Do you feel like a change management “fireman”?

A client calls you (last minute, it goes without saying!) to prepare a change management plan (intelligent, but not too long, it also goes without saying!). If you’re working in change management, as an internal or external consultant, I have no doubt that you have already lived a similar situation… and more than just once!

In reality, often enough we will not have the luxury to do change management by the book or be involved in a project from its beginning until reaping the benefits. Whether due to lack of time, a late involvement in the project, a lack of change management maturity from the organization or its key players, sometimes it’s hopeless imagining we could follow the best practices in change management to the letter! Nevertheless, not all is lost; it’s always possible to make a small step towards quality change management.

In order to be able to address a request and respect the restrictions of the organization or of the project, here are a few concrete recommendations to inspire you when:

  • Your project partners minimize the scope of the change. Set up a meeting or a workshop so that you can identify the critical stakeholders in the project, as well as the impacts. If you just get 45 to 60 min of air time and everybody notices that each point deserves a thorough discussion, getting more time in order to complete the exercise will be child’s play.
  • The different players talk about the project in different ways. Be it in the beginning of the project or the day before implementation, send the key members of the project team a questionnaire containing the 5 essential questions: Where are we going? (the target), Why do we have to go through this change?, Why now?, What are the expected benefits? How are we going to get there at the high level?. Collect these individual responses and organize a meeting or a workshop to share your findings, highlighting the divergent points.
  • If you were to believe your partners, the project will solve everything… and more. Draw up a list of benefits based on what you have heard and organize a meeting in order to validate if the necessary conditions are known and who is responsible for their realization. The list could very likely be cut down and become more realistic. Also, this could become an excellent foundation for key communication messages.

Even if you’re not involved in a project since its beginning and even if that is not the ideal scenario, it is always possible to skillfully choose a few activities or ask some questions that will allow your organization / team to take small steps and advance. And all this without compromising your change management criteria and quality standards. Fireman, maybe, but a fireman with a global and long term vision!

For more information on the online change management coach that could guide you in all the cases mentioned above, as well as in other challenging situations, visit: