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Tom Devane is a consultant, author, and co-author of provocative bestselling books on achieving extraordinary results using methods that systematically engage people in organizations and communities.
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    « Three Paths to Assess Change Readiness | Main | Four Tips for Building Powerful Visions that Get Acted Upon »

    The Importance of Assessing Change Readiness

    We’ve all been there, and sadly watched it happen.  In the heat of the moment, the rush to get the technical parts of a change implemented overrides any thoughts about how ready people might be for the change.  It can happen with all kinds of changes… new strategy directions, the implementation of a new computer system, initiation of a quality improvement effort like Lean Six Sigma, or redesign into a new organizational structure.  And the results fall into that large percentage of failed change efforts that are often cited at 70%.
    And in some unfortunate cases there is even a change management team, and change management workplan that exist, but with no formal mention of change readiness.   All too often change agents assume they know the likely causes of resistance, and don’t delve into situation specifics that would be helpful in developing change action plans.  With those thoughts as a backdrop, here are some things we’d like to find out about an organization’s readiness for an upcoming change.

    What we’d like to find out…

    Ideally, at a minimum, we’d like to cost-effectively gather information about:
    • possible reasons for resistance
    • specific concerns about impacts of the implemented change
    • strength of disagreement with the proposed change
    • parts of the organization likely to cause the most problems, and why their particular area might be likely to cause problems
    • parts of the organization likely to enthusiastically support the change, and why they support the change
    • whether or not the leaders operate as 1) an interconnected “leadership system” whose members engage in mutual inquiry, meaning making, and action planning, or 2) independent actors of their respective fiefdoms who focus primarily on their area
    • factors or specific actions that could increase acceptance of the upcoming changes
    • levers we could use to increase the success of the change
    • other organizational reactions to specifics of the proposed change.  
    In the blog Three Paths to Assess Change Readiness we present three proven, solid approaches for collecting this important information.  In the blog What Do We Do with Change Readiness Information?  you’ll see some tips for how to analyze this information.


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