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9 insights on change management from transformation leaders

Insights from change leaders on how to manage transformation projects successfully.

10 Feb 2023 | 5 min read

What is change management? Why do some change programmes succeed while others don’t achieve their objectives?  Rungway put these questions to five transformation leaders, who shared some of the strategies they’ve used to facilitate lasting transformation in large organisations, and insights from their own experiences managing change. 

Write a ‘postcard from the future’

There are many, many reasons to kick off for what people might call a “transformation programme”. But for me, it's about where do you want to get to? What do you consider success to be? A postcard from the future is one of my favourite tools for transformation. Time travel yourself to the end of the Transformation - what does it look like? What does it feel like? What have you achieved? Doing that forces you to define the operational parameters that make it a successful transformation in three years, five years or whatever your transformation horizon actually is. Essentially, what you want to do is take an organisation from where it is, fix the business problem, and take it to the next place. - Chris Barrett, Transformation Director,  Babble

Understand the fundamental fear of change

I think the first thing to recognise is that most people don't want to change. A lot of people are comfortable in what they're doing. And even if they are relatively unhappy, they are more comfortable with that unhappiness than they are with the fear of change. So I think it is fundamentally a people thing where people tend to gravitate towards what they know rather than change. There are very few people who actively embrace change, because of the fear of failure, loss and the unknown that is written through it. It is one of the biggest challenges for any change project. - Simon Calvert, Head of Strategy, Merkle

Set a clear scope for your initiative

I think that a lot of organisations go into transformation without their eyes wide open or without accurate expectations of what it's going to take. So in order to do that, they need to make sure they’re scoping properly. Do they understand the scope of the change and what success looks like? Do they have access to the right capability? Not just external expertise but the right resources in the business that aren't part of the transformation programme. You can spend millions on a transformation programme, but if those talented transformation people have not got access to the subject matter experts in business, you are generally doomed to failure. - Chris Barrett, Transformation Director, Babble

Articulate a clear vision from the top

No one ever came out of a transformation programme saying, “well, we communicated too much on that one”. It just doesn't happen. There's never too much communication and that starts with the C-suite. Does the Chief Executive genuinely know what the transformation is aiming to achieve? And can they articulate that so people genuinely know what it will achieve? Do individuals within the programme know how their individual success will contribute to the organisation’s success? And do people actually know how the transformation programme is going to impact them in their day-to-day business-as-usual activities given that they may or may not be involved in the transformation themselves? - Chris Barrett, Transformation Director, Babble

Build camaraderie with a shared ‘enemy’

I've worked with a lot of companies that have created successful change based on creating an enemy - an outside organisation or something that they do not want to be. It’s a very simple way of moving people away from where they are into a new world because it makes it real for them.  It's a really good way of galvanising people as it creates a sense of camaraderie - you're in our team or you're out of our team. I think that's a deeply underestimated technique to drive change. - Simon Calvert, Head of Strategy, Merkle

Involve everyone in the process

We need to bring people on a journey, so the communication starts 12 weeks before anything is implemented. We set up something called a war room where employees can come out of their day job for 30 minutes, they can see a test system, what's going to change, what it looks like, they can ask questions, they can have a play right there. They have to be made aware, right from the start, of what the plan is, what the vision is and how we intend to get there. Involvement is a key part of the change journey, we want them to feel part of the change, have the opportunity to ask questions and tell us what they think about it. How should we implement it? It's all about them feeling involved right from the start. - Beth Evans, Head of Change and Culture, Bidfood UK

you need real-time data to track progress

So many companies are blind when it comes to how your change programme is progressing. Pulses, surveys, focus groups and town halls aren't enough to get the data and insights you really need. Firstly, they're just showing you a snapshot in time. You may take one survey at the beginning of a project asking how your people feel about change and compare it to one at the end of the project, but you have no idea how sentiment has fluctuated inbetween. Second, and even more crucially, you don't know why your people feel a certain way. Find a tool like Rungway that helps you track levels of resistance in real-time and allows you to be able to have 2-way conversations with your people that surfaces bottom-up feedback. This way you get the important information you need, and can react quickly. - Ollie Craddock, CEO of Rungway

Create a safe space for feedback

It’s important people feel psychologically safe in an organisation to give honest feedback. I think that often, what people say in a survey and what they really feel are not the same. So what I mean by psychological safety is that people feel safe to express the views and opinions that might differ to whatever the norm is, or what the flow is, or whatever the flavour is. When it’s a hierarchical organisation, that’s it's not easy. - Stan Horwitz, Head of Transformation,  LRQA

Lasting transformation takes time 

Change takes a lot longer than most people think it does. There's a great quote by someone who said, we often overestimate the pace of change, but we underestimate the impact of it. So, the ability to plan and pace change, in a way that is realistic, is also difficult to pull off. - Simon Calvert, Head of Strategy, Merkle


Rungway gives you actionable people insights that help you make organisational change happen. Whether you're looking to improve your culture, launch a transformation project, or continue with on-going change, then it's critical you bring your people on the journey with you. We help bridge the gap between leaders and employees through authentic and always-on 2-way conversations that surface crucial intel, whilst delivering unique data on your people so you can track your progress and react quickly when you need to.

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