The need for why and the importance of how?

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Posted by APM on 2nd Mar 2015

On 26th February 2015, Neil White, a change management specialist and Secretary of the APM Benefits Management SIG, gave a presentation to the Thames Valley Branch entitled ‘The need for Why and the importance of How’.  Neil described how answers to these two key questions help pave the way for successful change outcomes. 


The backdrop for the presentation was the rate and scale of world change, with the scene being set for it to change even faster. Neil described how so much change is a product of our Capitalist way of living and that as long as profit is favoured over societal values, then we must be prepared to tolerate continual change. 
Supported by Merv Wyeth, Chairman of the APM Programme Management SIG, the presentation by Neil was interactive and included audience participation, starting with a ‘just for fun’ quiz to guess the dates of some of the top twenty five inventions of all time. A ‘throwable’ microphone was used to good effect to let people share their thoughts on what the benefits and dis-benefits of each invention had been. The dates of these inventions were plotted on a graph to describe the exponential increase in technologically determined change. It was emphasised that Technology enabled innovation – continues to revolutionise the way we work and has opened up vast number of new markets. It has reduced cost and raised expectations and is undoubtedly the greatest catalyst for change in modern times – today though, such developments almost always result in a loss of jobs.

The impact that globalisation is having on the world and that we were increasingly exposed to world events which we have little warning and no control over, but to which we have little choice but to respond was described. Globalisation (enabled through technology) is one of today’s greatest change drivers. Our customers are now our competitors; they have learned to innovate for themselves and of course we had already enabled their ability to manufacture! 


How certain aspects of economically driven change can be forecast and how the scene is set for a good period of growth and prosperity was described. However, where the wealth is down to technological progress it almost always increases the wealth of the already wealthy.

Using an ‘Individuals and change’ curve diagram, Neil described the typical journey people experience when involved with change and then invited the audience to plot their own top 5 experiences on to the diagram.

Neil referred to a number of specific change management principles to describe the reason why the question WHY is so important to stakeholders. A key message was the role that 'respect' plays in meeting the change challenges faced by our organisations. He emphasised that people must be increasingly respected as the most powerful and long-lasting tool in the armoury.

Such is our need for shorter and more dynamic change lifecycles that an organisation’s people should not only be involved in the change process but also enabled to resolve how objectives are to be achieved for themselves.


The importance of Benefits Management during any organisational change was discussed and how the ultimate success of any change project is directly related to the identification of people who will take on the responsibility for the realisation of benefits.  

Neil explained how we already have the tools and disciplines needed to effect organisational change successfully, but that success depended on how our organisations choose to implement them.  Neil explained the importance for organisations to develop and continually adapt their own ‘unique’ change management capabilities, whilst at the same time recognising the interdependency between organisational change, business change and P3 disciplines.

Prior to a short Q & A session to close off the presentation, the audience were asked to plot on a diagram their own views of how mature their particular organisation was with regards to the management of: organisational change; benefits realisation; business change and 3P.  The analysis of the data gathered will be used to support a short paper by Neil White that will be published on the TVB web page in the near future.

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