“Like changing tires on a moving car.” That’s how it may feel as you lead a suite of major change initiatives for a large organization during these challenging times. The marketplace and business environment are evolving at a rapid pace; the strategic roadmap isn’t static; you have to watch the destination while also keeping in mind the car and the people in it; and it’s not just one tire, it’s several. No wonder that statistics show more than half of organizational change initiatives fail or under-deliver.
In addition to the important capabilities of change management and program management, executives are increasingly seeing the need for a discipline, often called “journey management,” that supports a business when more sweeping, transformational change is required—perhaps after a major acquisition, or when releasing a potentially game-changing product or service to the marketplace.
A transformational change program is likely to be characterized by one or more of the following:
- It is a longer-term initiative that may extend across multiple economic cycles, business strategies or leadership regimes.
- It requires integrated oversight of a complex portfolio of initiatives.
- It needs close cooperation of multiple functions, business units and/or geographies to be successful.
Journey management offers processes, tools and methods appropriate to those unique characteristics, helping to increase the certainty of reaching the desired business goal at the right pace and with fewer risks, while also creating an organization that is more flexible and more permanently change capable.
How journey management works
The process and discipline of journey management is a hands-on, collaborative endeavor involving key executives from across the organization and, in many cases, an external partner that can provide an essential outside perspective and help put plans into action. What follows are the five typical phases of a journey management program.
1. Assess the current state and drivers for change.
In an initial phase of work, the executive team comes together, usually in a workshop environment, to understand the current state of the business as well as the real (rather than perceived) drivers for the change. It’s nearly impossible to be successful at managing a long-term, transformational change journey if one does not fully understand the starting point; a detailed and realistic assessment of the current state is crucial.
Equally important is agreement around the real drivers for the change. Often, different senior stakeholders will have contrasting views of those drivers based on issues they face within their own functional area. It’s important to reach consensus on the solution, as well as an understanding of the exact nature of shared problems and challenges. Failure to achieve common resolve at this point can put the change journey off course downstream.
2. Define a compelling vision for the future state of the organization.
The executive team must agree on what the new destination of the company will be and define a compelling vision with specific, tangible and measurable benefits and value targets. This “to be” state must be articulated in language that stakeholders at all levels can understand and embrace.
For example, take the case of the resources company that initiated a journey management program to support the transformation of its IT function. During an initial assessment phase, management determined that although the IT function was focused on effective service delivery, its distributed IT model was adding unnecessary costs and was not helping the business meet its needs. The desired future state was summarized in one simple, powerful vision: “To differentiate performance through information and information technology.”
3. Understand the gap between the current and future state.
The journey management team must bring together people from different parts of the organization who can realistically analyze the gap between where the company is now and where it wants to be—and who can assess the scale of the change effort to get there. This analysis is likely to involve assessments of the particular functions affected by the change journey, the effectiveness of existing training programs and workforce strategies, the relevance of current leadership development programs, the culture of the organization and more.
4. Create a journey roadmap detailing the capabilities and enablers to be delivered over an agreed-to timeframe.
The roadmap defines the set of activities that must be undertaken to achieve the future state of the journey—detailing the multiple initiatives within the overall change portfolio and then prioritizing them and noting the integration points. The roadmap also can serve as an important communications tool to keep the entire organization aligned around goals and progress.
In creating the roadmap, two related factors must be taken into account: the ability of the journey management program team to deliver, and the capacity of the business and its people to absorb the various impacts of the change portfolio. Trying to do too much too soon is one of the prime reasons for the failure of some transformational change journeys.
Providing detailed information about the enablers that will ultimately help move the organization toward its desired state is a critical activity. At the resources company mentioned previously, leadership used a structured journey management approach to establish clear outcomes—goals that included accelerating business insight, automating business operations, connecting people and partners, and defining a more agile IT architecture. For each of those goals, the executive team then identified the enablers that would help them reach the destination. In the area of delivering better business insight, for example, the company’s existing situation was one in which decisions about quality issues generally required too much manual data collection and integration; the desired state would be one where faster, better decisions were possible through easy-to-understand modeling and analyses. Two important enablers the company put in place to make that happen were standardized processes, data and technology; and easier access to trusted data and information.
At an even more detailed level, a journey management team must also specify the specific behaviors that need to be modeled—especially by those in management positions—so that change is embraced across the organization more broadly.
5. Establish processes to proactively monitor and adjust the journey so that the organization stays on track to reach the desired destination.
Any function concerned with project and program management will use tools to track progress and estimate effort to complete. As these individual projects get rolled up into a larger portfolio of change programs, however, it becomes more challenging to track, measure and manage the integration points. A key to successful journey management is moving beyond traditional project management so that multiple strands of work can be coordinated effectively.
For example, an ongoing and dynamic steering committee (called a “Journey Management Office”) can check the progress of multiple parts of the overall journey portfolio as well as the impact each part has on the others. The Journey Management Office assesses the status of the journey against previously defined end-state targets and periodically reassesses those targets based on market shifts and changing business priorities. It also monitors business outcomes, not just the achievement of project status points. This can keep the program on track through leadership regime shifts and marketplace change.
Change metrics are also essential. The ability to measure overall readiness of the organization for the multiple change programs in the portfolio is important, as is the means to assess deployment readiness at different stages of the journey. A new generation of tools can help track progress of the overall journey portfolio over time.
Conclusion: Predictability and pace
“Life is uncertain,” as the saying goes. But a comprehensive journey management program takes away some of that uncertainty by providing a degree of predictability as multiple change programs proceed. Such a program can also keep change moving at a proper pace so that progress does not languish, potentially compromising the business benefits of the change transformation itself.
Journey management will stretch an organization and its leadership, and ask much of all involved. But the ability to manage a complex portfolio of change over time can create an organization that is more agile and change capable—which can create competitive advantage.
About the Authors
Teri Babcock is an executive director in the Accenture Talent & Organization group and global lead for the Journey Management offering.
Adam Riley is a senior manager in the Accenture Talent & Organization group and the Journey Management offering lead in the United Kingdom. To Top