Three tips to make your change management project a success

Anyone who has read Becoming by Michelle Obama will be familiar with the term ‘swerve’. An academic and fastidious woman who often found it hard to let go, Obama describes how she taught herself to change course — usually not to chase success, but because of it.  

Any modern business needs a similar ability to swerve. Being flexible can create a competitive advantage or to maintain fluidity in a dynamic sector. However, it is the way that change is managed which will determine long-term success. 

Here are three tips for successful change management.   

    1) Lead from the front

    Make sure that senior staff are actively involved in change implementation. Be present on staff training days, be visible during consultation processes, listen to staff concerns. Give your teams ownership of the process that’s relevant to them, but also demonstrate ownership of the project as a whole. That way you will grow staff confidence in the change. In the words of Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, ‘The reality is that the only way change comes is when you lead by example.’ 

    2) Implement changes in phases

    Break down your change into small chunks that can be carefully implemented according to a well-communicated timeline. This will make it easier for both your employees and customers to get used to the new landscape. It will take longer to do it this way, but the change will be more effective in the long run. Entrepreneur Howard Tullman offers up McDonalds as a case study in stealth change success. Over a period of two years, they hatched and executed a plan to consistently but gently increase the strength of their coffee to appeal to new, younger customers while retaining their old and loyal ones, and no one even noticed. 

    3) Regularly report and review

    You should have already decided your performance metrics and have a clear set of goals before you even whisper the word change beyond senior management. Make sure you regularly check in to make sure you’re achieving what you expected, when you expected – and make sure you build in a mechanism for staff feedback to be included in the process. If the change is happening on the ground, then give the ground a voice.


    Change is a necessary part of business life, and CDL are here to help you manage every aspect of it. Speak to one of our consultants if you need advice on implementing change.