People Problems in Your Transformation? Enable your Strategy Realization Office to Manage Change Cohesively

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Even the best-managed strategic initiatives are at risk of colliding and spawning chaos if not cohesively managed; herein lies the foundational principle of a strategy realization office (SRO): to drive integration, communication and collaboration across multiple strategic initiatives and ultimately ensure the intended value of a program is realized on time and on budget. Current research shows only 45% of organizations have established an SRO; however, 100% of those report a positive impact on their transformation with 83% classifying the impact as “very positive.”

In a recent ISG survey, organizational resistance to change emerged as the top challenge for transformation programs. ISG Research also suggests 80% of transformations fail because people have difficulty adapting and adopting organizational change created by new business processes and/or technology.

These challenges play out in organizations as increased tension among senior leadership, diminished  trust between teams, misaligned priorities, increased frequency of ineffective meetings and teams struggling to make or adhere to decisions. Collectively, this results in significant churn and rework. Employee engagement and accountability drops, and, ultimately, value realization becomes a pipe dream as transformations become sluggish or fail altogether.

Although the positive impacts of SROs are well evangelized, even the best-intentioned SROs executing on the most promising business cases can still experience program failure if they do not effectively manage the people side of change. It’s imperative to include strategic integration of organizational adoption and communications at a program level (most effectively, through the SRO); workstream-level change management does not cut it.

Project-level workstreams may identify stakeholders, surface workstream-specific impacts, and accordingly create adoption and communication plans. However, those plans can quickly become ineffective if a holistic view of all impacts is not considered. The result: stakeholders become overwhelmed, frustrated and lack trust in the organization’s ability to manage the transformation. This can lead to resistance and an unwillingness to modify behaviors -- causing program failure.

With a bird’s-eye view of all initiatives, an SRO is able to not only identify how stakeholders will be impacted by various changes in operating models, processes and/or technology – but also how multiple impacts intersect. Given this holistic vantage point, the SRO can manage these intersections, when and  how they are communicated, and how the organization drives adoption of the holistic changes. When this is done from an overall program perspective, it derisks those feelings of inundation, frustration and lack of trust that often stem from uncoordinated communications and lack of holistic organizational adoption programs.

Lastly, it’s important the SRO is positioned within an executive office and that executive sponsor(s) do not deprioritize the importance of the people side of transformation. It’s easy to focus on the business case, but if people do not buy into the journey, the business case is unlikely to ever be realized.

ISG helps enterprises manage the human element of transformational change to better ensure realization of the enterprise’s strategy. Contact us to find out how we can help your organization.

About the author

Megan Walling is a Director in ISG.

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