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Thursday, 06 June 2013 04:50

Change management consultants: "You're too expensive!"

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Last week I got a call from a colleague:  "Well, it's happened again," she sighed.  "My prospective client just spent $2.5 million on a new accounting system to unite their global operations, but they told me that my $50,000 change management strategy - to make sure the system is implemented effectively - is too expensive."

If you're reading this, you've probably experienced the same thing, either as a consultant or as a change leader within an organization.  You watch senior leadership spend millions on a great idea - and then watch as that idea fails to launch because someone thought the implementation of that idea suddenly seemed 'too expensive'.

But here's the thing:  Change handled badly costs more money - because it's never over.

The problem is that the cost of badly-managed change is never properly quantified.  When a good idea goes wrong, there is never any shortage of excuses:  "The market wasn't ready," or "The marketing strategy wasn't effective," or "The technology never worked properly."  But rarely does anyone - well, outside of the change management consultants, who by that time aren't in the room - suggest that maybe the problem was simply that the change process wasn't managed by a professional.

Change Architecture, or Change Management, isn't sexy.  Neither is your electric bill.  But, like electricity, change management makes good economic sense because it enables other stuff to get done.  Here's how change management delivers value:

  • Clarity about the change.  The kind of clarity that means people spend less time asking each other what they think the change means and more time working on their projects and deliverables
  • Clarity about the direction.  So the organization's top performers don't put 'update my resume and call a recruiter' at the top of their to-do list, instead of the tasks they're paid to do
  • A communication plan with clearly articulated goals.  So leaders and employees spend less time interpreting what the change is about and what it means, and more time actually working toward the business goals the change is designed to help achieve
  • Change focus.  One of the biggest risks for big change is a loss of focus - which can mean serious and steep declines in the bottom line.  Without an independent change expert to keep the organization on track, an otherwise-great initiative can become derailed because no one is keeping their eye on the ball
  • Tactical monitoring.  I've written before that it's important for employees - not external consultants - to own the change management process, but bringing in a third-party change management expert to oversee the tactical implementation of a change will mean that fewer balls get dropped

You think you can't afford a change management consultant?  In my opinion, you can't afford not to hire one.  Without a change management expert, you'll end up spending more money than you planned, without getting the results you wanted - and you won't know how it happened.

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Beth Banks Cohn, PhD, founder and president of ADRA Change Architects, is dedicated to helping you and your organization reach your full business potential…
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