Author: David Haynes

We all believe that we are good at change. We are 'champions of change.' But is that really true?

Why are people, in general, so resistant to change?

What does it take to implement change (personally or professionally)?

What is the one key attribute?


There are multiple phases people go through during change:

These phases are inevitable, it is only our external response we have control over.


In every successful change implementation it takes three key elements. Without these keys, the change is doomed at least to a bumpy road, and probably to either under-achievement or failure.

  1. Upper management buy-in. This cannot be underestimated. Without executive buy-in, the change is destined for stalling. Mid-level management will test the business resolve of upper management and can smell weakness in a heartbeat. Momentum is lost, and delay is what happens.
  2. Have a plan. Seems obvious, but much of change happens without a fully resolved and documented plan. Firms implementing change often say 'we are really smart and we will figure it out.' This is misguided and often leads to delay of change. Hire a qualified consultant with resources to bring to the table, and give implementation consultant the input needed for a plan that is both reasoned and documented.
    • What problem are we trying to solve?
    • What are we willing to do to assist?
    • What is our corporate culture and what works best for our type of company (not based upon budget, but upon other successful change)?
  3. Define Conditions of Success. See my blog, When am I Done? Why Is My Customer Unhappy?  for more. Success requires a goal line. A mutually agreed upon goal line. Then the change needs to be constantly measured against the goal line. This is different than metrics. Here is an example:   

A project requires a new software to be implemented. The existing software opens in 1 second. The new software opens in 2 seconds. The metric says 100% decrease in performance (2 seconds vs. 1 second). The Condition of Success is the user should not notice the change from using existing software to new software. 

The problem is that metrics (numbers) can be manipulated to either forecast failure or promote success. Metrics are not the only predictors of change success. A defined and agreed upon Condition of Success will be a better indicator of a successful implementation than metrics.


What is the one crucial part? Commitment. Commitment by all the parties involved, including the customer and the consultant. Commitment is more than "I will pay you if you provide this for me." Commitment is the dedication of management buy-in, consultant time and effort, customer involvement and response, and dedication to conditions of success.

Unless Greek mythology Sisyphus is your hero, look at your next change implementation from a different perspective.

This post was originally published on David’s blog Connecting the [Data]...

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       David Haynes
David Haynes, NCARB, PMP, LEED AP
Ideate Director of Consulting

David is a Registered Architect, Project Management Certified Professional, who previously had his own architectural practice and was President of a commercial design–build construction company for 15 years. A graduate of University of Arizona, he has worked as an Architect, contractor, developer and as a national construction manager for a national retailer. David currently provides business process analysis, data integration, and change management solutions for AEC clients across the United States involved in the design and construction industry. Follow David on Twitter.