How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
A common trap when planning a change project is to assume that it is just like any other change project. In practice, change projects are often far more complex, in particular in the people domain.
Change can be made more certain and predictable if you take control of time and what happens in what time. Sometimes this means slowing things down. Sometimes it means forcing the pace. In both cases, the goal is success.
To make change happen means that people need to spend 'quality time' on it. If they try to handle the change in their spare time then the chances are that the change will not happen or may slip inexorably outward.
You can tell that people are engaged when they have meetings and actions in their calendars (and not doubled up with things that will turn out to be 'more important').
People often need time to get their heads around the ideas and appreciate that impact of the change. Too often change projects are managed like a drag race, charging off the line with little thought for whether people are ready.
It can be a worry that if you give time then those who resist will organize against you. This can be the case but it is far more common that resistance is based on a lack of understanding that can be addressed by allowing a bit more time for this.
When planning for the change project, plan for things that are likely to happen within a change project which are less significant in an ordinary project. This includes:
Even when you have a realistic plan, things can still go wrong. Changes in requirements can appear from stakeholders. Budgets may be changed. And of course resistance to change may appear in all kinds of creative ways.
This is the 'long dark night' of the change manager who must tirelessly both 'crack the whip' and deal sensitively with real people issues.
There are two things you need to help ensure you can make the change happen. First, a system of reporting, where people who should be doing things report on what they have actually done. Secondly, the ability to escalate issues, including when those who should have been doing things have been excusing themselves (or just flatly refusing to engage). A velvet glove is best, but sometimes you also need the iron fist.