Building organisational change capability

Written by Fiona Magee, Managing Consultant, CITI

In today’s world of digital transformation and disruption, organisations are in a constant state of change. Those that respond well will flourish, but building this capability effectively requires much more than a generic understanding.

Tech giants Google, Apple and Microsoft are acutely aware of the need for constant reinvention and it has served them well. What makes them stand out in this context is their ability to adapt swiftly and make strategic changes in line with what’s happening in the external environment.

Organisations can no longer afford to sit back when things are going well, but constantly need to look for new ways of doing things to stay ahead of the game. But they also need to ensure that the company is set up to handle the level and type of change required at any given point in time.

Build a picture

One of the common mistakes companies make is to set out to build change capability without first taking the time to assess what is needed. This random approach stands little chance of making a positive impact because it is not fully integrated into business operations.

The first thing to think about is what your current change landscape looks like. And this starts with a clear understanding of the overall strategy, which allows you to then identify the type and amount of change required to deliver it.

Having a clear picture of the change you intend to deliver is fundamental to its long term success – whether in terms of the systems and tools required, the people to action it or a central PMO to coordinate and manage the process.

Build capability

The next step is to describe what capability you need to have in place to deliver that level of change. It is important to consider this in the context of both the organization and individual people.

Alongside the 70:20:10 development model, accredited training is an important part of building people capability. But rather than rush into signing up for something generic, it is important to look carefully at what is needed from project managers and change managers. This will put you in a much better position to identify the most relevant courses for your business needs.

Create the right environment

It is then vital to provide the right level of support within your organization to ensure that what has been learned can be applied effectively.

As a PRINCE2® trainer for over 15 years, I personally find it incredibly frustrating that delegates can see the benefits of the course content but don’t believe they will be given the resources to fully support those changes back at work.

So having leaders who genuinely understand change and a culture that supports it will make a huge difference – not only in terms of valuable outcomes from the course, but also to successfully enabling change.

Involve everyone

Every employee has a role to play. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that change as a competency only concerns project managers. Yes, they need to facilitate the change transition, but this means the people around them also need to have a corresponding understanding of what they are trying to achieve and be open to that change.

And it goes both ways: senior managers also need to champion change – something which is very different from day-to-day leading and managing operations. It is essential that this drive to deliver change comes from the top.

By taking the time to address change capability in this way, organisations can move towards a path of success rather than failure.

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