All too often, organisations charge into change initiatives.
Sure, they identify the problem.
They research ways to address it.
They come up with clever slogans and ways to market it to their employees.
But they often miss a critical step:
Clearly defining what success looks like.
If the change initiative succeeds beyond your wildest dreams… how will you know? Is it something beyond your control, like your stock price goes up? Because millions of variables influence that.
You can get stuck by following change, then scrambling to figure out if it worked.
When you follow a recipe, you know if it worked. You either get a tasty meal at the end, or you don’t.
With change, though, it’s a lot less obvious.
After the change, you can cherrypick some evidence that says you’re better off than before. That’s easy to do. If your cynics are in any way creative, they’ll do the same to prove it failed.
That’s why it pays to define success early and publicly.
Fortunately, you can think big here.
If your change initiative has any teeth, it’ll influence every corner of your organisation.
What does success look like financially? Will profits rise by 30%? Will your expenses halve? If everything goes well, what numbers can you expect to see in your treasure chest?
Think about things from your customers’ perspective. Successful change, as they see it, is like… what, exactly? Maybe they have faster service, fewer complaints, fewer maintenance issues. It could be that nothing changes except for how they feel after dealing with your customer service people.
If you ask your employees, how will they know the change worked? Are the freer to innovate? Less pressured by unrealistic deadlines? Happier, healthier, more willing to stick around?
Think about each department. What will R&D say about this change? Legal? HR? Accounting? Maybe your change initiative targets only one team – if so, how will the other teams respond to it?
Your organisation exists in society. You have a reputation among folk who don’t work with or buy from you. What would they say about your change? Would they even notice? Do they need to?
These are all questions worth asking upfront.
If you can measure them, then measure them.
If not, how will you know you’ve succeeded?
And here’s a wrinkly question: how will you stop people gaming the system? It’s easy to reduce the number of received complaints by crashing the customer feedback portal. How will you know your change actually worked?
The more thought you put into this at the start, the better off you’ll be in the long run.