A key element of any successful organisational transformation is a smooth and undisrupted transition. As they move towards their future state, organisations need to ensure a clean departure from existing structures, processes and ways of working. This is particularly true in the public sector and in safety-critical environments, where we know from experience how complex transformations can be. Transitions take time, and require carefully considered risk management, project management and communications at every step of the way.
When transitions fail, more than 80 percent of the time it is due to organisational resistance to change, unrealistic expectations or the absence of a compelling case for change (Accenture research). This can result in as much as a 20 percent rise in unplanned transition spend, due to low user adoption. Not only that, but rocky transitions can make people lose confidence, which may result in lower morale and higher turnover. As a result, end-users may not be served at the levels they were previously. How can organisations safeguard against this?
Based on our research and experience, to deliver effective change, organisations must design and operate strategic plans in the following areas:
Journey Management: Establish a plan to achieve the business vision and deliver value from the transition and organisational change. This involves identifying critical stakeholders, involving them as both advisers to and sponsors of the transition, and aligning their targets so that it is in their interest to achieve change.
Change Enablement: Implement a specific change effort (covering communications, training and knowledge transfer) to support the journey. This should be done both within the organisation —by setting clear and realistic expectations and helping to retain new employees and related stakeholders —and outside of it— by reassuring, engaging and developing the user-base.
Programme Management: Impact, influence and support the change journey in terms of managing scope, quality, cost and value. By using advanced tools and methods to measure progress during the transition, organisations can demonstrate the value of change by accurately tracking and communicating benefits to stakeholders.
As the NHS, and other public sector bodies, seek to transform their services, it is crucial to have a strategy in place to deal with complex transitions. By focusing on these three elements, organisations can shift from theoretical operating practices to delivering a sustained and embedded model —ensuring they get it right, first time, in safety-critical environments.
At the same time, transitions will be smoother, transformational risks will be reduced and the organisation can reap the benefits for which the transformation was originally designed —delivering efficiencies, improving business operations and increasing user adoption.