Easy change

When you are first faced with a change project it can be a bit overwhelming and difficult to know where to start. When you search for ideas there is lots of information available but all this information can also be overwhelming. Some change specialists have made Change Management a science. I have worked on change projects where longer is spent managing and updating the project plan than anything else.

I prefer to keep things simple – very simple. Simple works and the good thing is once you have a simple structure under your belt then you can add in more complexity if you want to.

So how can you plan for and implement a change programme the simple way?

1.     Understand the need for change

Make sure you understand what / who is driving the changes and also what they expect from the change and what they want it to look like. Check out budget for the change and timescales to implement.

2.     Research

This is the time for you to research the change and gather your own thoughts. It’s an opportunity to gather your thoughts, data and information. Identifying potential risks or problem areas for the change.

3.       Create an outline – The Big Plan

This is not a detailed plan but may include some milestones and stages of the plan. Also identifying impact on areas of the business and resource needs and implications. Get sign off for the top line plan.

4.       Communicate The Big Plan

This is the start of really involving people and avoiding speculation. Every employee needs to be communicated with and needs to be aware that change is happening and why it needs to happen. At this stage you won’t have all the detail to communicate but it is to make sure that there are no surprises and that people have an idea of The Big Plan, timescales and any potential impact on their roles. A key message to get across is that they will be kept informed.

5.     Create the Change Team and drill down The Big Plan into The Detailed Plan

It maybe that you are the “Change Team” and might not have the luxury of a team but if you do then this is a period of creating plans covering practical issues, risks, impact on customers / departments, any restructuring plans, any potential redundancies, any training required etc. The more detail the better. To keep this simple then your plan could be created using word or excel. Sometimes project management tools can make your plan over complicated. It depends on your comfort zone.

6.     Communicate The Detailed Plan

Communication is key. This is the time that all managers need to be thinking about the people side of the change. The Emotional Change Curve will set in and people will have questions that need answering. Every person will need an opportunity to speak. Communication is best done a few different ways – top down, big meetings, smaller team meetings and 121 through line management.


7.       Deal with the People  – Restructure and Training

If the change will impact on people’s roles and potentially some people will lose their jobs then this stage needs to be thought out. You will need to communicate a planned new structure, create new job descriptions, interview people but also help people who are to be made redundant get other roles either in the business somewhere else or gain new jobs outside the company. In addition to this you will need to start training people for the new way of working.

8.     Communicate Regularly

Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Make sure people know what is happening – don’t assume they know or understand. Communicate any updates to the plan and celebrate successes as you go along.

9.     Go Live

You will have outlined in your plan whether you go live all at once or start small and build. The important thing to remember here is to allow people to make mistakes and there to be a period of chaos and discomfort.

10.      Review and Tweak

Always important to plan in review meetings to iron out glitches, share learnings etc.


Simplifying processes can take away some of the stress associated with managing change projects. When we learn we learn in chucks, a little like completing a jigsaw puzzle. The more pieces we get in the right place the more the picture becomes clearer. We start with easy jigsaws and work up to more complex puzzles. This step by step approach can really help when faced with big challenges or change projects at work. Of course there are some people who like a lot more detail and information but generally simple steps can really help to embed and learn from experience.

Time to Reflect: Have you got an example of how simplifying a process has helped you?