Given the pressure to remain competitive and keep pace with the changes in globalization and technology, your organization may be considering a large scale change or transformation effort (e.g., structural or process redesign, cost cutting measures, or cultural change initiative).

There are several critical success factors to any major change transformation. Senior leaders need to articulate a strong business case and provide a vision that will drive change efforts. Leaders also need to spend time on proper execution planning. Execution planning involves determining how change will be communicated and implemented throughout the organization.

With over 70% of change initiatives failing to meet their goals, the importance of spending time on proper execution planning cannot be overstated.

Based on more than 20 years of consulting on change projects, WLH Consulting, Inc. has developed a Change Framework for Execution Planning to ensure successful transformations.  The Execution Planning Framework is based on the following guiding principles:

  1. Change takes place more effectively when worked at three levels: organizational, team, and individual
  2. Change is adopted by connecting individual beliefs to organizational results
  3. Change requires a planned and disciplined implementation cascade with ongoing measurement to track success
  4. Change is accelerated by equipping leaders to lead through the transition
  5. Change implementation calls for frequent and ongoing communication and calibration

These guiding principles are informed by the existing literature and validated with hundreds of clients in both large and small organizations. Additional best practices for execution planning include the following:

  • Clearly define the business case for organizational change and build commitment by linking the change to the organization’s existing mission, vision, and values
  • Have leaders address the impact of these changes on their business responsibilities, their team(s), and individuals
  • Prepare leaders to effectively support others through the personal dynamics of the transition
  • Provide leaders with training and tools that help them translate higher-level strategic goals into specific team responsibilities, (e.g., identifying specific behaviors that individuals need to start, stop, and continue doing for effective alignment with the new strategy)
  • Use a cross-functional project team to customize the implementation cascade, communications, and other unique needs for your organization
  • Develop metrics for success to ensure the adoption of change by leaders, teams, and individuals
  • Ensure measurements and reporting can provide a picture of how individuals, teams, and the organization are adopting the changes, and share successes and lessons learned
Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

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