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Monitoring the implementation of change

How can we ensure change stays on track? Here we look at ways to monitor the process, and identify and address any risks to it.
© Durham University

While monitoring implementation can cover many aspects of the process, our focus here, of course, is on people. Last week we talked about the importance of ensuring you receive feedback from your stakeholders and we’ll go on to consider how to act on this later this week. That is one important way to monitor (and respond to) how the implementation of change is proceeding.

Another important part of monitoring the implementation is to ensure you have developed a plan to manage risks. In Week 1, we considered the importance of identifying benefits but also important at the start of any change project would be to identify risks.

Much of what will happen during a transformation is uncertain anyway – so when do uncertainties become risks? One way to address this question is to review each task which is part of the implementation schedule looking for elements of uncertainty, such as a lack of suitably experienced people. If any uncertainties do not have serious constraints then they do not need to be flagged as a risk, for instance, if an organisation currently lacks employees with specific skills which are easy to recruit then this is not a risk.

Once the risks have been identified an assessment has to be made of whether the probability of the risk occurring is high, medium or low and the decision then needs to be made as to how to manage the risk and whether it should be avoided, transferred or mitigated.

As a leader or manager, you will need to decide on a risk management strategy for addressing risks once the probability is identified. This is the process whereby a decision is made as to whether the risk should be managed, contained, eliminated or accepted. Responses to this will depend on a number of factors – including the cost of minimising impact on the change initiative and the likelihood and severity of the risk to the project.

These actions have to be tracked through a risk register and the status of the risk and actions agreed and regularly updated, since events (internal or external) can occur which might reduce or increase the impact and probability of the risk – for example if a project manager involved in the initiative leaves the organisation. Proactive risk management will reduce not only the likelihood of an event occurring, but also the magnitude of its impact on the success of the change.

Reflection point

Take some time now to think about what the people-centred risks may have been on change projects you’ve been involved on, or are about to start. Think about the process above and what decisions you would need to make in order to guard against these risks becoming threats to the success of the initiative.

© Durham University
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Leading and Managing People-Centred Change

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