Promoters of sustainable change

Promoters of sustainable change

When you have too many options for change, it is hard to decide. And when you finally chose a change direction, it is necessary to make it beneficial and sustainable.

Such was the case of a financial services company in the UK which faced with too many change initiatives found that they were neither delivering the promised benefits nor were they sustainable. Under these circumstances, the Board along with the CEO decided to re-format the monthly review of these change initiatives. Instead of starting with the review of ongoing initiatives presented by the respective project managers, the meetings were starting by reviewing the status of completed initiatives during the previous year or two. The emphasis was on the benefits delivered and the presentation was doneby the executive sponsor. Creating lasting accountability of leadership for the change gave the sustainability perspective of these initiatives.


Only that, to be sustainable, the change needs more ingredients, such as:

•       Engaged sponsors to support change management

•       Managing employees through the change process

•       Standardized project and program management practices


Engaged sponsors


Because change affects the lives and performance of the employees, the management is reluctant to openly back up the initiatives. If top management does not communicate the need for change the successful implementation of change will be threatened. Therefore sponsors, usually stemming from top management, play a very important role in promoting, supporting, clarifying and communicating the need for change and the goals to be achieved.


For change initiatives to be successfully implemented, the projects are becoming increasingly important as key drivers for change. Thus, those in top management need to be the type of sponsors who understand, promote and demonstrate change management competence in project management.


Key success factors:

1.     Involved leadership through values and behaviors

2.     Communication plan focused on the need for change, clarifying the direction and the goals to be achieved

3.     Resources allocated for the change initiatives


Managing employees through change


Studies show that leadership deficit is the second most important cause of failure when it comes to change. Therefore, it is very important for the management to be on board with the change and guide employees through the change process. During a change process, communication is very important and can affect the cost, duration, and outcome of change. Managers and employees see, most times, changing very differently. While managers see change as an opportunity for the company and for themselves, employees see change as something intrusive, that disrupts their activity and generates losses. Employees’ transition to a new modus operandi will reinforce assumptions concerning change in the near future. "Why did we have to change when all things were going very well?" is the generic formula of resistance to change. Understanding both these two viewpoints and managing change from these two perspectives provide a smooth successful transition for all stakeholders.



Only that things don’t stop here. The adoption of change by those involved is a step that facilitates creating sustainable change. The promoters of change –the afore-mentioned companies – internalize and build an organizational culture and a mindset that communicates to the mind and heart of employees. Reshaping attitudes and behaviors of employees is just as important for the success of the transformation as is the implementation process of change. Having a culture that embraces change (59%) and managing employees through change (58%) are the two key factors in change management according to McKinsey.


Key success factors :

1.     Empowerment – delegating the freedom of action and the ownership

2.     Generating short-term wins and rewarding employees who contribute to change

3.     Anchoring new approaches in the organizational culture


Standardized project and program management practices


Important studies made by PMI (Project Management Institute) show that 86% of top companies use standardized project management and program practices. It follows that these promoters of change use six times more often standardized project management and program practices for change initiatives than companies that say they seldom and rarely use such practices.


Furthermore, 85% of these promoters of change harness the value of project management methodologies compared to only 22% of the other companies who say they appreciate the value of project management to generate change. As a result of better change implementation, promoters have also better financial results: 83% of them say they have a solid financial position compared to 52% of other companies.


Key success factors :

1.     Integration of technology in the change process

2.     Deploying improvement activities of business processes

3.     Monitoring the new results


All companies go through change; some choose to provoke it in order to capitalize on opportunities and development while others are reactively engaging on the road of change to remain competitive. The performers of change are those companies that have engaged sponsors, identify the factors which facilitate change and demonstrate practices that allow them to implement sustainable change.