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Four tips for measuring successful change through the transition

Bloomberg Government regularly publishes insights, opinion and best practices from our community of senior leaders and decision-makers. This column is written by Dr. Victoria Grady and Dr. Patrick McCreesh. This column is part six of a ten part series on change management and the federal government. Be the first to see future articles by signing up for Bloomberg Government’s weekly newsletter. 

A few weeks ago, we highlighted four areas that leaders in the new administration should address in a change management plan. Included in the strategy was a set of actionable goals and metrics that align with the strategic objectives.  These metrics track and demonstrate the progress of the change against goals.

As the Trump Administration prepares to govern, these four tips will allow them to effectively measure change:

1. Focus on a Few

Ditch the long lists of metrics! Develop a few outcome-oriented metrics that mirror the strategic results you want to achieve and assign each to an owner that will be accountable. You also need to measure the quality of your business activities that will drive those desired results. For example, with a new system it is great to achieve your strategic goals for user adoption (login) and utilization (frequency), but that doesn’t mean you’re delivering intended benefits. Shift your focus to quality metrics that sync with your change management goals, such as the accurate use of a system or process.

2. Benchmark…Your Adoption and Usage, too

How does your agency stack up against other agencies?  What about the industry?  By benchmarking, an organization can identify best practices and innovate faster.  It’s important to understand that benchmarking doesn’t have to just be an external comparison; consider benchmarking the departments or regions in your agency. Over time, you will be able to determine who are the early adopters, the laggards, and more importantly, the power users, within your change programs.

3. Use Existing Data

It’s important to create a clear picture depicting where you started, but don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Often, the data you need to collect and analyze already exists in the organization, but managers don’t know how to harness its potential. For example, organizational surveys can help determine change readiness and attitude shifts over time. Likewise, analyzing help desk ticket logs and intranet analytics can indicate the effectiveness of online self-service technical FAQ pages in limiting help desk calls for common issues.  Ultimately, using existing data saves time, is accessible, and is cost-effective.

4. Tell a Story with the Data

How do you make data more appealing? Tell a story! Stories play a captivating role in people’s daily lives. Change is not engaging to your stakeholder when the data is presented without a compelling narrative. Explore different ways to use data during the change process. A data story can reveal insights about unclear metrics or it can be a mechanism to increase user adoption and engagement. For instance, connect with your stakeholder and determine their personal interest with the data. Then, convey a story that will drive some sort action or decision towards change.

Successfully measuring change depends on selecting metrics that clearly align with the change strategy and the culture of the agency.  It’s also important not to wait until the end of the change initiative to measure results; measure early and often to track progress.  Ensure there is a sense of where the organization stood before the change, use existing data, and develop compelling stories to tell people the success of the change.