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Common factors for managing successful change, 6th Sep 2016

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Just under 30 people attended this evening event at UCLan’s campus near the sea-side town of Whitehaven in Cumbria.

The organisations represented included Sellafield, the local Borough Council and NHS Trust, Jacobs, Arup and more.  Interestingly, although none of those present described themselves as actual change practitioners, it quickly became apparent that there was a lot of expertise in the room around the management of change programmes. Delegates’ roles included portfolio, PMO, programme, project and business management.  Some people had multiple roles and some had come from a process improvement background.

The kind of change programmes being managed by delegates ranged from designing and building new plants and facilities, through to upgrading IT, making staff cuts, adopting apprenticeship schemes and revising core and back office services.

The evening proved an excellent opportunity to test out the Enabling Change SIG’s emerging list of key themes for change:

  • Formulate a clear vision and strategy, supported by well-defined benefits
  • Ensure strong leadership and sponsorship
  • Define and follow a well-structured approach
  • Understand, engage with, build commitment from and support key stakeholders
  • Build a strong change team with the necessary capabilities for success
  • Measure the success of the change initiative

Delegates said that there needed to be a compelling reason for change, and that programmes should be regularly reviewed to ensure that the drivers had not changed.

There was some obviously strong feeling around the need for effective leadership from the top of the organisation, including visibility and ownership, and the importance of clear and two-way communication.

We discussed the fact that resistance to change is something natural and that we should seek to understand it.  One delegate suggested that we ask people to list their 25 reasons for resisting any given change to give us a head start when designing our programmes.

We also discussed the importance of pausing and taking time every now and then to reflect on what had been achieved in a change programme, and celebrating it, as it can be all too easy to just keep ploughing on and worrying about what else should be done.

On the whole the delegates confirmed that the SIG’s list of common factors for change was complete, and they provided some useful additional detail to add beneath the headings. 

This detail included recognising that change teams can involve more than one organisation through collaboration or partnership, and that this also added complexity in terms of stakeholder management.

The structured approach to change should also take account of lessons learned: making sure that new change programmes benefited from the learnings from previous programmes.

The slides included with this report contain a more detailed write-up of the delegates’ comments, as well as the slides presented during the seminar.

The Enabling Change SIG’s next opportunity to share and obtain input on its common factors for successful change will be at its one-day event with the South Wales West of England (SWWE) Branch on the 29th September. 

In the meantime, if you have additional feedback on this topic, please get in touch with Elisabeth Goodman at, or post a comment on the Enabling Change SIG’s page.  

Elisabeth Goodman

Enabling Change SIG committee member




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