Thinking About Creating a Change Leadership Department?

shutterstock_57339457 org chartMore and more large companies have decided to bring change leadership skills in-house. The pace, scale and complexity of change over the years have made it a compelling business strategy.

Several studies and white papers have been written on this topic, including the following recent ones:

Any organization contemplating this decision first needs to answer three critical design questions.

1. Who is your sponsor? You cannot neglect to practice sound change leadership principles yourself. Never forget this is, in and of itself, a change project too! A sponsor with significant business credibility in the organization is essential to success.

2. Who will do this work? Will you staff a team of change leadership specialists working from a Center of Excellence, who deploy against the most critical initiatives? Or will the organization train up many employees from the business units to serve as change leaders on their own projects? Or might you have a hybrid, supplemented with external consultants, based on the scale and complexity of the project?

3. How standardized an approach will you take? Will your organization provide a harmonized set of tools for all change leaders to apply? Or will business leaders or consultants working on each project bring their own tools to adapt to each initiative? Might you apply a materiality threshold to determine when a standard tool set applies and when it does not? Not all change projects are created equally.

Based on how you answer these critical design questions, many additional questions arise to ensure the enablement of your change leaders. Examples include:

  • What change leadership training do you need to offer? A course, or an entire curriculum? Who exactly is the audience for which part(s)?
  • What technology and other interventions do you need in place to facilitate sharing tools and knowledge for and amongst your change leaders?
  • How will you source/staff these skills? Where will these resources fit into your organization structure?
  • How will you manage work intake processes to determine which resources work on which projects?

Best practices can answer each of these questions. However, what works well in one department, business unit, company or industry will not always be effective in another. Much varies based upon company culture.

What have you seen work best in your experience? Please share in the comments below or reach out on Twitter.

Betsy Winkler is Partner at PeopleResults. She has consulted as a change leader both internally and externally for 20+ years. You can reach her on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1 or on email at Sign up to receive her and her colleagues’ blog at Current.