We have found that there are ten factors that determine the success or failure of any organizational change.  In this series, we will examine each of these factors.  The third is whether you have developed specific change criteria.

It is one thing to want change.  It is another to be sufficiently clear about the specifics of the change to help the entire organization understand what is required.  Organizations that are most effective at driving change recognize the importance of creating specific change criteria.

Building upon the case for change, specific change criteria help build awareness within the organization of the NEED for change – not to simply inform the organization that a change is happening.  Good change criteria help create an understanding of what will be different in the future.  They clearly outline what behaviors are expected and how success will be judged.  In many cases, the change criteria will also outline new organizational values and revised decision-making processes.  Really good change criteria help you screen out what not to do or stop doing as well as screen in the clear things that must happen.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are organizations that lack specific change criteria.  For these organizations, the rules and change requirements constantly shift.  Change expectations are often unclear, and there is little follow-through or documentation of adherence.  Without clear change criteria, you can rationalize anything which will, in the end, destroy even the best strategic concepts.  These organizations fall victim to the old proverb, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Where is your organization on this spectrum?  If you don’t feel that you have developed sufficiently specific change criteria, address the following questions:

  • Review your mission, vision and values. Are they consistent with the change you desire – or do they need to be revised?
  • Do you have alignment between who you serve, what you solve, and how you will operate – or do any of these need to be revised?
  • Can you articulate how behaviors need to change? Do you have a process to evaluate adoption of these behaviors?
  • Does your goal setting align with the change and how you measure individual and organizational performance?
  • Do you understand how your decision-making process needs to evolve to support the change you desire?

See all of the 10 Reasons Change Succeeds or Fails posts here.