organisation to ladder into the future state, with each rung a logically sequenced package that accounts for change across people, process, and technology. By quantifying the benefits along this roadmap, you will also outline the incremental benefits that will be delivered to the business across the entire 18-24 month period.

Build a logically sequenced roadmap to fast track benefits realisation
  • Understand dependencies and sequencing
  • Quantify and map a timeline for benefits realisation


Diagram03.pngEach of the packages that you design will be broken into a 6-month period and will be designed to release quantifiable business value through either financial benefit, or customer and employee experience uplift. Packages should ideally be sequenced by prioritising those that address the immediate organisational pain points, providing business momentum around the change agenda to alleviate some of the difficulties of the change leadership role.
Define logical packages of integrated people, process and technology change
  • Focus on early release of value via minimum viable product and solutions
  • Over-invest in first line managers and frontline adoption to build the confidence required to progress to the next package
  • Build momentum bottom-up by proving CX, EX and financial outcomes to the frontline, managers and senior leaders


Diagram04.pngFinally, when it comes time to deliver these packages, the agile execution methodology should be used. A common trap that businesses fall into is to deliver technology change through an agile approach, but then lack the conviction to apply the same principles to the business change packages, often falling into the familiar waterfall approach. The best approach is to deliver both business and technology change in sync, ensuring that all change activities – process, operating model and change management – are delivered at the same 1- 4 week pace as technology change.
Agile execution within each package
  • Schedule activity in 1-4 week sprints
  • Continuously integrate, iterate and evolve
  • Release to the frontline based on change readiness

For deeper insights into what it takes to lead organisation wide change, download our whitepaper now.