… And What About the “Hard” Factors of Change Management?

Guest post by Jennifer Santoso of Santoso Consulting; www.santosoconsulting.com

For those who have ever wished for predictability and measurability when jumping on the Change Management bandwagon, you just may be delighted to find that pairing a “Hard” quantified assessment and execution with traditional “Soft” elements has proven to consistently yield success and last ability.  Now, we’re not shunning the Change Management’s soft side, but rather, complementing it with a rooted support structure. When you feel in your gut that Change Management’s traditional soft factors (e.g. a sense of urgency, leadership’s vision, and cultural factors) just aren’t enough to give you the confidence to champion your Change Management project, take solace in the quantifiable and predictable hard elements that you can have right at your fingertips.

What are these hard elements?  Let’s find out.

Four, and only four, specific hard factors have been correlated with predictable Change Management outcomes and the ability to guide project execution according to Harold L. Sirkin, Perry Keenan, Alan Jackson of the Boston Consulting Group in their study, “The Hard Side of Change Management,” 1992 – 2005:  Duration, Integrity of Performance, Commitment, Effort (DICE).

Hard Factors

1. DURATION

The time associated with the length of a project and between milestone reviews; shorter durations are best for complex projects and longer durations are best for projects that are more straightforward.

2. INTEGRITY

A project team of high performance quality, professional versatility, and high skill level is necessary; this team should include top performers from various organizational functions.

3. COMMITMENT

Backing from senior leadership and middle management (C1) and backing from the affected workforce (C2) with thorough, consistent, and clear communication about project implications.

4. EFFORT

Additional work associated with adopting change should be at most 10%; if more than that, employees will resist; free up or leverage additional resources as necessary.

An assessment of the DICE factors can be used to calculate scores to predict the likely outcome of your project.  The lower the score, the better. Begin by using the questions and grading rubric below:

Assessment

DURATION [D]

Questions:

Do formal project reviews occur regularly?  If the project will take more than two months to complete, what is the average time between reviews?

Points:

1 - Time between project reviews is less than two months; 2 – Time between project reviews is

between two and four months; 3 – Between four and eight months; 4 - More than eight months apart.

INTEGRITY [I]

Questions:

Is the team leader capable?  How strong are team members’ skills and motivations?  Do they have sufficient time to spend on the change initiative?

Points:

1 – Project team is led by a highly capable leader who is respected by peers, members have the skills and motivation to complete the project in the designated amount of time, the company has assigned at least 50% of the team members’ time to the project. 
4 – Project team is lacking on all dimensions described above.  If the team’s capabilities are somewhere in between, assign the project 2 or 3 points.

COMMITMENT - SENIOR MANAGEMENT [C1]

Questions:

Are senior executives regularly communicating reasons for change and the importance of success?  Is the message convincing?  Is the message consistent, both across the top management team and over time?  Has top management devoted enough resources to the change program?

Points:

1 – Senior management has, through actions and words, clearly communicated the need for change;
2 – Senior executives appear to be neutral;
3 – Senior executives appear to be disengaged;
4 – Managers perceive senior executives to be reluctant to support the change.

COMMITMENT - LOCAL LEVEL [C2]

Questions:

Do the employees most affected by the change understand the reason for it and believe it’s worthwhile?  Are they enthusiastic and supportive or worried and obstructive?

Points:

1 – Employees are eager to take on the change initiative;
2 – Employees are willing;
3 – Employees are reluctant;
4 – Employees are strongly reluctant to take on the initiative.

EFFORT [E]

Questions:

What is the percentage of increased effort that employees must make to implement the change effort?  Does the incremental effort come on top of a heavy workload?  Have people strongly resisted the increased demands on them?

Points:

1 – The project requires less than 10% extra work by its employees;
2 –10% - 20% extra;
3 –20% - 40% extra;
4 – The project requires more than 40% additional work. 

Scoring Algorithm

DICE Score = D + 2(I) + 2(C1) + C2 + E

It has been found that the combination that correlates most closely with actual outcomes doubles the weight given to team performance (I) and senior management commitment (C1) as shown in the formula above.

In the 1 – 4 scoring system, the formula generates overall scores that range from 7 – 28.

Take note of which zone your current or upcoming change project resides in.

Lastly and maybe most profoundly, putting the DICE framework to use leads us to a variety of practical implications:

  • Evaluate transformation initiatives and shine a spotlight on interventions that would improve chances of success
  • Serve as a common and objective framework for subjective assessments
  • Compare a DICE score at project kick-off to those of previous projects and their outcomes to check if the project has been set up for success
  • Track how change projects fare by calculating scores before and after a change project or simply do so over time
  • Condense the all-too-common two-day, lengthy, exploratory, and unstructured project planning discussion to a focused, two-hour exercise
  • Allow managers to identify early warning indicators and respond by increasing the possibility of success before a project starts
  • Enable frank discussion at all levels when various executives or employees produce varying scores for the same project

All in all, although the soft factors of Change Management may bring about the “warm and fuzzies” by speaking directly to the “people-side” of the equation, I know that I feel warmer and fuzzier by having the right tools in-hand to pre-determine and maintain project success.

. . . And now onto my next conquest; I am determined to find a quantifiable method that is as clear-cut and easy to use for Organizational Health, another one of my favorite topics!

For more details, see the full referenced article at: https://hbr.org/2005/10/the-hard-side-of-change-management/ar/1

 – Authored  by Jennifer Santoso of Santoso Consulting; www.santosoconsulting.com