Creating the Business Case for Change

Creating the Business Case for Change
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The Business Case for Change

When leaders want to mobilize an organization and its people to change, they need to create a wake-up call, put everyone on alert, and create a compelling story about why the changes are being set in motion. The first step of this frequently neglected phase of change includes aligning top leadership around the business case for change.

At the highest level, that entails answering one fundamental question that the change management consulting project should answer:

“Why is the desired change considered to be important enough to allocate resources now compared to everything else that we could be focusing on?”

Aligning Top Leadership Around a Business Case for Change
Our organizational alignment research found that aligning leaders around the business case for change accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performance.  When it comes to organizational change, leadership alignment starts with creating urgency for change, a compelling vision for change, and relevant reasons to change that are supported by clear and meaningful:

  • Goals
    What are the 2-3 main goals of the desired change?  How do they fit into overall company priorities?
  • Roles and Responsibilities
    Who is responsible for what?
  • Success Metrics
    What 2-3 metrics should be used to measure success and failure?  What leading and lagging indicators should we monitor?
  • Scope and Assumptions
    What are our key going-in strategy, culture, talent, and market assumptions?  What specifically is IN and OUT of scope?
  • Stakeholders
    Who specifically has influence over and cares most about the success or failure of the change initiative?
  • Barriers to Change
    What are the 3 greatest barriers to success that the desired change faces?
  • Resources Required
    What resources do we need to be successful?

Top Business Case for Change Warning Signs — the 3 R’s to Pay Attention To
Change is hard.  Successful change takes unwavering and visible leadership commitment, alignment, dedication, and transparency.  A lack of a compelling business case for change comes in many forms.  Our change management simulation data found that your change initiative could be in trouble if those most affected by change sense:

  1. Not Enough Relevance
    Too many other competing priorities that are impacting the initiative’s ability to be successful
  2. Misaligned Rituals
    Current culture change or organizational obstacles that must be addressed for the desired changes to take hold (e.g., values, beliefs, behaviors, processes, practices, structures, hierarchies, decision processes)
  3. Not Enough Resources
    Not enough resources (e.g., people, capabilities, money, systems, technologies, supplies, physical space) to be successful

The Bottom Line
In hindsight, too many failed change initiatives are plagued by a business rationale that was too vague, too tactical, too debatable, or that was created in a vacuum.  Is your reason for change missing some key components?  Invest the time and energy to ensure that your business case for change makes sense, is created with key stakeholders, and has the full support and commitment from leadership.

To learn more about how to succeed at organizational change, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change that Leaders Must Pay Attention To

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