Change Management Ultimate Quick Win

“Quick wins” are an engrained organizational and project management expectation.

A few previous posts that might help for background:

Start Correctly Quick Wins

Change Management Quick Wins

Tactical Quick Wins

Change Management can get a jump start if those “wins” are chosen carefully and done well.

There is one quick win (quotes removed because this is the REAL thing) that will always pay dividends and stands out as the ultimate of quick wins. Ownership.


Every change has a person who controls the purse strings.

Don’t kid yourself with that organic committee structure. Every expense has a “signature”.

Stakeholders know this and look to that person in relation to the change. How is the owner participating? What are they saying? Do their actions (or inaction) give away their connection? In what way are they working with the next layer, the implementary owners/leaders?

For the stakeholders, ownership goes through three phases: the idea, the socialization and the project process.

The Idea

This is the first exchange from one person to the next that will be the seed for the change. Later stakeholders will ask, or wonder, whose idea it was. (Can you just hear the comments in your head if this is represented poorly…”Whose idea was this ANYWAY”)?

Owning the good and not so good of a change idea can be powerful for the change process at the individual level. The power is equal for the actual owner owning the idea because it is theirs and for the owner owning the idea because it is someone else’s.

The Socialization

Ownership of the idea, or not, is revealed as soon as that idea starts to get socialized.

That would be when the third person is brought into the loop. First person idea, first person tells second person, one or both of them tell third person- and you KNOW how fast it spreads after that. (PS you have now arrived at, or arguably PASSED, the point where you could stand to have a senior change management consultant- preferably external- onboard).

Ownership during socialization builds trust, gives chances for promises that can be kept and makes inclusion a choice rather than a task in a spreadsheet.

The Project Process

When it comes to ownership and change you do not get to pass orders and responsibilities down the line and then walk away. Even if someone else is officially accountable for delivery (usually starting at the implementary leader) there is ALWAYS still an owner. Don’t set this aside as unimportant. Years of listening to stakeholders have shown me this is the number one complaint, issue and “problem” to be fixed.

When the project phase starts everything is connected to goals with goals being part of the needs for the end state. Goals should be a representation of the organizations overall strategy and the reasons this change is happening. If there is no ownership first from the actual owner and then from those implementing then there is no trust for strategy. No trust for strategy translates instantly into no trust for leadership. No leadership trust? Then very little actual change.

How do we do this?

The NUMBER ONE quick win for change management is to get ownership. Admittedly this may not be a “quick” thing and if you have chosen to add change management to the mix late there is some catch up to do. Also weak corporate strategy and worse poor or “sale-sy” communications makes ownership tough in general. But we are looking for a quick win here.

Some tips:

  1. Make the connection between high level change management consultant and “the one who will be owner” as fast as possible. In the most perfect of worlds for both client and consultant, and so for change, the owner is the external consultants direct client. (This can be done internally, but it is a MUCH more difficult exercise). If your organizational culture, and/or the way and place you brought the consultant into, insists on an organic approach then mid level implementers must trust the consultant and then provide the necessary introduction. It is then up to the consultant to build trust and a relationship with that executive to start ownership.
  2. Adjust structure. Leaders get away with non-ownership because there are things baked into the organization that make this possible. Once baked everyone just accepts the taste. Leaders have the power and leverage to tweak those structural things. That is, of course, if they are willing to own decisions. Find something in the organizations structure that can be tweaked, do it, stick with it and help the leader own it. Hint: something as simple as creating a few leadership communications or having the owner show up in the right places at the right time could be a structural change. If this has not been done before, especially from a strategic implementation perspective, and it is done again the next time a structural tweak has just happened (and will be followed by a cultural change I can guarantee).
  3. Replicate this for your next quick wins. There are lots of levels of ownership from the idea, to the money, to the strategy, to the goals, to the individual task (and so person). Model ownership and pass it horizontally, down the change and from side to side within teams. Do so and your “quick wins” are virtually endless!

The ultimate quick win is ownership. The first quick win is ownership by the OWNER of the change. Without this quick win you will waste time, erode trust and never really quite get to those end states.

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