When I was an industrial engineer early in my career, one of my core responsibilities was measuring things. It’s no coincidence that my transition to change practitioner included balanced scorecards to measure strategy execution. Even now, my work helping people influence change still includes identifying measures to track progress and increase accountability.
When you start to consider how to measure change, it’s easy to get stuck. Some get analysis paralysis trying to measure everything. Others quickly decide to measure the obvious (usually a process measure or something they can survey people about) and then ignore some of the things they need to measure to ensure progress. How can you measure enough without measuring too much? The following are the four facets of change you should measure to track the progress of your change initiative.
1. End goal
The first step to measuring change is to identify the desired end result of the change. After all, the purpose of change is to make some kind of improvement. (If it’s not, then you’re just changing for the sake of change.) For most organizations, the end goal of change will be either financial or customer/mission-driven. Examples include: revenue, profit, return on investment (ROI), cost savings, or product/service quality. You can think of this as the true purpose of the change initiative.
2. The change
The next facet to measure is the elements that will change to achieve the end goal. The desired end result is not going to happen by itself. What needs to change to achieve the end goal? What are the cause-and-effect assumptions that will cause the end goal to happen? When you’re clear about how the end goal will be brought about, you can then measure those changes. The change measures will typically fall into the following groups:
Process: What processes need to change or improve, and how? Examples: cycle time, error/success rate
Organization: How will the organization have to change? Examples: levels of management, alignment, who makes decisions
Behavior: What new or modified behaviors or activities will lead to the end goal? Examples: number of ideas, system usage
Mindset: What changes in mindset need to happen? Examples: morale, trust, beliefs, attitudes
The measures you choose will be specific to the change you’re implementing. Measure at least those changes that are essential to achieving the end goal.
In addition to measuring what’s changing, you can measure how well the initiative is creating an environment in which people are ready to change. Adoption rate is one such measure – how many people are using or doing the new thing? Other adoption-related measures are: How many people see the need for change and want it to happen? How many know what they need to do? What is their level of proficiency? What percentage of department managers has taken ownership of the change? Adoption measures the effectiveness of the change initiative in progress.
4. Project implementation
From a project perspective, you can also measure your progress on change management activities. Examples are: What is our training attendance? How many communications touch points do we have per person? How many teams have been facilitated? What percentage of departments has customized measures for the change? While the rest of the measures focus on the organization and its implementation of change, these measures show your own accountability for implementing the project.
Change measures fall into four general categories: the end goal, the change itself, adoption, and implementation. These categories have a cause-and-effect logic of their own. If you’re implementing well, you’ll start seeing adoption. As people adopt the change, you’ll start seeing changes in process, organization, behavior and mindset. And these changes in turn will lead to achieving the end goal. Measuring all four facets of change will not only help you track progress, but identify sooner when the change is off course.