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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Ask Why- Protect yourself from overzealous change management

A perusal of a popular change management “kit” shows 24 templates and 14 assessments to be used for a change project.

Ask why.

  • As the budget owning executive of strategic change question whether the tool will directly effect the accomplishment of your business objectives.
  • Be leery of tools that create “report-outs” to justify work
  • Look carefully at assessments and readiness
Readiness and Assessments

Honestly I think the stakeholders have grown out of these.

Mid level change consultants and internal consultants especially love this stuff. This is the chance to meet with people, champion the cause  and, usually, do some old fashioned OD (organizational development).

Stakeholders often see this as a lack of direction (read reduced confidence in leadership, a change management killer) and “busy work” for the change team.

No one is ready for change if it is not clear, thought out and sensible.  Readiness competed.

Assessment unless it is based on hard facts is subjective.

Since change management does not lend itself to easy facts (note I did say easy, they of course can come from chosen metrics) the assessment becomes one of the consultant, the sponsor or the champion. Somehow the stakeholders get lost in the shuffle.

So spend budget on defining end states and work back to fill in the where, the what, the who and the when. Then you can produce “assessments” that illustrate the stages on the path to the accomplishment of your objectives.

Tools to justify

Precious to the consultant or internal change agent are the tools to justify the time it takes to move executives, people and ideas forward.

Expensive to the organization are those tools.

Those  tools that can not pass the why test are a lot like those meetings where there is no dialogue or realistic action plans. So find those meetings you get rid of the unneeded tools or find the unneeded tools and you can eliminate those tedious meetings.

Tool-less Practitioners

The consummate consultant creates the interactions that give them the opportunity to ask the questions that could fill in those tool forms.

Their notes probably look similar.

They can produce a report if needed (and paid for) but, if they are leading you to those business objectives and intuitively smoothing out the obstacles along the way, then when it comes to the time ($) needed to fill out the tools…


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