Organization change is a big and complex undertaking. It is easy to get caught up in the process itself, especially when the transformation takes place over the course of months or years. But ultimately, it’s essential to stay focused on the reason for the change. At some point, the time comes to evaluate the changes you have made as an organization and assess whether or not your efforts are actually paying off.
The question then arises: how do you measure the effectiveness of change, when there are so many different elements at work? Let’s take a look at a few best practices for assessing and measuring organization change.
Choosing the Right Metrics for Organization Change Assessment
No matter how clear the goals or how well-thought-out the organization design work is, it can be very hard to measure success. Many things can happen in the course of an organization transformation that can affect the outcome. Often, these events are beyond the direct control of the organization design team. For example, if a big transformation coincides with an economic downturn, it can depress results even if the new design is actually working well.
Knowing which metrics to focus on when measuring organization change can help you to zero in on what is or is not working. Consider the following approaches for a more accurate evaluation of change efforts:
- Start with a baseline. Be sure you are clear on your primary reason for change, as well as your starting point. It’s a good idea to take baseline measurements before implementing organization change, so that you can measure results accurately.
- Monitor business outcomes. A successful organization redesign should initiate or improve business results. Tracking specific metrics such as market share, market penetration, money saved, customer satisfaction, etc. will help to clarify whether or not desired results are being achieved. Monitoring over time is best, because long-term patterns are less susceptible to outside influence and more likely to reflect actual effectiveness.
- Get internal feedback. If your organization change efforts involve delivery of internal services (such as those provided by an organization transformation COE), be sure to solicit feedback from internal clients. Positive feedback usually is an indicator that the change transformation is going successfully.
How Much is Too Much?
Even when you are tracking the right metrics, there are so many variables at play in a typical change transformation situation that determining the exact degree of impact your change efforts are actually making can be a Herculean task.
Documentation and analysis is, of course, important. It will yield insights that will help inform future change efforts and can potentially shed light on weak spots in the redesign that need tweaking or adjusting. But it’s also good to be aware of the danger of getting too bogged down in analysis. By proactively deciding how much effort you want to devote to organization change evaluation and assessment, you can avoid spending undue amounts of time and energy in data gathering and analysis.
Measuring Organization Change: the Big Picture
Given all the intervening variables at play, trying to measure change transformation by isolating specific metrics is usually ineffective. Instead, focus on overall results for a more relevant picture of how well your organization has changed.
Asking questions around the following four points can help you assess the big picture more accurately:
- What changes did you make? How aligned were these changes with your organization’s strategic goals? Did the design make sense for the organization and for the market? Did it fit well with the culture of your organization?
- How well did you implement? Did the changes called for by the design actually get put into place in your organization? Measuring and tracking implementation is essential, because if the organization design changes aren’t actually being made, it’s impossible to know whether or not the design is effective.
- What behavior changes resulted from your organization design implementation efforts? Performance changes will only happen as a result of behavior changes. If behaviors aren’t changing, you may need to go back and examine both the organization design blueprint and implementation efforts—including deployment and communication around the change.
- How have organization outcomes changed? The final proof of whether or not your change transformation efforts have been successful will always be seen in terms of business outcome. Measure overall changes in productivity, sales, customer satisfaction, and other areas to help determine actual market value realized by the change.
Success is never guaranteed when attempting organization change. Unforeseen things can happen to derail even the best planned and executed design. But knowing what to track and why when measuring organization change will help you to better understand how the change process is unfolding in your organization and bring potential problems to light so that they can be addressed and corrected sooner rather than later. In this way, your organization will be better equipped to navigate change successfully despite intervening factors.