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What is a change readiness assessment, anyway?

Written by Intersol Group

As change management professionals, we stress the importance of doing a change readiness assessment at the beginning of a project. But what does that mean, exactly?

A change readiness assessment can take many different forms, and be more or less thorough depending on the situation. At the core, its purpose is to determine to what extent the organisation and key stakeholders have the means, the willingness and the ability to implement the proposed change in the way it is intended. The information gathered in the change readiness assessment serves as the foundation for developing communications, training, and other change management strategies and plans that will help prepare the organisation and stakeholders for the change.

The means

When we look at whether people have the means to implement a change successfully, we typically consider the following:

  • IT systems and tools
  • Organisational culture
  • Organisational structure, roles and responsibilities
  • Supporting processes and procedures

All of these aspects of the environment in which the change is being implemented have the potential to enable or impede change efforts.

The willingness

When assessing people’s willingness to change, we’re looking at how they perceive the proposed change, and also at their level of confidence in the organisation’s ability to successfully implement the change. We consider things like:

  • Do people see a problem with the way things are currently?
  • Are they on board with the proposed vision?
  • Do they trust the change leaders?
  • Are they willing to actively support the change?

Not everyone has to have the same level of support and commitment to the change, but we do need to know who the critical players are, how willing they currently are to change, and how much work it’s going to be to bring them on board if they’re not.

The ability

Finally, it isn’t enough to be willing to change, and to be in an environment that supports the change, people also have to have the knowledge, skills and abilities to implement the change. Will people be expected to think, work, or interact with each other differently? Will they be using new equipment or solving different kinds of problems? These are the key questions that are raised in assessing ability to change.

For large-scale, long-term projects, you will likely not have all the information you need at the beginning to do a detailed change readiness assessment; for example, you may not know right away exactly what jobs will be affected, or how. Your change management plan should include further assessments of change readiness as the project progresses, so that you can continue to develop and fine-tune your strategies and plans.

How ready is your organization?