Implementing complex projects across regions requires an effective engagement and change management approach. Despite the popularity and common corporate support for the ADKAR model its application often misses the mark.

The ADKAR change management model includes five stages to support engagement, communication, and momentum throughout your project.

Project managers brought on board in the middle of a project are often faced with the mistakes introduced by previous stakeholders. Some of these are reinforced by the current corporate climate and represent ‘business as usual,’ and need to be corrected as soon as possible.

Although not an exhaustive list, factors that unintentionally contribute to stalling the change management process include the following:

  • No project charter (or plan) developed
  • Requirements (or goals) not confirmed
  • Roles (or responsibilities) not confirmed
  • Benefits (or purpose) of project not understood
  • Schedule (or prioritization of steps)

Resistance results from any of these, often because the process seems confusing, contradictory, if not completely in conflict with other corporate and/or individual interests. Consider the following scenarios (the project ‘object’ has been renamed to maintain anonymity):

Scenario 1: The Company has identified that a new ‘shared resource’ will be developed. Because this is a ‘shared resource’ certain standards will be put into place by the employer to ensure it meets the larger corporate expectations. Other partners involved in the project have an invested interest in how this ‘shared resource’ is designed and implemented.

The planning and communications process began several years ago but momentum, continual engagement, and transparency regarding progress on the project was not a top priority. Deliverables often exceeded, or contradicted, original expectations as communication and transparency stalled. Politics increased as roles changed and struggle around the project requirements ensued. Who was the ‘customer’ for the project was eventually open to interpretation.

Scenario 2: The Company has identified a ‘new service’ to be introduced across all the departments. Borrowing standards from outside the company the project initially moved forward at a steady pace. Conflicting priorities, diminished resources, and competing projects ultimately stalled the ‘new service’ project for over a year.

As roles changed among the stakeholder group a new project manager was brought on board. The project plan had updates added (and removed just as quickly) as the stakeholders were engaged, and different priorities were realized.

Scenario 3: The company project has been in operation for several years. A new project manager was brought on board to help audit documentation, processes, and HR subjects to ensure deliverables were provided and goals were met.

The audit unearthed a troubling account of missed targets across the stakeholder groups. A report was provided but no sense of urgency or planned response was developed.

These scenarios share common themes and represent patterns that unfortunately are not all that uncommon. Due  diligence from the onset of the project thru the maintenance phase missed several key points that could have been addressed through a standardized ADKAR change management approach.

The graph illustrates a few of the key change management areas that needed revisiting if the projects were to reach the maintenance phase. Because complex projects across matrix environments often face competition a change management approach to utilize feedback loops is needed.

Project managers entering assignments mid-stream are advised to compare current performance achievements, and criterion, against the ADKAR change management model. Corporations that are truly dedicated (held vs. espoused values) to the project goals will be ready to take a step back and revisit process to strengthen earlier stages if needed.

How is your team reinforcing the ADKAR model and ensuring each stage’ criterion are achieved? Share your stories below.

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