Does your organization really have the capacity to change? How can you be sure?

Par Maude Laliberté

Organizations are often overwhelmed by the challenges that come with managing and processing multiple and sometimes concurrent changes.

These obstacles can lead to demobilization and endanger change projects that are critical to an organization’s growth – or even to its survival. For example, if one of these change projects happens to be a merger, failure can have dramatic consequences.

We know from experience that this loss of momentum is often a result of management’s difficulty to see the big picture in terms of all the ongoing changes, which are often numerous and constantly evolving (i.e. moving targets). Another frequent challenge is developing proper reflexes, like learning to manage change globally rather than in silos.

A New Avenue

To avoid underestimating the impact of simultaneous changes, Johnson & Rondeau’s capacity for change model is particularly helpful. It allows organizations to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, so they can then put together the winning conditions for any transformation project. By focusing their efforts in the right place at the right time, organisations can considerably increase their chances for success.

The model includes nine criteria for success, which should be put in place throughout the transformation process. These criteria are based on three specific yet interrelated issues – legitimization, implementation and ownership – each of which is critical and must be considered at all times, although at different levels.

As illustrated below, each issue depends on meeting three prerequisites, in the sequence in which they manifest themselves (starting from left).

Results Change Capacity ENG

To learn more about each of these conditions, please refer to Mr. Rondeau’s presentation (September 2011) and Lyse Mérineau’s article (Effectif, ORHRI magazine, 2014).

A Model That’s Made to Be Measured

A highly effective measurement instrument has been developed based on this model. In addition to evaluating the presence or absence of the prerequisites required for the proposed transformation to succeed, this tool allows users to identify the necessary levers, orient the necessary actions, gauge the level of understanding and buy-in for the transformation in question, and even compare the results of different groups within the organization (i.e. management committee, employees, etc.).
Online participants are asked to answer 55 questions related to the 9 prerequisites. The results reflect the respondents’ perceptions. Therefore, they shed light on where these perception differ and where they intersect, allowing us to set the stage for any necessary discussions or realignments.

The following chart provides an example of global results obtained by an organization whose team answered the questionnaire.

Change Capacity Model ENG

This diagnosis gives us specific information about the organization’s capacity to change. With a simple overview, we can identify which prerequisites are missing and where to concentrate and prioritize our efforts. From that point on, the organization can elaborate an appropriate action plan in order to proceed with the required realignment.

Using this tool with two distinct groups in the same organization (management and employees, for example) also allows us to verify if both groups are in sync or if any adjustments are needed to make sure they put the programmed changes in place together.

Providing Better Guidance to Organizations

For strategic transformation advisors like us, this tool is useful in allowing us to better guide organizations in their transformation projects. Even with the most brilliant strategy, the most appropriate planning and the most efficient tools, all our efforts may be in vain if the organization does not have a real and concrete capacity to change. And our primary objective, of course, is to guide them towards success.

By focusing on the basics – i.e. the way change occurs – this model and its measurement tool allow us to prescribe the necessary adjustments to make sure we’ve put in place the optimal conditions for success.



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