Insight in Changeability as a Success Factor for Projects: Assessing the Change Capacity of an Organization

Insight in Changeability as a Success Factor for Projects: Assessing the Change Capacity of an Organization

Koos de Heer (Van Aetsveld, The Netherlands), Henk Lok (TenICT, The Netherlands) and Tim Schouten (Finext, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3197-5.ch011
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Being able to adapt to changes quickly is an important asset in today's world. More and more organizations are becoming aware of a need to improve their capacity for change. A high project management maturity does only part of the job. The success of a change also depends on the attitude of the employees and managers towards change (change-readiness). When looking for a comprehensive framework to assess and improve an organization's change capacity, the authors failed to find an existing model that was complete in its scope. There was either a focus on project management maturity or on the emotional change-readiness, but never on both. This chapter describes the development and test of a comprehensive framework that assesses all relevant aspects of the ability of an organization to go through changes successfully. The instrument also yields indicators for interventions that can improve this ability.
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A project can only have a positive business case when the deliverables are accepted in the organization and put to effective use. This often requires employees to change the way they work. Therefore, more and more organizations are discovering the importance of improving their capacity for change. There is a general notion that changing the way an organization works is not easy and that being able to adapt to changes quickly is an important asset in today's world.

When looking for a comprehensive framework to assess and improve an organization's change capacity, we found several models that cover part of the relevant factors, but we failed to find a model that was complete in its scope. The models we found can be clustered into two categories:

  • 1.

    Instruments that measure the emotional change-readiness of the population in an organization

  • 2.

    Instruments that measure the project management maturity of an organization (some also including programs and portfolios).

We are convinced that the only way to get a complete picture of the total change capability of an organization is by combining these two categories. When attempting to find a workable combination of two of the existing frameworks, one from the first category and one from the second, there was always either an overlap between the two or a gap. We also wanted to test our hypothesis that factors from both categories could influence each other: e.g. the assumption that bad project management could have a negative effect on the acceptance of the project's results in the organization. Therefore, we needed to test the new combination as one integrated tool in real life situations. This chapter describes the development of a new instrument, based on earlier research by the university of Gent (Bouckenooghe, Devos, & Van den Broeck, 2009) and project management organizations Axelos (, 2017), PMI (, 2013) and IPMA. The resulting instrument has been tested in three real life pilot situations, which has yielded valuable feedback. With this feedback we have created a second, improved version of the instrument. This chapter gives the reader an overview of the instrument, its development and its possible applications.



Projects and Organizational Change

The result of a project very often implies changes to the way people work. Silvius and Schipper et al define a project as a temporary organization that realizes change in organizations (Silvius, 2012; Schipper et al, 2012). Turner (2014) states that the work of a project is “to bring about beneficial change.” A new IT system or a new product line requires new procedures, a new team, or sometimes even one’s job is at stake. People need to adjust to a different way of working and in the beginning they might have to cope with bugs and workarounds as the new system is being fine-tuned. Projects therefore need more than just a blueprint project management method. In order for the business goals to be realized, the project deliverables must be accepted and used in the organization. The discipline that studies this aspect of project success is called Management of Change or Change Management. There is some confusion with the concept of Change Management inside projects, where the scope or the requirements are changed during the course of the project in the form of a change request. We will therefore refer to the management of the changes brought about by the project in the organization as Organizational Change Management (OCM).

Hornstein (2015) shows clearly how the project management discipline has overlooked this aspect for many years and urgently needs to integrate aspects of OCM into both training and best practices in project management. King and Peterson (2007) interviewed 40 leaders in the healthcare and public sectors about their experience with complex projects. 97% reported that OCM was critical to the success of the change. Only 20% reported that project management was of critical importance. Kolodny (2004) describes the need for a synthesis of Project Management and OCM. While one would think that practitioners of Project Management and practitioners of OCM would recognize each other’s disciplines as complementary and work together to achieve success for their clients, there is more often than not a degree of rivalry between the two disciplines (Crawford and Hassner-Nahmias, 2010).

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