There are no shortcuts for driving sustained, meaningful change across an enterprise. There are, however, plenty of frameworks. As change management has matured as a discipline, a number of methodologies have arisen to help executives transform processes and achieve business objectives. Kenichi Ohmae’s 3C’s of Change Management Model—which focuses on customer, capability, and culture—is one of the best known. Other 3C’s models focus on factors like context, content, and course of action and commitment, capabilities, and control.
These models are very helpful for building strategies for change. Based on my experience, however, the following 3C’s of Change Management are more useful for predicting whether or not a given change management initiative will succeed—and are thus critical to understand and secure in advance of a major transition.
1. C-suite sponsorship
C-suite executives not only establish links between strategic goals and project goals, they also bring the funding and resources necessary to achieve desired outcomes. What’s more, accountability suffers without active, visible, and continuous sponsorship throughout the entire project. Unless there is strong sponsorship at the executive level, projects are nearly always doomed to failure before they even begin.
In the Prosci ADKAR model, the sponsor creates Awareness (the first “A” in ADKAR) and Reinforces the change through early and often communication. High-level sponsorship also fosters Desire across the enterprise, which is why it was one of the first things I discussed with the executive sponsor of a recent change management project I led at a Fortune 500 insurance company. The goal of the transformation was to establish a new solution-oriented resource model within the company’s reporting and analytics organization without disrupting current operations and external customer support.
As the project and change management lead, I advised my sponsor to engage with his team early and communicate with stakeholders effectively. I partnered with my sponsor to create and manage the communication plan, which enabled him to make sure everyone understood that they had his support—and to communicate to various stakeholders at the right time with the right level of information. I also developed a multi-year roadmap which allowed us to set clear priorities, track progress, and above all, communicate a “lookahead” schedule which indicated that this project was not just going to be a “flash in the plan.”
2. Change champions
Because my project was an enterprise-wide transformation project, and because I could not be everywhere all at once, I knew I needed help from people who could be my eyes and ears out in the field. These change agents helped me and the sponsor devise, own, and champion the roadmap at all levels of the organization. They also improved the communication plan with more detailed ideas on how to best engage different stakeholder groups. Some of my change agents were managers who had the authority to align performance targets and rewards with participation in change-related activities; others volunteered to be the first “super users” of the new solution model and helped provide a line of sight from project goals to day-to-day work.
Both types of these change champions facilitated the Desire for change by enabling a communication/feedback loop (which assists with promoting key change messages) and obtaining continuous feedback to optimize the messages (to better resonate with the end-user community and to reduce assistance). They also helped with general orientation training as well as hands-on coaching. Above all, change champions can help manage the risk associated with executing such a significant project and realize positive and sustainable change.
3. Continuous communication
Communications plans are critical to realizing both organizational and individual change. But instead of developing a lifeless communication plan that’s filled with sweeping generalizations, you’ll need to take a bottoms-up approach to individually and incrementally moving the needle. The most important question to answer in all change-related communications is “What’s In It For Me?” (or WIIFM).
In the F500 Insurance change project I described earlier, I developed scripts to build and sustain the business case for change. I choreographed a cadence of repetitive communication from myself, the sponsor, and my network of change champions, while encouraging impromptu, in-person communications, as well. I worked with managers to ensure that everyone knew how they fit into the roadmap, how they could best make an impact, and how they should close the loop with their teams by rewarding outstanding performance at both group and individual levels. Recognition typically correlates to increasing the Desire to change (as well as for those around the rewardee) as well as Reinforcement to make the change stick.
It’s common for transition leaders and sponsors to encounter resistance to the changes they are driving. Mastering these 3C’s of Change Management is critical to addressing and even avoiding these challenges.
Jasmine Alcantara is an independent project and change management expert with more than 20 years of experience across industries including health care, insurance, financial services, pharmaceuticals, and real estate. As a result of her work, she was awarded the DHS Science and Technology Undersecretary Award for Outstanding Contractor Achievement and the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce Innovation and Performance Award.