The Formula for Assessing Organization Change Success

April 9, 2019

The Formula for Assessing Organization Change Success

The more complex a process is, the more difficult it is to measure. Organization change is inherently complex, as it typically impacts virtually every part of an organization and it's a process that involves human beings. Measuring how effective your change transformation has been is far more difficult to do than simply reading a chart or monitoring project milestones. But, doing so will enable you to truly determine how successful the change has been and what, if any, next steps may be. 

The question then is, “How can we measure something as complicated as transformational change in an organization?”

We recommend thinking of organization change as an equation with four variables. This will help clarify change results in a way that illustrates the actual value the change is bringing to the organization. 

4 Variables of Organization Change Measurement

Variable 1: Measure what was changed. The first step to measuring the impact of your change transformation is to take a hard look at your design choices in light of how well suited they are to the organization. Choose metrics that answer: 

  • How well aligned is the design to business strategy? 
  • How well does it fit with the organization’s culture? 
  • Are the design choices working in the marketplace? 

For example, say you want to establish a culture of innovation in your organization. You might first measure how well this new direction supports the strategic goals of your organization. You will also want to assess how it has impacted your corporate culture, as well as look at metrics that reflect how your culture of innovation is received in the marketplace. 

The four phases of change measurement are sequential, so be sure to fully address this part of the equation before moving on to the next. 

Variable 2: Measure implementation. It is more common than you might expect for organizations to go to great lengths to plan a change and then fail to follow through and implement it. Measuring how completely your design was implemented is, therefore, an important part of the change transformation measurement equation. Tracking metrics that measure implementation success will help you to better assess how well your change transformation is working as a whole. 

Variable 3: Measure behavior changes. Assuming your design blueprint was properly executed, the next step is to check to see that the changes actually resulted in changes in thinking and behavior. It’s not always easy to measure behavior, but because behavior must change for work performance to change, it’s an essential thing to track if you want to have an accurate idea of how well your organization change efforts are going. 

Let’s take a look again at our innovative culture example. Employee behaviors that affect innovation might include frequency of idea sharing, number of new proposals generated, and so forth. If you are not seeing changes in these types of metrics despite having made good design choices and followed through with proper implementation, you will need to re-examine your design blueprint, your implementation, and/or how well you communicated the change throughout the organization to determine what you need to adjust in order for the necessary behavior changes to happen. 

Variable 4: Measure overall outcomes of the organization. Only once we know that behaviors have indeed changed do we look at how the change is affecting actual business outcomes. Is the change bringing value to the marketplace in terms of improvements in sales, customer satisfaction, productivity, etc.? To continue with the innovative culture example, we might measure things like number of new ideas tried, revenue driven by new products, or percent of new ideas that result in larger initiatives. This is where actual progress—or lack of it—becomes apparent.

Even when a design blueprint is perfectly implemented, it doesn’t always bring about the envisioned results. However, moving from a simple evaluation of metrics to tracking in sequence the impact of design, implementation, behavior change, and outcome can help you to gain a more sophisticated understanding of how your change efforts are really playing out in your organization. Ultimately, this will allow you to pinpoint and fix issues earlier in the process of change transformation, so you can optimize your odds of success. 

The Authors: 

Reed Deshler is Principal of AlignOrg Solutions.