One of the biggest barriers to new projects and business transformation is a lack of communication. Learn what a case for change is, as well as how it builds awareness, creates support and minimizes resistance, so your project runs smoother. We share top questions to include to make sure your case for change is effective.
Programs and projects fail for various reasons, including a poorly defined or nonexistent case for change. When embarking on a new project, we often hear, “Last time we tried this, but it didn’t work out how we’d hoped. What can you do to help us realize the benefits we’re expecting from this program?”
Let’s take a deeper look at why this continues to be an issue in so many companies. One of the major causes of project failure is a lack of communication regarding the project and its benefits. Creating a case for significant change can mean the difference between success and failure.
Often, senior leaders agree to a change and walk out of the room with a high-level overview of the project. Without a strong case for change, you get mixed messages and different perspectives from leaders end up flavoring what their respective departments hear.
What is a Case for Change?
Significant research shows that many people don’t like — or support — change initiatives. In fact, according to Gartner research, employees’ willingness to support enterprise change has decreased significantly, from 74 percent in 2016 to 43 percent in 2022.
A case for change encompasses the reasoning behind implementing a new project and its value, which will help build awareness, support for, and commitment to the project. A solid case for change will outline the project scope, a timeline and projected outcomes.
Here are the most pertinent questions your case for change should answer.
1. What is the justification for the project, and how will it benefit stakeholders?
A key component of any organizational transformation is a clear statement of why you are making a change. When you give your people perspective on the decision making behind the project and why it should matter to them, it reduces any confusion. It minimizes potential misinformation about the project and its goals.
People are more open to supporting new ways of doing business when they understand the rationale and what’s in it for them. Communicating these key elements will build support for the change and help minimize resistance.
2. What is the process?
Once your people understand the “why,” covering the “what and how” surrounding the change event is equally important. Your case for change should share schedules, responsibilities and expectations.
We’ve found one of the most significant barriers to change is fear of the unknown. Demystify the change. Let your stakeholders know how you define success and their part in achieving it. What are you hoping to gain? And what are your expectations for your stakeholders?
3. What is the opportunity cost?
In other words, what is the cost of not implementing this change? This question often creates a eureka moment. You can’t only focus on how a project will benefit your organization. In building support for your initiative, use your case for change to identify and calculate the costs associated with not implementing the project.
Some projects will make you a better, more efficient company. Others will provide an opportunity to sunset expensive, outdated systems as well as the costs associated with maintaining the technology. You might be able to terminate service contracts that no longer provide value. Whatever the value or potential losses if you don’t take on a project, make sure you articulate it in your case for change.
Ask yourself, what will we be able to do in the future based upon what we accomplish today?
Creating Project Clarity
When you have a new initiative, are you working on a strong message about what is happening, why you are doing it and what you hope to gain? This type of clarity will help you gain support, identify potential resistance and enhance commitment to the project.
Building a solid case for change at the beginning of your program will lay the foundation for your stakeholders to become informed, inspired and committed to the success of the initiative.