Business Analysis through the lens of Change Management

Most organisations today operate in environments which demand constant evolution and adaptation and for many continuous change has become, both critical to success and the only constant of organisational life.

While it is doubtless the case that change is becoming more and more important, the evidence suggests that the majority of organisations are struggling to do it well. Circa 70% of major change initiatives still fail (HBR 2014), and in Prosci’s 2018 Best Practices Research 73% of organisations reported being past, at, or nearing change saturation point. 

So what’s to be done? Change Management has become increasingly recognised as a discipline over the last 20 years or so, and provides frameworks and tools that when effectively applied have been proven to increase both the probability of achieving successful outcomes from change, and change capacity.

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Perhaps the answer then is for organisations to focus more on building enterprise change management capability to ensure consistent application across their change portfolio? This is an idea we strongly support, and it’s a large part of what we do, however in our view while critical it is not sufficient. 

Why? -It’s not sufficient because Change Management is a process for engaging with people and getting them to make individual transitions from one way of working to a future way of working, and as such is entirely dependent on timely, relevant, meaningful information about the change as an input. Without this information input, Change Management cannot be effective, no matter how comprehensively applied.

The opportunity for Business Analysis

My experience of working with many hundreds of individuals involved in managing change strongly suggests an inadequate focus on generating the information inputs required for Change Management to succeed. It is providing this focus which represents an opportunity for Business Analysis through which it could substantially build on the value already provided to the organisations it serves.

To be more specific, achieving successful change requires individuals to move through a number of stages. We use Prosci’s ADKAR model made up of the 5 stages of Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. Achieving the stages within this model requires timely, relevant, meaningful information at each stage, which Business Analysis could, but currently typically doesn’t provide.

  • Awareness: Requires evidence based, factual rationale for why the change is needed and the consequences of failure.
  • Desire: Requires spelling out “What’s In It for Me” for everyone impacted.
  • Knowledge & Ability: Requires clarity on future state processes, outcomes, accountability, roles and responsibilities and technology support.
  • Reinforcement: Requires clear metrics and measurement mechanisms.

In addition to meeting the requirements above, it is also vital that both design of analytical products, and the process for their development maximises the potential to develop intrinsic motivation. Business analysis should motivate both through its products and its process.

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In summary, looking at Business Analysis through the lens of Change Management reveals an opportunity for Business Analysts to be proactive in enabling Change Management through turning their analytical skills to delivering the specific range of analytical inputs that change management requires for success. Exploiting this opportunity holds the promise of both further increasing the value Business Analysis delivers, and also removing a major limiting factor on the success Change Management is achieving today.

Steve Ragg is a CMC Prosci Advanced Instructor. He has experience in delivering major change initiatives in the UK National Health Services, the Pharmaceutical Industry, the Financial Services Industry and a Global Humanitarian Relief organisation.

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