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measuring success

Ten Tips on How to Measure Change Management Success

I have an opportunity to present “How do we Measure Success in Change Management?” to a group of change management consultants, my peers.

Selecting key performance indicators (KPIs) continues to be a hot topic for organizational initiatives, from learning & development to large scale transformations: how do you measure the benefits of this type of investment?

There are many ways to do this incorrectly, such as measuring things that:

  • aren’t directly connected to the initiative, e.g. an office relocation measured by website traffic levels;
  • are influenced by multiple factors, e.g. leadership training measured by net profit gains;
  • can’t be measured with data, e.g. goodwill;
  • leaders do not care about;
  • no one is responsible for measuring;
  • are not reviewed with leaders after they are measured; or
  • claim to calculate return on investment (ROI) without stating how.

ROI is the Holy Grail of performance measurement because it implies financial significance and accuracy. A good investment is one where the tangible benefits gained are greater than the costs incurred to secure them.

Measuring change in this way is challenging, if not impossible, because the numbers are typically based on subjective estimates. For example, I heard someone proclaim that sales training resulted in 25 percent of his company’s annual sales increase. Based on what? Usually these estimates are guesses based on impressions, or wishful thinking, versus facts, which negates the significance and accuracy they are intended to establish.

Here are some suggestions on how to measure change management success:

  • Set expectations that change management (or any organizational initiative) is a contributor to hard results, not the only contributor.
  • Pick a few strong KPIs versus a long list of them―it focuses the evaluation exercise and reduces resource requirements.
  • Focus on the metrics that leaders value―others may help you but they will be viewed by the organization as irrelevant.
  • Gain agreement on what data will be tracked by whom at the beginning of an initiative―the data and the resources to collect it may not exist.
  • Include tracking responsibilities in people’s goals―it will increase the likelihood they will be tracked well and people will be rewarded for doing so.
  • Be clear on how long KPIs will be measured―most benefits are realized months or a year past implementation.
  • Gain leaders’ commitment to review results for the duration―what gets reviewed by leaders gets measured.
  • Gather anecdotal feedback from people who are working with the changes―verbatim comments help describe benefits and lessons learned.
  • Use tracked results to support business cases for future initiatives―this is often a missed opportunity.
  • Communicate results to the entire business―it increases engagement and invites people to celebrate wins and learn from mistakes.

I am looking forward to discussing the measurement of change management with my peers. It will be difficult to measure how much I will learn, but I know it will be a lot. 


How do you count success?

An envelop was waiting for me when I arrived home from the airport on Wednesday.  It was my first sales and royalty statement from Wiley. 

Sales is a key indicator of success for many authors. “How are sales going?” is the number one question I am asked about my book. 

Wiley’s Canadian Sales VP had educated me  about how this market worked. She said that unlike fiction books that have a six month launch period, business books have an 18 to 24 month selling window. “Don’t expect huge sales from your first book in the first three months,” she counselled. This was good to know, but I wanted them anyway. What better way to define success?

My publicist had also shared that 95 percent of business books sell less than 500 copies in total. Good to know. Not what I wanted to hear, but good to know.

In the first three months, Change with Confidence had sold 1,484 copies, 1,286 in the US and Canada and 178 in other countries. I felt relieved and grateful. 

The next day, I noticed that this good feeling wasn’t as pleasurable or intense as  the ones I experience after reading an email from a reader or review . 

Perhaps the difference between them is emotion. There is little emotion in a spreadsheet, but  a huge amount in hearing personal stories, reading someone’s views, or forming relationships. They are full of meaning and their effects last longer. 

In life, we are taught to set goals and measure progress. Our sense of achievement is tied to our ambitions and how we measure them. Perhaps we should spend more time identifying the dimensions of progress and then measure all of them. The numerical ones are important but the emotional ones are too.


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