Organize Your Change Initiative Around Purpose and Benefits (2023)


If there’s one thing that’s certain about the future, it’s that change is here to stay. The ability to constantly transform has become a top priority for organizations. Therefore, change management is now an essential business priority that can’t be overlooked or set aside. Leaders need to urgently develop change and project management competencies across all levels of an organization, from employees and managers to senior executives. This article covers the two most important things leaders should focus on in any change project: purpose and benefits. Every successful change project needs at least one clearly articulated purpose. And the benefits to stakeholders must be clear. By using the approach outlined in this article, you’ll see that the level of engagement and buy-in on your change initiative will increase significantly.

A dramatic shift is taking place in industries everywhere: We have left behind a century dominated by increasing efficiency and are now living in an always-changing environment. Operating a business in this environment means having a massive proliferation of change projects.

In a survey of 1,284 executives and project management professionals, the majority of senior executive respondents indicated that the number of change projects in their organizations had exploded over the last five years. Some 85% of the respondents had seen an increase in the number of projects, and out of these respondents, 56% had seen a rise of more than 25%. A full 25% of respondents said that the number of projects had increased by more than 50%. This meteoric growth of projects is affecting not only organizations, but also our professional lives and the very nature of work.

Change management can no longer be ignored, relegated, or misunderstood. These fundamental changes have createdhuge anxiety in the workplaceand a natural dislike to change projects. Yet, nowadays, continuous transformation is at the center of the strategy of any organization, small, midsize, or large. Everyone at all levels of organizations — employees, managers, project managers, senior leaders, and CEOs — must understand and adapt to this shift.

Welcome to the Project Economy and a World Driven by Change

While the number of change projects keeps rising, the failure rates continue to be staggering: According to the Standish Group, only 31% of projects are considered successful. The idea that 69% of change projects result in wasted resources and budgets and unrealized benefits is mind-blowing. It requires that we approach change management in a radically different way, not only from a methodological perspective, but also from an organizational, cultural, and pure human perspective.

In fact, most of the current change management methods were developed for a stable world, where change projects were temporary and in addition to day-to-day operations, which were always the priority.

(Video) Ensure the Success of Your Change Initiative

Insight Center Collection Managing Change Strategies for transformation at midsize companies and beyond.

New concepts and tools to address change are emerging. I introduce two of them in the HBR Project Management Handbook: the importance of the purpose behind any change project, and the focus on the benefits.

Purpose: An Easy-to-Apply Tool to Fire Up Engagement

All change and project management methodologies demand that projects have a well-defined business case with often lengthy, technical, and deliverable-focused goals: for example, a new software rollout, a new platform, an expansion program, a new set of company values, a reorganization, or a digital transformation project. Most change projects use financial goals, such as a 10% return on investment (ROI). Yet these goals don’t inspire people to commit passionately to the change initiative.

Besides having a business case, a project should be linked to a higher purpose. People have enormous strengths, and the best leaders know that it’s possible to tap into those strengths through hearts and minds. When a project people work on connects to their inner purpose and passions, they can achieve extraordinary things.

According to the EY Beacon Institute, purpose-driven companies are 2.5 times better at driving innovation and transformation than other companies. At the same time, Deloitte says that, on average, purpose-driven companies report 30% higher levels of innovation and 40% higher levels of workforce retention than their competitors. These statistics are borne out in my own experience: Change initiatives with a higher purpose have significantly higher chances of success than those that don’t inspire people. Understanding the purpose and its connection to the overall strategy is not just crucial for deciding whether to invest or whether the transformation makes sense strategically; it is also a key driver for engaging team members and the organization as a whole, motivating them to support the change initiative.

Remember that people don’t have to be great at something to be passionate about it. Steve Jobs was not the world’s greatest engineer, salesperson, designer, or businessman. But he was uniquely good enough at all these things, and was driven by his purpose and passion for doing something far greater. Conversely, a lack of purpose or conviction about a change project can quickly spread from one team member to the rest of the team.

A remarkable example of setting a compelling purpose for an organizational transformation comes from Sony’s co-founder Akio Morita. At a time when Japan was seen as a cheap-product-copycat country, Morita established that Sony’s purpose was to make Japan known for the quality of its products. Japan —not Sony. Sony’s purpose was aimed at a higher dimension than its own company — which was bold, yet inspiring to its employees.

(Video) 5 Steps in the Change Management Process

An easy method of finding a change project’s purpose is to continuously ask, “Why are we doing the project?” Usually, you need to ask this question three to four times to get to the core purpose. For example, consider the introduction of a new Client Relationship Management (CRM) software system. Most change managers will say that the project is about implementing a new CRM system, but that’s not why we do the project. Instead, ask, “Why do we want the CRM system?” The answer may be “to manage our data more effectively, providing a single source of truth for our customer information.” See — you’ve just gone to a higher-level purpose. Next, ask yourself again why you want this outcome, and you may come up with “to provide a more personalized and responsive service.” You just went to a higher level again, and a higher priority of thinking based on what’s more essential for your company. Then ask again: “Why do we want to provide a more personalized service?” “Because we want our customers to be delighted with our services and retain them over the long term, which will lead to higher revenues.”

We’ve now moved the purpose of our project from installing a new CRM system to a project that will increase customer satisfaction and improve sales performance. What a difference. Now, we have a project whose purpose connects with the organization’s strategy and will motivate project team members.

Once you’ve gotten to the real reason behind your change project, ask “By when?” and “How much?”. Here’s an example: “We’ll increase customer satisfaction by 50% for our next customer survey, which will take place in five months.” Now, you have a specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-based goal, what I call a SMART purpose.

Every successful change project needs at least one clearly-articulated SMART purpose.

Benefits: The Key to Obtaining Buy-In From Stakeholders

Traditional change management practices have focused on the inputs and outputs — things like plans, schedules, budgets, deliverables, teams, etc. A change initiative is considered successful if it is delivered on time, on budget, and within scope. Yet, what matters most are the outcomes and benefits delivered, such as happier employees, returning customers, more sustainable practices, etc.

A great example of putting the focus on benefits is a sustainability transformation. Sustainability has become one of the most profound challenges of our time and a priority topic on most CEO’s agendas. Consider this example from Procter & Gamble (P&G): Marc Pritchard, a top marketer at P&G, has recently described how the world’s biggest consumer goods company is embracing sustainability to transform its brands. Or, as he puts it, to make P&G “a force for good and a force for growth.” As part of its new Ambition 2030 plan, P&G has pledged to make all its packaging fully recyclable or reusable by 2030. The company also plans to use 100% renewable energy and have zero net waste by that point.

While benefits might be easy to claim, they’re far more challenging to validate and measure, mainly when they’re accruing over time. Since a change project’s success should be measured by the benefits achieved, the process you use for identifying and mapping the benefits must be inclusive and transparent.

(Video) Navigate and Embrace Change | Simon Sinek

Each project will bring different benefits to different stakeholders. Change managers and project leaders should identify the main benefit expectations for each key stakeholder early in the transformation. Here is a simple approach to identifying the main benefits of your change projects:

  • Develop a benefits card, which is a checklist of the potential benefits of change projects. Here is an example of the potential benefits of a digital transformation project:
Organize Your Change Initiative Around Purpose and Benefits (1)

  • Instead of you defining the expected benefits of your project, meet your key stakeholders and with the help of the benefit card, ask them which benefits they would like to obtain from your change project. For instance, in a digital transformation project, the sales manager would like to see an increase in revenues from top customers.
  • Ask the key stakeholders to tell you how to measure the benefits, and when they would like to see the benefits delivered. For example, you could have a benefit of enhancing customer experience by increasing the net promoter score from 50 to 80 in five months.
  • Show the link between your change initiative, its benefits, and the organizations’ strategy to help reassure your stakeholders of the project’s credibility — for example, how your digital transformation will help your organization increase its competitive advantage.
  • Plot the benefits into a benefit plan, which you should use to show progress when communicating with key stakeholders.
Organize Your Change Initiative Around Purpose and Benefits (2)

By using this approach, you’ll see that the level of engagement and buy-in on your initiative will significantly increase.

Today, organizations need to change regardless of whether they are successful or not. They can not wait years to start obtaining benefits; leaders need to create value faster than ever. Constant transformation has become a top priority. Therefore, change management is now an essential business priority that can’t be overlooked or set aside; leaders must start adopting new concepts like purpose and benefits. And they need to urgently develop change and project management competencies across all levels of an organization, from employees and managers to senior executives. Some visionary leaders have already embarked on this transformation, and if you hesitate or wait too long, you might be putting the future of your organization seriously at stake. If there’s one thing that’s certain about the future, it’s that change is here to stay.

(Video) Chance of Success of Your Change Initiative


What are the benefits of change in an organization? ›

Change in an organization leads to many positive aspects – that lead to retaining a competitive edge and also remaining relevant in your business area. Change encourages innovation, develops skills, develops staff and leads to better business opportunities, and improves staff morale.

How do you prepare an organization for change? ›

In this article, PulseLearning presents six key steps to effective organizational change management.
  1. Clearly define the change and align it to business goals. ...
  2. Determine impacts and those affected. ...
  3. Develop a communication strategy. ...
  4. Provide effective training. ...
  5. Implement a support structure. ...
  6. Measure the change process.
Mar 16, 2022

How do change management plans support the success of an initiative? ›

An effective change management plan ensures that the employees are guided through the change journey and supports a smooth transition to change. Whether it's minor policy changes that impact a single department or a full-scale overhaul of your leadership team.

Why is it important to manage change in an Organisation? ›

The proactiveness of organisations in dealing with change will determine whether or not a company is able to adopt a new process or system. Therefore, for companies, change management helps to speed up transformations and, as a result, to make this ability a hallmark for the future.

What are 4 benefits of change? ›

Some of these benefits include improved communication, increased productivity, reduced stress and improved decision making.

What are three benefits of change? ›

7 Powerful Reasons Why Change Is Good For You
  • You gain confidence. When we succumb to change, we find out what we're really made of. ...
  • You become more flexible. ...
  • Your lifestyle is enhanced. ...
  • You are more motivated. ...
  • You develop more skills. ...
  • You become more compassionate. ...
  • You attract more opportunities.

How do you manage change interview question and answer? ›

How to answer, "How do you handle change?"
  1. Identify your strengths. Think about your strengths and how they helped you handle change. ...
  2. Reflect on your experiences handling change. ...
  3. Describe the outcome in your example. ...
  4. Highlight what you've learned. ...
  5. Use the STAR technique.
Mar 10, 2023

What are the 4 steps in the change process? ›

When change is first introduced at work, the people affected will typically go through four stages. These can be visualised on the change curve. The stages are shock, anger, acceptance and commitment.

What is an example of a successful change initiative within an organization? ›

Some of the most common examples when change management is necessary to successfully implement changes within organizations include: Implementation of a new technology. Mergers & acquisitions. Change in leadership.

How do you implement a change initiative? ›

How to Implement Change in the Workplace in 8 Steps
  1. Identify what changes you need to make. ...
  2. Establish clear change leaders. ...
  3. Make a change plan. ...
  4. Prepare teams and individuals for the changes. ...
  5. Talk about changes and timelines with your team. ...
  6. Share documentation with your team. ...
  7. Institute the change. ...
  8. Sustain momentum.
May 26, 2022

How do you lead a change initiative? ›

5 Ways to Lead a Change Management Initiative: Project Manager As Change Manager
  1. Sell the need for change by broadcasting a vision. ...
  2. Enlist, deputize and motivate key people. ...
  3. Look for low-hanging fruit. ...
  4. Broadcast the successes. ...
  5. Systemize new processes around the change.

What is the most important part of change management? ›

Communication. Communication is the cornerstone of any successful change management process. It is the golden thread that ties everything together — any objective is within reach if you create the right dialogue. Good communication helps you navigate through the fears and frustration that change may incite.

What are the 3 main types of change? ›

There are three types of change that all managers have to be aware of: these are Developmental Change; Transitional Change and Transformational Change.

What is an example of organizational change? ›

Organizational change examples include going from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce, completely rebuilding the website, launching a new department, or switching from a silo structure to a matrix. Many examples of change in the workplace fall in between these two poles. They're incremental and gradual.

How do you make positive changes in the workplace? ›

Let us see how positive leaders integrate positive changes into the culture and functioning of a business.
  1. Promoting optimism in the workplace. ...
  2. Effective feedback sharing. ...
  3. Turning challenges into opportunities. ...
  4. Endorsing empathy. ...
  5. Empowering team members. ...
  6. Recognising efforts and not only outcomes.

What are the three C's for change? ›

The three-C principle can help you overcome this change management challenge. Managers should ensure the changes they are communicating are clear, compelling, and credible.

What are the 5 positive aspects of change? ›

Positive Aspects of Change
  • The Creation of New Opportunities. Without change survival would be impossible. ...
  • Keeping You Flexible. ...
  • Building Self-Confidence. ...
  • You Can Be Educated. ...
  • You Can Focus On Your Priorities. ...
  • It Can Build Your Strengths.
Jan 24, 2008

What is the purpose of change and why it is important? ›

Change Means Progress

If you don't like the road ahead then making a change could lead to a promotion, a happier lifestyle or even a sense of fulfilment. Your goal should always be to progress and enacting changes such as training and learning is the best way to do it.

Why is it important to have change? ›

Change allows you to see what's important to you.

Change can help you become more focused in your life and know what you want out of it. When you experience changes, it can create a ripple effect. This can affect everything in your life, including your relationships.

How do you realize the benefits of a change? ›

3 Key Tips
  1. Ensure that the benefit can be measured or tracked in some way – too often people identify benefits which cannot be tracked.
  2. Baseline the situation before the change occurs so there is an accurate way to compare.

What are the 7 factors of successful change? ›

The 7 Factors that Make Projects Succeed or Fail. Effective change requires Vision, Alignment, Resources, Plan, Skill, Incentives, and Communication.

What are the 3 stages of successful change management? ›

Through this organizational change management process, change practitioners work through three phases (Phase 1– Prepare Approach, Phase 2 – Manage Change, Phase 3 – Sustain Outcomes) to achieve successful project outcomes.

What are the 7 factors of change management? ›

How to manage change successfully
  • Plan for change. Before undertaking any change, a business needs to have a clear and valid reason and mission for the change process. ...
  • Communicate the why and how of change. ...
  • Integrate. ...
  • Motivate staff to embrace change. ...
  • Embrace change with confidence. ...
  • Create space for people to adjust. ...
  • Evaluate.
Jan 24, 2021

What is the best way to manage change in the workplace? ›

Managing any changes in your workplace can be tricky but here are our Top Ten Tips:
  1. Understand the change process. ...
  2. Figure out why changes are needed. ...
  3. Create a plan of action. ...
  4. Engage with your workforce. ...
  5. Communicate your plans to employees. ...
  6. Listen to feedback. ...
  7. Communicate your plans to stakeholders. ...
  8. Plan for every eventuality.

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

Taking steps to manage stress
  1. Track your stressors. Keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. ...
  2. Develop healthy responses. ...
  3. Establish boundaries. ...
  4. Take time to recharge. ...
  5. Learn how to relax. ...
  6. Talk to your supervisor. ...
  7. Get some support.
Jul 1, 2014

Can you give an example of a suggestion you made that was implemented? ›

Your example of ideas you have implemented should probably look something like this: At my previous work, I had the idea to dedicate a few hours on Fridays to reviewing our efficiency. Our workload was lighter on Fridays anyway, so we were able to spend some time improving our work.

What are the 4 C's of change management? ›

Hiring a Change Management Professional

The 4 C's of a world-class change manager—commitment, connections, communication and creativity—may represent innate personality traits, trained capabilities, or most likely a combination of the two.

What are the 4 implementation approach for change initiative? ›

Successful change management relies on four core principles: Understand Change. Plan Change. Implement Change.

What are the 4 key components in Leading Change & Managing change? ›

Leading the Change Process: 4 Critical Components that Help Deliver Successful, Sustainable Results
  • PLANNING: View Change Management as a true business partner. ...
  • ALIGNMENT: Make the connection to the top. ...
  • CHANGE LEADERSHIP APPROACH: Ensure it is specific and unique to your company.
Aug 12, 2022

What is an example of a change initiative? ›

Change Initiative Examples

Common examples of when change initiative is necessary within an organization include: Implementation of new technology. Mergers & acquisitions. Change in leadership.

What are three 3 key strategic initiatives for your organization? ›

The three tenets of successful initiative execution are discipline, transparency, and efficiency.

How do you describe change initiative? ›

Change initiatives are projects that aim to improve an organization's performance, processes, products, or culture. They can be driven by internal or external factors, such as customer feedback, market trends, innovation, or strategic goals.

What makes a change initiative successful? ›

Successful organizational change requires a vision that details the reason for change, how it will impact employees, and what the end result will be. People need to have a clear line of sight that helps them see how things will change and how the company will be better once the change is implemented effectively.

What is an organizational change initiative? ›

Organizational change is the action a business takes to change any of its underlying components, such as processes, culture, people, product, infrastructure, or technology. When an organizational change initiative is decided on and announced, the responsibility to implement it is generally placed on managers.

What are 4 elements of initiative? ›

Innovation requires collaboration, ideation, implementation and value creation. Community developers actively engaged in innovation illustrated each of these elements during breakout sessions. They shared replicable concepts, programs and initiatives that are showing real results.

What is the first step in any change initiative? ›

If you not clear on how your organization works, thinks, operates, and functions as a whole, the first step in a change initiative is to examine that aspect so you have a strong understanding and foundation to build upon.

What is one way to build your initiative? ›

Top strategies to show initiative.

Ask questions. Find opportunities to improve processes. Ask for more responsibilities. Volunteer to help.

What is the main goal of change management? ›

The purpose of the Change Management process is to control the lifecycle of all changes, enabling beneficial changes to be made with minimum disruption to IT services.

What are the 4 factors of change? ›

One of the big reasons change can be so hard on employees and companies is that it's difficult to agree on the factors that impact transformative efforts.
  • Fly or Die. Harold L. ...
  • 1 Duration. ...
  • 2 Integrity. ...
  • 3 Commitment. ...
  • 4 Effort. ...
  • DICE:a language for change.
Jul 8, 2017

What are the two main kinds of change? ›

The changes are of two types: Physical and chemical change.

What are the steps of planned change? ›

Planned change requires managers to follow an eight‐step process for successful implementations, which is illustrated in Figure 1.
  1. Recognize the need for change. ...
  2. Develop the goals of the change. ...
  3. Select a change agent. ...
  4. Diagnose the current climate. ...
  5. Select an implementation method. ...
  6. Develop a plan. ...
  7. Implement the plan.

What is 1 best practice in terms of organizational change? ›

Supporting the change by giving consistent attention to the change and the need for change management. Championing the change by leading and motivating others in the organization. Making effective and influential decisions regarding the change, including aligning priorities among other leaders in the organization.

What are the 5 most common types of organizational change? ›

Do You Know All 5 Types of Organizational Change?
  • Organization-wide change.
  • Transformational change.
  • Personnel change.
  • Unplanned change.
  • Remedial change.

What are the impacts of change on the organisation? ›

The benefits of change include things like increased efficiency, improved customer service, or increased profits. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits of change carefully before making a decision. This will help to ensure that the changes are actually beneficial to the organization.

Why is change important to growth? ›

Change can help you grow as a person.

Change allows you to explore new things and learn from different experiences. This will help you grow as a person as you can now understand more about yourself, your limits, and your desires. What are your passions and interests?

What is the importance and benefits of organizational development and change? ›

Organizational development enables a company to continually improve its processes and offerings. By helping make strategic choices in all activities that the organisation does, OD helps improve efficiency. This tends to produce better outputs with the same or reduced levels of inputs.

What are the benefits of transformational change? ›

The key benefits of transformational change include increased employee engagement, improved performance, and higher levels of creativity and innovation.

How do you manage change effectively? ›

5 Steps in the Change Management Process
  1. Prepare the Organization for Change. ...
  2. Craft a Vision and Plan for Change. ...
  3. Implement the Changes. ...
  4. Embed Changes Within Company Culture and Practices. ...
  5. Review Progress and Analyze Results.
Mar 19, 2020

What is an example of a change impact? ›

Here are some examples: A new digital adoption program implements new technology. This can also impact individuals' workflows, business processes, customer experiences, and more. A department is restructured during an acquisition.

How do you grow through change? ›

To embrace change, we need to concentrate on five areas.
  1. Focus on a vision. Our vision or imagination guides everything we do. ...
  2. Choose your outlook. We reach another milestone in our growth when we accept responsibility for our emotions. ...
  3. Seek authenticity. ...
  4. Commit ourselves with discipline. ...
  5. Continually grow and develop.

What is the main purpose of organizational development? ›

The purpose of OD is to enable an organization to better respond and adapt to industry/market changes and technological advances.

How can organization development be improved? ›

10 Tips to Improve Your Company's Organizational Culture
  1. Create and communicate meaningful values. ...
  2. Conduct proper selection. ...
  3. Improve orientation and onboarding. ...
  4. Enable and empower employees. ...
  5. Engage employees all year round. ...
  6. Coach employees. ...
  7. Communicate effectively with employees.
Sep 24, 2019

What are the 5 stages of organizational development? ›

The 5 Step Organisational Development (O.D.) Process
  • Identify the needs of the organisation. ...
  • Decide on how to address those needs. ...
  • Select your intervention. ...
  • Implement the intervention. ...
  • Evaluating the impact.

What is the best leadership style? ›

1. Authoritative Leadership. The authoritative leader knows the mission, is confident in working toward it, and empowers team members to take charge just as she is. The authoritative leader uses vision to drive strategy and encourages team members to use their strengths and emerge as leaders themselves.

What does effective leadership mean to you? ›

Effective leadership is the ability of a leader to execute a company's vision and create a work culture that allows employees to contribute meaningfully to the achievement of their employer's goals.


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