The Equation for Measuring Change Transformation Success
Reed Deshler | June 29, 2016
Measurement is an essential activity to ascertain the success of a process or an activity. However, assessing the effectiveness of a change transformation is not always as straight-forward or simple as reading outcome data or waiting for a position in the market to change. Although metrics such as milestones and target headcount are important, they give only a partial picture of the overall scope and complexity inherent in measuring change transformation.
Rather than conceive of change transformation measurement as something largely singular and tied to only a few metrics or numbers, it is helpful to understand it as an equation with many parts that build and depend on one another. The following outlines four different stages or parts of the equation to measure overall change transformation success:
1. What did we change as an organization?
This first part of the measurement equation essentially places design choices under a microscope to determine if they were well thought out and right for the organization. Among many things, this measurement will determine if the blueprint was aligned to the organization’s strategy, if the design accounted for the peculiarities and culture of the organization, and if the choices made sense in the marketplace.
To put this into practice, let’s image that you are a sales organization that wants to create a more customer-centric focus. In this part of the measurement equation, you would ask how well the direction towards greater customer-centrism aligns with your overall business strategy. You might also measure how well the design plans to work with and integrate into your corporate culture. If changes are needed, does the design account for them in the implementation schedule? As the first part of the overall measurement equation, you would want to make sure that you answer these questions before you jump to the next variable in the equation.
2. To what extent did we implement the choices that we designed?
Stated more simply, did you fully implement the design? It is extremely difficult to measure the overall success of a project without first measuring and tracking if the organization fully implemented the design. I am always shocked at the number of times I go back to a client who did not implement their design or major components of it. More often than not, these organizations are discouraged because they are experiencing less change or improvement than they expected. Measuring how well your organization is implementing the design will not only help you implement the changes, but will enable you to more accurately measure the overall results.
3. Did the implemented choices create the desired behavior changes?
In this third phase of the measurement equation, we determine if the designed changes that have been implemented actually created changes in thinking and in how work is performed throughout the organization. Although behavior change can be difficult for some organizations to measure, it is directly linked to performance change, and an organization cannot work and act differently until they change the behaviors of employees.
Referring again to our sales organization example, if we are trying to create an organization with greater customer-centrism, then we must find a way to measure how our employees’ behaviors towards customers have changed. Are our reps friendlier than they were before the design? Are they taking the time necessary with each customer? Do they provide one point of contact to address customer questions/concerns? If the behaviors to produce better outcomes have not noticeably changed, then even if you have architected great design choices and strived to implement them, you must re-evaluate the implementation, deployment (communication), or blueprint to see how you can facilitate the needed behavior changes.
4. Have the overall outcomes of the organization changed?
In this final phase of the measurement equation, we assess if the changes in behavior indeed altered the outcomes of the business in the ways we wanted them to. In other words, now that the behaviors of the organization align with our design, are we seeing the marketplace value that we expected (e.g., productivity improvements, sales increases, greater customer satisfaction, etc.)?
For our example sales organization, this measurement would evaluate if net promoter scores are showing an increase in customers returning or recommending your services/products to others. In the end, this is where the rubber hits the road in our change transformation as we determine if our design delivered on our expected outcomes.
Measuring change transformation success is not a simple thing – it is a challenging, multi-faceted process. It demands exploring each of the four variables outlined above to ensure that what has been architected (the design), is implemented, that behaviors are actually changing, so that performance in the market or to the customer is realized. Unfortunately, even perfectly implemented change transformations do not guarantee that the targeted changes will produce the desired marketplace results. However, with a more sophisticated understanding of change transformation measurement and by extension success, companies can fix problems early in the transformation process rather than find themselves frustrated by unrealized outcomes.