Are you prepared for the cost of change?

Most organisations I know change the way they do things. That’s partly because of the nature of my work and the kind of situation I’m asked to help with, but it’s also because most organisations, much of the time, realise they need to adapt as the world around them changes.

Those changes always have a cost. For big changes the cost is clear. I know lots of organisations that make a fundamental change to the way they do business (usually to keep up with digital competitors and their users’ expectations), and that often happens through a “change programme”—a costed programme of work involving project managers, planning, research, communication and a significant budget.

But even smaller changes carry a cost. Such a change might be to manage our projects a bit differently, or present our product to customers in a new way, or be more aligned across the organisation.

One of the most obvious costs is that the change is a distraction from… whatever we’d be doing otherwise. Another cost is just not being very good at the new thing at first, because we’re still learning, so we’re slower and make mistakes.

These costs often then generate objections. People will complain, question the initiative, and perhaps seek to go back to the old way of doing things, or suggest another plan. This slows down the change even more.

This is one reason why it’s important to win support for the change with those that matter. Listening to their concerns, and ensuring the change is made in their interests, too, will reduce the objections. It won’t eliminate the cost of the change, but it will help a lot.

Photo by Harvey K