Enhancing your organisation’s change capability can sound like a rather theoretical exercise, taking away focus and effort from day to day change delivery. This can be especially true in the situation where the pressures to deliver are high, everyone is heads down focused on this, and finding the time to look up and at the broader issues of change capability seems like a luxury that no one can afford.

We can understand why people sometimes think like this, but there are many tell-tale signs that it is worth taking seriously the need to assess and improve your change capability.

This is easiest understood by way of an analogy.

Imagine you are running a manufacturing company and you have a certain quality and volume of product you need to produce. You are under pressure all the time to produce more to a higher standard of quality. To solve this problem, you can look in more detail at each of the products you are producing, chasing them along the production line, and making sure each one is being produced in the right way. But at some point, you also need to think about the factory itself. If you never think about enhancing the factory, then you are going to be constrained in how far you get in producing more to the right quality. At some point in the future, the factory will stop being fit for purpose.

It’s exactly the same when it comes to change. You probably have a variety of initiatives running in your organisation, and if you are like most other organisations, you will be under pressure to reliably deliver more and more change all time. This is especially the case in 2021 as organisations seek to catch up with the sea change in customer (and employee) behavioural change post pandemic at the same time as technological innovation spawns ever more start-ups and disruptors.

Many organisations are inclined to focus in detail on each one of their current change initiatives and try to make sure they are well run. But like the manufacturing example, if this is the situation you are in, then there comes a time when you need to think about redesigning or otherwise improving your change “factory” – which we call your change capability. The problem is, in the face of day to day demands, finding the time and resource to do this is impossible.

Beyond this general sense that there is a need to improve change capability, there are several more specific situations we repeatedly see. Enhancing change capability partially solves many of these problems.

Five of the most common situations are:

  • A poor or unclear link between your organisation’s strategy and the portfolio of change initiatives being undertaken.
  • The repeated experience of poor or failing change initiatives, that fail to meet expectations, or which create an excessive business interruption when implementations occur.
  • The perception that the cost of change is too high relative to the value being delivered
  • Regular, unanticipated shortages in the key skills and capabilities required to deliver change
  • An over dependency on third party organisations and partners, without a growth in internal capabilities to compensate.

If you experience any of these, it is time to free up some time, shift some of your focus away from just individual change initiatives and start to look at your organisational change capability.

Organisations that get this capability right will rapidly see real bottom line benefits. Costs will fall as a result of reduced reliance on external resource whilst change projects will be  delivered sooner and more effectively meaning sustainable change programmes your customers and employee will appreciate.