Change- What do Stakeholders Need to Be “Ready” For


Another round of debate about “Readiness Assessments” going on in discussion forums.

Disclosure: I think those assessments were made up to justify some of the work companies wanted to be able to sell.

Having said that, there is a place for pre-work that lines things up so that change can move along smoothly.

I still believe it is entirely possible for people to move along those change paths.

If the road is unlit, full of curves and barely navigable then, of course, they will not be “ready”.

If you complain about the path and act as if 18 wheelers will constantly veer into your lane, participation may become a little weak with your initiative (and if you are a change firm lots of time will need to be spent getting people “ready”). How do we know if we are ready for anything around the corner anyway? It seems a silly question to me…

So a short list of things that DO make sense to get ready for:

  1. The Work
    Change always requires a little work- in our personal lives and for organizations. Being ready might mean gathering a little expertise, or paying to add something to your capability. It might mean setting other things aside to make sure there is space and time to get work done. It might mean acknowledging that for some time there may be more work than normal.
  2. The Motivation
    This may have been the reason for those assessments. Are people motivated to participate? Don’t force yourself, or anyone else (those New Year’s Resolutions to exercise are premeditated change that never really works right- you should have asked yourself if you were ready) to jump into change before there is any information. Readiness Assessments happen before anything else. See the circle?
  3. The Structure
    If the “ready or not” list includes all those things that might be missing or need to be tweaked for these new end states then asking for the list makes sense. Separate from my own kind of Get Ready list (which is made up of questions to get the answers for what is missing not to gauge individual comfort level) I have not seen this. Get ready by creating a supporting structure for the new environment- who reports to who, how people will be rewarded, what part of the status quo will work and be acceptable, etc.
  4. The Activity
    You will have a beehive of some kind of activity. It helps to imagine how crazy (maybe in a fun way?) that will be and prepare yourself. When those stakeholders were asked if they were ready did they get this explanation about the energy and activity level? And did they have a chance to catch their breath before the bees swarmed in?

Perhaps I will give you a list of things that are assumed to be on a “readiness” list that make little sense…

Be discerning in your quest to see how “ready” your stakeholders might be. And maybe start on the readiness of the organization itself, sans people, before you make the change path look like some scary trail through a dark forest?

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The One Minute Change Readiness Assessment


Are you ready for change? “No”
Are you ready for change? “Yes”

Readiness assessment done.
And that tells me what?

If you want to know an organizations “tolerance for change” (or any other made up term that tends to avoid addressing the real issues with change) start with the owner of the change. That might be the CEO, maybe an SVP, or for smaller change a mid level leader within a function.

Do they have any idea what the end state is and what they are proposing (not the business case- the real why from the people side)? If they don’t (hint: they rarely do) then you could easily say the organization is not ready for change. If they say yes go next to those who will have to represent and implement the change.

Same question.

If they both give you good answers that illuminate the end state and show they understand how that end state will be different for others then you can test that description with stakeholders.

Some may have a lot of questions and a lot of feedback (“resistance-assumers” that does not mean they are pushing back). Some may not. Whether they are “ready” or not is insignificant.

What is significant is that they understand their value for the end state and that leadership has articulated the connection between work and a bigger picture context.

Good change leaders CREATE readiness.

They know asking for it is a waste of time.
IMHO two cents worth having watched practitioners turn organizations that ARE ready into those that are not with all their “quantitative measurement”.

And yes this might take a little longer than a minute…

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