Change Management

Why Equal Opportunities Are Never Enough: Putting Humanity at the Center

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The International Women’s Day theme of #EmbraceEquity couldn’t be more well-timed. As women, we have been committed to, and contributed to, progress for fair and equal treatment in the workplace for decades, but we are now asking for more. More in terms of identification and acknowledgement of accessible opportunities for all demographics: ethnicity, race, gender, disabilities and more. Equality, while important, is no longer enough.

I love that the 2023 [IWD] campaign puts humanity at its center, emphasizing the importance of seeing and acting in a way that enables the unique and wonderful qualities of our employees to be called out into the light and leveraged for the gifts that they are.

It starts with the simple fact that we often use the words equality and equity interchangeably, not pausing to acknowledge their distinction. Understanding is at the crux of this topic, and, ironically, when we fail to pause and understand the very difference between these two words, it prevents us from moving beyond where we are today.

Equality vs Equity

Equality simply means everyone is treated the same exact way, regardless of need or any other individual difference. Equity, on the other hand, means everyone is provided with what they need to succeed. At a foundational level, equality and equity are different, but they work together to ensure a level playing field in the workplace.

Equality, while a noble concept, falls short on its own as it presumes that the same opportunity can be accessed by all individuals. By treating everyone the same, employee-specific needs aren’t considered and this impacts the ability for employees to take advantage of opportunities presented in the workplace. Ultimately, equality on its own counterbalances the good work taken to eliminate biases and create inclusivity and instead propagates unconscious bias and the inability for everyone to feel included and create an inclusive culture.

Equity’s focus, on the other hand, is the distribution of resources based upon individual needs. If we truly desire to advocate for, and apply, equity in our workplaces, we, as leaders, must recognize that not all of our employees start out from the same baseline. The reach to access and activate opportunities doesn’t typically look the same for everyone.

Enabling Employees

When we #EmbraceEquity, we, as leaders, see our employees as individuals, asking and considering the who, what, when, where, and why of our employees so we can deliberately create a ”how” that responds to their unique circumstances. This is when we begin to enable our employees’ personal contribution and success in our workplaces.

This is not easy, because, as leaders, it demands that we take time to be present, to listen, and to empathize. It makes it much more complicated, as there are barriers: time, skills, and even our personal comfortability and vulnerability with topics that might be foreign or sometimes that even hit too close to home.

Call to Action

I love that the 2023 campaign puts humanity at its center, emphasizing the importance of seeing and acting in a way that enables the unique and wonderful qualities of our employees to be called out into the light and leveraged for the gifts that they are. The very essence of the campaign name #EmbraceEquity highlights the human need to be brought into the fold, to be seen, to belong. It calls leaders to embrace the challenge of leading from our own humanity and a place of vulnerability to create equitable companies and workplace cultures that can help the world thrive. This is what a focus on equity does.

If we, as leaders, commit to stepping into this space, at our very worst, we will create conditions that result in equitable environments where all can participate and prosper, but at our very best, we will help people achieve their full potential and we can rise together above the ceiling of equality to a place where opportunity knows no limits.

On IWD 2023, how will you #EmbraceEquity?


What is a Future-Ready Workforce?

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As we begin 2023, you may be asking yourself “What does it mean to be a future-focused workforce?”

First, we should define a future-focused workforce: Future-focused means how adaptable is the organization and its employees; what are their internal capabilities to scale and find new ways to innovate and stay current; and what is their ability to grow the organization and their people?

As we kick off the new year, we know there will continue to be constant change, attracting and retaining employees will remain a factor, and the ability to innovate and shift will remain the same. How do you plan to address this within your organization?

So how do organizations continue to build a future-focused workforce? According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report: The Transformation of L&D [1], the top four areas of focus for L&D programs in 2022 were:

  1. Leadership and management training
  2. Upskilling and reskilling employees
  3. Digital upskilling/digital transformation
  4. Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Focusing in these areas will help to build the key skills for organizations to be future-focused.

Leadership Development and Essential Skills

Since the pandemic, whether you call it soft skills, power skills, or essential skills, the importance of leadership development and essential skills has shifted dramatically. The need to work in a remote or hybrid environment, ability to maintain and enhance productivity, build organizations that are diverse, equitable and inclusive, and to innovate and stay relevant is a challenge. Employees who are agile and have a growth mindset can make effective decisions, work collaboratively with diverse and, often, virtual team members, will be successful in today’s continually shifting business environment. The ability to think critically, problem solve, or influence decisions can impact an organization’s success from the bottom of the organization all the way up to the top.

Organizations should look at providing learning opportunities to everyone in the organization, no matter what the role. Everyone is a leader and can leverage leadership skills. Helping employees gain, or have access to developing, these skills is essential to the success and growth of the organization. Communication and interpersonal skills help individuals work well with others while time management and problem solving can make employees more valuable and productive.

Here are some few areas to consider:

  • Communications – Good communication encompasses many facets such as listening, conciseness, body language, open mindedness, and understanding the correct medium to use. Good communications, whether verbal or written, provide clarity and direction, can prevent, or resolve, problems, build better relationships, or increase engagement, build trust, and promote productivity.
  • Time Management: The ability to meet deadlines and excel, particularly in a remote environment, is based on good time management. Having good time management skills will help to reduce stress, create better work life balance, increase productivity, and provide greater focus.
  • Critical Thinking – There are several benefits to critical thinking. It reinforces problem solving skills by helping individuals and teams more effectively diagnose problems, help resolve conflict, encourage curiosity, and foster creativity.
  • Problem Solving – This applies to any position or industry. No matter what the business is, problems consistently arise and need to be addressed. Some competencies of problem solving are emotional intelligence, creativity, lateral thinking, and resilience.
  • Interpersonal Skills – We interact with individuals and teams constantly including peers, managers, cross-functional team members, etc. Having effective Interpersonal skills will foster valuable communication, build trust, create and maintain meaningful relationships, demonstrate social awareness, and highlight leadership qualities.
  • Growth Mindset – A growth mindset is about how a person will adapt and evolve when facing challenges, is learning something new, or has a setback. This is beneficial for both an employer and employee as it helps you and the organization become more adaptable and open to learn and grow, become resilient and continue to move forward, and foster a positive work environment.

Upskilling and Reskilling Employees

Future skilling employees can be tricky due to continual and rapid changes in the business environment. It’s particularly hard in the tech sector and with general technology since technology changes so quickly. Each organization will need to understand those functional or technical skills that will be required for their specific industry. To keep up, companies need to continually assess and define key skills for one year, three years, five years in the future. This should not be a one-and-done assessment. It should be reviewed to adjust to the changing business environment. Once the assessment has been completed, organizations need to work with L&D to develop learning journeys and adopt good learning systems.

Organizations can work with their HR Department, Talent Department, or they can hire a consulting firm to conduct a skills gap analysis. This will help with strategic workforce planning, foster employee engagement, and assist with recruitment and retaining the right talent.

Steps to take in a skills gap analysis include: Assess and prioritize the common skills needed for all employees and the top specialized skills needed for each role. Map out what learning solution is needed for each of those skills, should it be part of a career path, and determine where and how the content will be delivered. And then create multiple approaches to learning.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Learning programs and tools should be looked across the entire organization and inclusive to reach all employees instead of following traditional talent identification processes which may exclude or miss hidden talent and skills. This approach builds an inclusive environment, increases employee engagement and retention, and builds a sense of belonging.

Internal mobility

Company culture is also key to engaging and retaining employees. According to LinkedIn data [2] opportunities for learning and growth is the #1 driver of a great culture. A way for employees to grow is the opportunity to apply their skills and talent beyond just their job descriptions. Forward-thinking organizations want and encourage their employees’ interests. Organizations should embrace these desires and allow for internal mobility and fluidity among their employees. This could mean moving into different areas/roles within the company or, perhaps, just enhancing skills to stay relevant within their current role. Opportunities should be made available to participate in stretch assignments or strategic initiatives or to take on responsibilities that are not defined within their current role. By offering advancement and career growth, this not only saves time and money in recruitment efforts, happy and engaged employees are more likely to stay and recommend working at their organization.

Next Steps

As we kick off the new year, we know there will still be constant change, attracting and retaining employees will remain a factor, and the ability to innovate and shift will remain the same. How do you plan to address this within your organization? Connect with CARA to learn how we can help you build a future-ready workforce. In the meantime, check out this two-part article on how CARA leveraged learning personas to build out an emerging leader program for a locally based client build their future-ready workforce.


[1] report/LinkedIn-Learning_Workplace-Learning-Report-2022-EN.pdf

[2] report/LinkedIn-Learning_Workplace-Learning-Report-2022-EN.pdf





New Year, New Change Management Approach

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We continue to live in a rapidly changing and unpredictable work environment. In many situations, a state of flux has edged out perceived certainty, stability and/or familiarity in the workplace. As we exit the pandemic, the worker/employer relationship continues to evolve through this disruption.

As you begin the new year, it is a great time to reevaluate your change approach to quickly respond to market dynamics.”


From an organizational change perspective, how can we quickly respond in our change initiatives to respond to these dynamics? What strategies can we use to track short and long-term wins from a change perspective?


As you implement your plans for the new year, here are four core strategies that you can incorporate to respond and track your change initiatives:

  1. Define the short and long-term requirements for change. Change continues to impact industries at all levels, including through initiatives such as the adoption of new technologies, long-term sustainability efforts, realignments of organizational structure, and/or the modernization of different functions. The full impacts of these changes may be realized over longer timeframes. As change professionals, we can continue to refine and address business requirements for both the short and long-term impacts. While maintaining a systemic, long-term view, we can also ask, “What does “done” look like for our people in this particular stage of the initiative?”
  2. Ask transformational questions. In a rapidly evolving environment, it is also important to routinely ask clarifying questions. We need to move beyond the basic “Who” and “Why” to expand to the “What” and the “How” questions. Through these types of questions, we can identify the specific needs and adapt our response accordingly.
  3. Clarifying roles. One issue that can significantly impact the speed of change is the clarity of roles. If our teams are not clear on their individual roles, they will likely spend more time on wasted or duplicate efforts which will negatively impact results. As a result, it is critical that we’re continually aligning on our roles. One method that you can use within your team to quickly achieve this goal is through a role clarification exercise.
  4. Provide coaching support along the way. After you have developed a solid infrastructure for your change initiatives, continue to engage leadership and core stakeholders throughout the change. You can support your team through ongoing coaching and ensuring clear actions and accountabilities.

As you begin the new year, it is a great time to reevaluate your change approach to quickly respond to market dynamics. Ensure that you have refined the requirements for your change initiatives with both a long and short-term view. As you work with your leaders and core stakeholders, ask transformational questions to clarify the specific needs and define your approach. If not clearly defined, take the time to define roles. And, as you move further into deployment, make sure that you’re providing the best coaching support for your team.

And, as always, please feel free to reach out to us at for any additional assistance that you might need in your change efforts. We’d love to help tailor your OCM program to your specific business changes and accelerate your business success.

Sustainable Organizational Change Management

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We recently published a blog on the value organizational change management (OCM) delivers. It resulted in the following questions:

  • How do you know OCM delivers value? Can its value be measured?
  • Assuming “you get what you measure”, can we institutionalize the measures to ensure sustainable behavior and sustainable value?

In our prior post, we tackled the first question. If you have not read this blog, I encourage you to read it as it sets the foundation for institutionalizing the measures that drive sustainable behavior and value. The values commonly associated with OCM were introduced. They are:

  • Accelerating the speed of adoption and,
  • Creating sustainability of the behaviors and benefits in the future state.

In addition, we presented:

  • Four types of measures commonly used to assess OCM’s value
  • Specifics regarding what is measured by each type
  • Measurement metrics
  • Strengths and weaknesses of each type of measure

Today we share how we can institutionalize these measures so they become part of an organization’s fabric, the way an organization does business, shapes how people behave, and how their use creates sustainability.

At its most basic level, the institutionalization of these measures results from the process used to create them. The process requires:

  • Early and active involvement of multiple audiences that will use and supply the measures (e.g. operations, finance, sales, HR, PMO, sponsors, leadership etc.). The impact assessment can be a starting point and valuable tool to identify and track these audiences and their role in the measures development process.
  • A base level understanding of OCM and the mechanics of how it drives behavior.
  • An understanding of the current measures used to operate the business.
  • An understanding of the sustainable behaviors and points of resistance that are critical in producing the future state benefits.

The process includes these steps:

  • Introduce OCM’s value and the measures to ensure that value
  • Identify and involve the users and suppliers in formal workshops and kick off activities
  • Include these measures as part of the formal go, no-go processes
  • Resolve conflicts with measures and accountabilities in use today
  • Integrate and align with Human Resources
  • Integrate and align with audit processes and checklists
  • Ensure project leadership understands the importance these measures and the active role they play in their creation
  • Obtain Leadership’s sign off
  • Include formal training for all key stakeholders on the connection between behaviors, sustainability, and their role in driving these behaviors

While this process may appear to require considerable upfront effort, our experience tells us that if repeated early on with the right players the measures will be adopted censure and result in the long-term behavior and sustainability that produces the future state benefits.

We would love to answer any questions you have, discuss how you might leverage our experience to accelerate the process, and show you how we can help you increase the sustainable value of OCM in your organization. Contact us at to learn more.

Can OCM Add Measurable Value?

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In an earlier blog, we introduced the concept of OCM’s value.

In support of that value, this blog poses the questions “How do you know?”, “Can you measure it?”, and can you institutionalize these measures to support the sustainable benefits of the future state?”

As a reminder, here are the areas of value normally associated with OCM:

The first involves:

  • The speed with which an organization adapts to changes and achieves the productivity promised by the future state. An example is the learning curve and how fast it can be climbed.

The second involves the sustainability of the benefits associated with the change:

  • These benefits are the result of long-term changes to behavior. Being agile comes to mind here and the ability of employees to make decisions on less than perfect information.

I think the following graphic does a good job of presenting these two values.

So, there you have a starting point. Now let’s dig a little deeper and answer the question of what do we measure and how do we measure it.

From there, we will answer the question of sustainability and address who is involved in determining what we measure, who is involved in the measurement process, how the measures are used, and how are they institutionalized?

What are the traditional measures of OCM? We believe there are four broad areas.

#1 Measurement: Effectiveness of OCM activities

  • What does it measure? These measures are perhaps the most straight forward in measuring the effectiveness of OCM. They answer questions about the effectiveness of change communications, training, risk management, leadership participation, stakeholder strength, and project health (on time on budget)
  • How are they measured? Through participant surveys, monitoring training attendance, input from project management (on time, on budget), and their use in go no go activities.
  • Strength? Specific to OCM and its time-tested success components.
  • Weakness? Assumes that OCM activity produces results.

#2 Measurement: Achievement of Future State Productivity Gains

  • What does it measure? The number of times a new activity or process is performed correctly and within quality parameters…e.g. # of workarounds being performed.
  • How are they measured? Process and quality metrics, surveys, checklists, business case metrics.
  • Strength? OCM plays a significant role in driving these results.
  • Weakness? OCM is not the only variable in driving these results.

#3 Measurement: Sustainability of Future State Performance Behaviors

  • What does it measure? New behaviors that drive performance, sustainability of these new behaviors, leadership’s understanding of the new behaviors, and how leadership spots and manages the new behaviors.
  • How are they measured? Leadership’s input, performance evaluations, compliance audits.
  • Strength? Behaviors have a direct link to performance and sustainability of the future state.
  • Weakness? While behaviors are a primary source of sustainable performance other variables are involved in sustainability

#4 Leadership Input: Leadership’s Judgment of their Ability to Manage Resistance

  • What does it measure? Leadership’s perception of OCM to further their leadership skills.
  • How are they measured? Interviews with leadership.
  • Strength? Input directly from leadership. Demonstrates their acceptance of OCM activities. Builds foundation for making measure permanent.
  • Weakness? Opinions and perceptions rather than fact.

So, how do we ensure these measures are adopted going forward? How do we institutionalize them to ensure they drive long-term value and build OCM muscle for the organization?

In our next blog, we will answer these questions and more to ensure the effectiveness of OCM.

We hope that this blog post has given you a solid introduction to the measures of OCM. While there is more to follow in our next blog, we would love to hear from you to discuss your thoughts and questions on what to measure.


Change is Everywhere: A Tool for Untangling and Simplifying Change

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Take a moment and count all the small (and large) changes that have occurred in your lifetime, in the last day, even the last hour. Have you lost count? Personally, in the last couple of months, I have become a wife, moved to a new ERP platform at work, got a new email address (crazy how big this can impact someone and the people around them!), downloaded a few new phone apps that changed my home screen, as well as countless other new circumstances that keep life interesting.

“The “PEOPLE” tool can be a go-to way to explain change management or introduce change concepts into the many areas where you encounter change in your daily life.”


As you can visualize with the changes I briefly mentioned, not all change is created equal and how we handle that change varies. That holds true in business as well – not all change is the same and, therefore, can be governed differently based on the circumstances. Change can scale on several different factors – below are a few examples:

Change Management Strategy or Basic Change Concepts?

Since not every change is the same, not every change requires the same level of intervention to gain adoption or behavior change. So, how do you know when you need to develop a full change management strategy and plan versus utilizing basic change concepts and tools? When answering this, here are a few helpful questions to consider:

  • How complex are the changes that people will need to understand?
  • How large is the change effort? Are there multiple goals that require changes happening at once?
  • How many other initiatives or changes are occurring simultaneously?
  • Will the change(s) and behavior be more a push or a pull to gain buy-in? Will this likely be viewed as a positive or negative experience?
  • How many individuals will be impacted by the change?
  • How aligned are leaders to the change that is taking place?

Based on your responses, if you find your change is large, complex, will encounter a lot of resistance or other factors that may warrant a true change plan, consider involving a professional change practitioner.

If the change doesn’t require a full change management strategy and plan, is there a simplified way to explain and leverage change management principles for these smaller, everyday changes? How can change practitioners help others easily adopt a change management mindset?

Introducing the PEOPLE Tool

CARA’s “PEOPLE” tool is intended just for that purpose – a tool to untangle the complicated change management methodologies and tools. If you consider each element of the “PEOPLE” framework, you can better manage change (even as a non-change practitioner).

  • P – Personnel: Who is impacted by the change both directly and indirectly?
  • E – Engagement and Communication: Who needs to be told “what” and when? How?
  • O – Organization Wide Impact: In what ways will things change for people? What are the behaviors and ways of working that need to adjust to ensure success?
  • P – Pulse Checks: How are we evaluating readiness and attitudes towards the change?
  • L- Leadership: Are leaders aligned to the change that is occurring and what it means for their employees?
  • E – Enablement into the Future: How are we upskilling and providing reinforcements to sustain the change(s)?

Using the “PEOPLE” Tool

In recent discussions I have had with clients, this tool has become incredibly useful in explaining the “how” behind change management without using jargon such as “stakeholder analysis” or “change impact assessments”. For example, organizations can use the tool to upskill their non-change employees as a first step in creating a culture of change and transformation.

The “PEOPLE” tool is not intended to be used as a replacement for seasoned change practitioners. Instead, it is a tool for those who want to incorporate change management principles into their everyday knowledge and routines and discuss change management in simplified terms.

Three practical uses include:

  • Upskilling non-change practitioners on change management techniques and ways of thinking
  • Incorporating an easy tool for leaders and managers in an organization to bring change in everyday thinking
  • “Selling Change” to the non-believer

Whether you are new to change management principles or have been using these concepts for years, it is clear that change is constant, and people need to be agile. With that, not all changes are equal and, therefore, do not need to be managed the same. The “PEOPLE” tool can be a go-to way to explain change management or introduce change concepts into the many areas where you encounter change in your daily life.

How do you address varying scales of change? How would you use this tool?

If you want to learn more about this tool, how to educate your organization in change principles, or how to assess where your change priorities scale, contact The CARA Group for more information at


Building Long Term Change Muscle in Your Organization Part 2, a Practical Guide

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In Part 1 of this blog topic, we introduced the strategic need for the development of Long Term OCM muscle in your organization. We told you that in Part 2 we would focus on the process to further define the specific skills your organization needs and introduce several approaches on how your organization can acquire and mature these skills.

There are three steps in this process:

Step 1 in this process of defining the specific skills needed is to determine which OCM activities are the most important for ensuring continuous and sustainable change. See the list (not exhaustive), and the grid below to facilitate a structured discussion among leadership. Note: While it won’t magically produce the answer, this grid should help to facilitate this structured discussion.

Step 2 identifies which activities might be best handled by external resources. Note: You might want to look back to Part 1 of the blog and revisit the more common roles and characteristics that best fit with external and internal resources.


STEPS 1 and 2

Click to expand image

Step 3. This last step provides you with several of the more common implementation methods and the variables that differentiate them. What models best develop and mature these OCM skills for your organization?

Model Description and impact to managing continuous change.
Participative: inc. job shadowing of OCM lead. Delivers speed of solution and is used early on in developing OCM maturity. Typically leverages an external resource to train an internal (future OCM leader) resource as part of their service offering
Stand-alone organization: Reporting to HR Internal OCM organization that is a part of the HR organization. Tying it to HR might increase the sophistication of the organization but not always its long-term effectiveness. Budget constraints from the business might limit its long-term continuous solutions. Requires management / business buy in.
Standalone organization: Reporting to business leadership Internal OCM organization that is a part of the business organization. Tying it to the business might create more effective / faster solutions but not necessarily the quality of sustainability required for continuous change. Might be limited by budget constraints. Will require OCM SME…possibly in a participative role.
Integrated: Skill development and formal Training of all managers and leaders. Slowest speed to solution but provides the greatest OCM maturity for delivering change on a continuous basis. Requires investment in infrastructure, internal sales organization, value appreciation mechanism, continuous QA of method and tools, and partnership with external SMEs.

The strategic need for building OCM muscle has never been greater in ensuring competitive advantage. A competitive advantage that includes the right combination of both internal and external resources. We hope you have found this blog post helpful in jump starting the process of getting the right “fit” for your organization. We’d love to show you how we can help you accelerate the acquisition of your organizations Long Term OCM muscle.

Building Long Term Change Muscle in Your Organization – Part 1

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Why Long Term? In our first blog earlier this year we talked about major business trends. The trends that require significant change and change that is beyond simply the project level. In fact, they required strategic change. Continuous change. A series of projects and programs to stay out in front of the competition.

To achieve that level of change, our last blog addressed leadership’s role in strategic change and how to build their strategic change skills and engagement to form the foundation for this continuous change.

“How do you build…[organizational] change muscle? ….people managers play a critical role….”

Now the question is: how do you build a sustainable change capability in the rest of your organization? We refer to this as building change muscle.

Maybe a better question is: why would we need to build our organization’s muscle?

To best illustrate this, I have an example: a recent PROSCI article[1] talks about the many roles that need to be filled by internal resources.

One of these roles is the “people manager”. In a world of strategic and continuous change, the people managers play a critical role in ensuring change. They have organizational authority, are key communication points, understand the culture, and have built a storehouse of trust with their teams. These internal strengths cannot be outsourced to an external OCM consultant, and the faster managers develop change skills (organizational muscle), the faster change can happen.

The first step is to determine what skills your organization will need to create long term change muscle. Secondly, determine where these skills reside, inside or outside the organization.

Brief note: We believe that internal resources are just as important to change success as external resources. However, they each play distinct roles and bring value to the change process. Getting those right builds sustainable organizational change muscle.


Here are some questions to get you started on determining the best mix to build your organization’s change muscle:

  • What roles and activities are best suited for internal OCM resources?
    • Change agents and change champions
    • SMEs (variety of topics)
    • Sponsors
    • Change leadership
    • Communicating and integration on an organization wide basis
    • Spotting resistance
    • Managing resistance
    • Training support
    • HR support
  • What internal resource characteristics make them best suited for these roles?
    • Organization understanding
    • Organization acceptance and trust
    • Accountability and organizational authority
    • Ability to manage long term sustainability and long-term behaviors
    • Understanding of the current state and in the longer term the Future State vs the Current State
  • What roles and activities are best suited for external resources?
    • OCM project lead
    • Communication and training expertise
    • Coaching
    • Support
    • Education and engagement
    • Feedback
    • Challenge
    • Advisor (SME in OCM)
  • What characteristics make each best suited for their respective role?
    • Objectivity
    • Cutting edge expertise and experience
    • Speed of execution
    • Structure, tools, and best practices
    • Educating of internal resources
    • Structured process and best practices

Now that you have identified what is needed for your organization, what is the next step to bring those skills into your organization? The how!

In our next edition, we will be helping you determine which specific skills your organization needs to build OCM muscle, where these skills can come from (e.g., internal, external sources), and how to acquire them.

We hope you have found this blog post helpful in setting stage to help your organization build the OCM muscle needed for the long term.

If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you.

[1] Source: PROSCI article: CLARC: The Role of People Managers in Change Management

Engaging Leadership to Enable Change: Questions to Ask and Tools to Adopt

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“Leadership engagement is complex, has many moving parts, and involves more than just the current project.”

We talk a lot about how leadership must be engaged for change to occur, but such engagement happens less than we would like or need. Why is that you might ask?


  • it is because leadership’s value in the change process hasn’t been tied to measures of success
  • these measures don’t exist
  • they don’t understand their role and what they are accountable for in managing change.
  • they don’t understand the impact / value of their role on the project
  • they don’t understand the value of the project to the organization
  • they don’t understand the impact of the change on their people
  • they don’t understand OCM
  • they don’t have the time (real or perceived) and they don’t see it as a priority

Wow! That’s a lot of “Maybes”.

How can we reduce this list a bit and target potential fixes to increase leadership’s engagement in the change process?

Answering the following questions can provide a good start.


So now what? While you may now better understand some of the underlying causes of leadership’s lack of engagement and the questions to ask to assess engagement , how do we increase engagement and ensure sustainable change among leadership? Let’s look at some of the more common solutions.

Ensure that any external consultant you hire is fully committed to educating and engaging leaders in every phase of the project.

  • Ensure that key documents are developed to serve multiple audiences and provide both project management and leadership with an early warning system that identifies points of resistance, go/no-go progress, and risks.
  • During the consultant selection process, ask the external consultants specifically how they engage and educate leadership.

Treat leadership as a partner rather than a customer.

  • Ensure the project team involves leadership in the development of the OCM measures of success.
  • Involve leadership in a transparent and active governance process that includes a multi-step go/no-go sign off process.
  • Ensure communication with leadership that includes a discussion of risk.
  • As part of the consultant selection process, ensure that external consultants have a track record of “straight talk” to leadership.
  • Ensure governance meetings are short, have repeatable agendas, and, most importantly, include transparent discussions and recommendations.
  • Define specific and measurable roles and responsibilities for leadership in managing change. Ensure these roles and responsibilities are updated as the project matures.

Understand the timing and ranking of leadership’s competing priorities.

  • Develop a leadership calendar to ensure the team understands the priorities and the availability of each leader.
  • Involve leadership in the process to ensure their initiatives are integrated at the “desk level”.

Resist the urge to provide leadership with mere talking points as the fulfillment of their communication responsibilities.

  • Prepare leadership with context to understand the impacts and timing of the changes to their teams.

I hope that this blog serves as a practical guide in how to ensure the active engagement of leadership throughout the change process.

Leadership engagement is complex, has many moving parts, and involves more than just the current project.

And while we can use tools (like the ones outlined here) to guide us, they are simply tools. They help us combine our experience with an understanding of the specifics of your organization’s changes. They define and focus our efforts. In addition, external consultants have limitations that require them to uniquely partner with internal resources e.g., Corporate Communications, HR, leadership, and internal change resources to name a few.


We would like to talk with you about how we’ve enabled organizations and leadership to create effective and sustainable change. Please call us or send an email to We’d love to hear from you.



Embedding Change into “Business as Usual”

By | Change Management | No Comments

Embedding change increases the likelihood of success and accelerates the timeframe to capture value from organizational transformations. Some recent findings from a McKinsey & Company report[1] highlight the importance of building our change efforts into our “business as usual” processes. While it may seem antithetical to incorporate change into your standing operational structures, companies are more likely to be successful and can realize the value faster – even up to six months sooner than their counterparts – by using these strategies. This article recommends a few methods that you can use to instill change into your operations.

So, why is it important to build organizational change efforts into routine business operations? Ultimately, our goal in large-scale transformations should be to look beyond the quick fix. Focusing on the short-term versus the long-term is an inefficient use of resources and may cause more harm than good.

What does this look like?

Executive briefings, setting business objectives/targets, conducting business reviews on a monthly or quarterly basis, and annual planning efforts are all examples of standing operational business processes in which you can embed your change efforts. Partner with your operational and finance colleagues to find strategies to incorporate your transformation into these processes.

What steps can you take to successfully embed the change?

A few recommended strategies include:

  1. Organizational Change Management should partner closely with operational and business partners. Look for ways to work closely within the existing infrastructure with your operational and business partners, versus implementing the change from a siloed perspective.
  2. Complete an initial assessment to identify areas for improvement and highlight areas to align resources for the change. Beyond processes, it is also important to identify how resources are being allocated – from a talent, capital and technology standpoint – to facilitate the change. An initial assessment is an important first step in this process.
  3. Identify ways to embed the change into standing business processes. Once you have identified the appropriate business partners, take the time to work through your existing business review processes and briefings to determine where it is easy, and most appropriate, to include your change strategies so that it is not perceived as a “one off” change.

As you consider different organizational change efforts, I highly encourage you to identify and explore different strategies to embed change into your standing business processes. Companies that implement these methods have been found to be anywhere from 1.2 to 2 times as likely to succeed in their transformations[2]. In addition, these strategies accelerate the timeline to capture value from these initiatives. Look for ways to incorporate this approach into your change efforts. And, as always, please reach out to The CARA Group for any assistance that you may require at

[1]Losing from day one: Why even successful transformations fall short,” McKinsey & Company, Michael Bucy, Bill Schaninger, Kate VanAkin, and Brooke Weddle.

[2] Ibid.