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SAQs: SHOULD ASK questions

We are used to seeing FAQs, Frequently Asked Questions, on websites. Last week I heard about an interesting variation: SAQs, SHOULD ASK questions.

FAQs are the questions asked over and over again by customers. But are these the questions customers SHOULD be asking?  Typically, FAQs deal with the basic, practical information customers might need, but what they DON’T do is trigger a higher level dialogue with you about the added value your product or service provides them.

So, unlike an FAQ, an SAQ is a question you WANTyour potential customer to be asking, but they might not know they need to be asking.

In the area of business change, one of these Should Ask questions might be:

  • Is my project too complex for our people to cope with the changes?

Another might be:

  • Is there sufficient commitment to making the change on the part of the people involved?

Both key to the success of your project, I’m sure you’ll agree. But the reason you haven’t asked them, is that you probably didn’t know that there are useful answers available.

We can offer an approach which provides quantified, practical answers to these questions – questions you should be asking before investing in a project.

  • Is my project too complex for our people to cope with the changes? This means measuring the complexity of the project and the capability of your organization to handle the changes. Once these are known, a gap analysis will answer the question.
  • Is there sufficient commitment to making the change on the part of the people affected by the project? This requires three measured inputs:

a)    the amount and effectiveness of preparatory consultation and engagement

b)    a measure of the level of trust between people in your organisation

c)    the degree to which local managers are accountable for the improvement expected as a result of the project.

Combined, these will tell you whether your project will be pulled through or hindered by your people.

To arrive at objective and useful answers to all these questions, we use our Change Readiness Assessment tool. Based on Peter Duschinsky’s Change Equation methodology, published in 2009, this tool is used to measure the complexity of a project, and identify and quantify the cultural and process barriers to change in your organization.

It only takes a couple of days to carry out this assessment.

Can you really afford to invest in change without knowing the answers to these Should Ask Questions?

Contact us!

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November 10, 2012 Posted by | business change management, change capability, complexity, mergers and acquisitions, Project Readiness Healthcheck | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you could improve your change project’s ROI by 10%, what would that be worth to you?

In my seminar in February, I showed how the Change Equation methodology provides a way to quickly identify and quantify the barriers to a successful change project.

Due to the high demand for places at this free event, I have arranged to run another seminar on 25th March at the City Business Library at the Guildhall in London.

DATE:  2pm-4.30pm on Friday 25th March.

WHERE: City Business Library, Aldermanbury, London EC2V 7HH

TO BOOK: email cbl@cityoflondon.gov.uk

This seminar is free but you have to book your place in advance. Don’t leave it too late to book your place!

More information about the seminar at: http://www.imaginist.co.uk

Why attend the seminar?

Change projects have a tendency to fail – in fact only 70% ever deliver their full benefits.

Peter Duschinsky, Managing Director, The Imaginist Company, says that this is because most project managers and their bosses underestimate the complexity of their projects and overestimate the capability of the organisation to cope with change. That’s because project risk and complexity is not linear, but EXPONENTIAL.

Peter goes on to claim that conventional change management interventions designed to control the outcomes of a project will FAIL completely if it’s a truly complex project.

So how do you know if your project is complex? And how do you assess the capability of your organisation to cope with change? Come along and find out!

If you could improve your change programme’s ROI by 10%, what would that be worth to you?

Here’s what people said about the 2010 seminar series:

“Many thanks, Peter, for the seminar during the week, which I found very useful”

“Thanks Peter, I came away with plenty of food for thought after your seminar.”

“Just a short email to thank-you for this afternoons session. I found the content and your style very smooth making the knowledge easy to take in.”

“Thank you very much for the ‘How to manage complex change’ seminar, the ‘Management Culture’ model was excellent as well as the ‘Exponential Complexity.

March 8, 2011 Posted by | business change management, mergers and acquisitions, project and programme management, Project Readiness Healthcheck | Leave a comment

How do the “soft” elements (people, culture, innovation, etc.) impact the success of M&As?

I recently came across this question in a LinkedIn discussion and thought it worthy of a blog. Because we all agree that the ‘soft’ elements (people, culture, innovation etc.) represent the critical factor in the success or failure of a merger, don’t we?

The problem, as many of the contributions to the discussion pointed out, is how to convince senior management that the ‘just do it’ approach has a significant chance of failing. The secret, I have found, is to develop a quantified analysis and business case for time and resources to tackle these issues and to communicate this in a language that the Board understands – impact on the ROI of the project.

But how to turn ‘soft’ issues into hard financials?

I came up against this challenge when trying to argue the case for taking a more people-focused approach to change projects. It became clear to me in working with public sector organisations that most projects failed to deliver the planned benefits because the complexity of what they were trying to achieve was not within the capability of the organisation to cope with yet another change initiative. But senior management were not interested.

So I came up with a Change Readiness Healthcheck methodology to:

1. Map the predominant culture (or cultures – depending on the size of the organisation, there’s probably more than one) of the two organisations. For example, the level of knowledge sharing, silo working, alignment…

2. Assess the maturity of their capability to manage process – weakness here can spell disaster when it comes to bringing in new systems

3. Measure the level of distrust and lack of respect in relationships between people – the higher the high level of distrust, the harder it will be to achieve integration and the more time and effort you will need to overcome the barriers.

4. Establish where the project lies on an Exponential Complexity scale, from ‘Simple’ to ‘Too Complex’, where the components include the scope, number of stakeholders and timescales.

The resulting findings provide a ‘dashboard’ of indicators which accurately predict the potential for success and can be expressed in terms of quantified impact on the project business plan’s projected ROI.

With a merger, the first three factors are the critical ones. Map the organisational cultures of the two organisations, assess their process management capability and establish the relative levels of distrust. If these are very different between the organisations, or if they show significant weaknesses in both organisations, you are in for a bumpy ride and, at the very least, need to allocate a skilled and experienced manager to handling the transition and integration. Worst case, you have the ammunition to oppose the merger.

The most important stage in the merger is before you start. With the right insights, you stand a chance of investing wisely. Going in blind makes no sense. Companies understand this when it comes to balance sheets and financials, but don’t seem to have grasped the need for a parallel due diligence analysis of ‘capability’.

I advocate the use of the Change Readiness Healthcheck as a due diligence tool when planning a merger or acquisition, to supplement whatever other methods are used. There are no other methodologies around that I have found as useful, to help you to assess and benchmark these ‘soft’ aspects, quickly and objectively.

We can offer a rapid assessment for a specific M&A or help you build this into your standard due diligence process.

Peter Duschinsky

Tel: 07801802571

email: peterd@imaginist.co.uk

September 10, 2010 Posted by | business, business change management, M&A, mergers and acquisitions, project and programme management, Project Readiness Healthcheck | , , , , , | Leave a comment