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Solving the Puzzle of Successful Transformation

Solving the Puzzle of Successful Transformation

As we enter a new calendar year, many individuals use this as a time to embark on initiatives: exercise more, eat healthier, or limit digital time. Many organizations also pursue new quarterly or annual goals: launch new technologies, update policies and procedures, or adjust business strategies and models.  It’s about starting new, stopping old, and doing things differently overall. And at the end of the day, that’s what we call Change. The success of change can be very elusive, however.

Research indicates that only 9% of individuals’ New Year’s resolutions succeed, meaning that the change is still in effect 12 months later.1 John Kotter, a world-renowned expert on change and transformation, as well as the Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School, states in his book Leading Change that only 30% of change efforts succeed.  

If a success rate of 30% is not acceptable in your organization, then what? 

Prosci’s Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking studies revealed that 93% of participants with excellent change management met or exceeded objectives, while only 15% of those with poor change management met or exceeded objectives.And of course there is a multitude of negative impacts to a project when change management isn’t addressed. Watch for a future blog post on that topic!


But what is Change Management?

Change Management is an enabling framework for managing the people side of change to drive speed of adoption, utilization, and proficiency to achieve desired outcomes that must be incorporated into organizational change and transformation initiatives. From a Workday perspective, the best configured, tested, and launched on-time functionality may check the box for project success, but if users aren’t willing or able to use the delivered functionality, is the project really a success?  

Change Management is far more than sending an email announcement and posting a recorded demo of the new technology, process, or procedure two weeks before going live. (See note above from Prosci differentiating between excellent and poor change management.)

For change to be successful, a focus on the individuals experiencing the change is non-negotiable. If they aren’t prepared, equipped, and supported to make the change, the desired outcomes cannot be achieved.

Effective change management starts when the project begins and continues even after going Live. Some of the key activities that are part of effective change management are noted below with a few examples from a recent change initiative I supported.


Change Management Activity Example
Articulating what is changing and why

Simply stating Performance reviews will now be done via Workday is not enough to drive success.

And while business drivers (leverage investment in Workday, build our talent pipeline, etc) are important, it needs to really speak to what is in it for the end user/employee.

  • Drive goal alignment
  • Quarterly touch points to check in on performance
  • Understand goal attainment as it relates to bonus plan calculations
  • No surprises in the year-end summary, rating, merit, bonus, etc.
Identifying who is impacted

Oftentimes the “everyone” turns out to not be everyone.

  • Corporate only?  
  • Hourly manufacturing? 
  • US or all global entities?
  • If global, are there translation requirements?
Understanding the types of resistance that may be encountered and how to address them

If hourly manufacturing will need to do performance reviews in Workday, 

  • Do they have access to computers to complete a self-review?
  • Will they be allotted time to do this?
  • How will time away to complete reviews be addressed in calculating employee/facility productivity metrics?
Developing the approach to engaging stakeholders throughout the project Stakeholder management is not a one-and-done exercise. As the saying goes, “Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.”, intentional time and effort needs to be put towards engaging both supporters and those not quite on board to increase the success of the project.
Building tools to prepare the targets of the change

Based on the details of the change and organizational culture, how will knowledge, skills, and abilities be built?

  • Knowledge: all company meetings? Intranet site?
  • Skills: job aids? Recorded demos? Team huddles?
  • Abilities: post-Go Live office hours? Support Slack channel? Embedded help text?
Defining what success is from a people perspective

Does the organizational culture expect 100% of the performance reviews to be completed by a stated date?

Is 80% more realistic and acceptable given historical data and accounting for the system and process changes?

Can metrics be captured from an internal supporting ticketing system to articulate volume, categories, and time to resolve?

Planning to reinforce change expectations and celebrate success

Recognizing successes is typically the easy part.  But owning and acknowledging the bumps in the road is also critical.  Expressing appreciation, patience, and flexibility when things don’t go as planned is perhaps more important.

Communicating performance against success metrics is also helpful along with noting what was learned in this cycle that can be applied to the next performance cycle or other transformation initiatives also helps build organizational capacity for change.

While there is plenty of content available surrounding change management, as well as a multitude of approaches and tools for leading change, it’s not ever a one size fits all or rinse-and-repeat process. Just as project plans shift along the way, the change management plan must also adjust as new information surfaces, changes in direction are made, and timelines are extended or condensed.


What can I do to create effective change management in my organization?

  • Engage your internal change management resources in transformational work. Include them as key project team members. And do this immediately, without hesitation! It’s important to involve them from the start.
  • Create a change management workstream for the project and resource it appropriately with key stakeholders, including those responsible for human resources, communication, and organizational training.
  • Work with your change management team to perform some or all of the key activities mentioned in this blog.

Change doesn’t always need to be painful and difficult.  Including excellent change management practices will improve the overall people experience and in turn, the outcomes of the change initiative.


More Information

If you don’t have internal change management expertise or the organizational capacity to take it on, contact Kognitiv to learn more about how we can partner with you. And stay tuned to this blog as we’ll be adding additional change management posts in the future!



1 New Years Resolution Statistics
2 Prosci Research



  • Jennifer Erickson

    Jennifer Erickson has been leading change within the Workday ecosystem for over 5 years and more broadly throughout her entire career in HR, Learning & Development, and Talent both through internal and consulting roles. In addition, she holds a master’s degree in Change Leadership & Organizational Learning from the University of St. Thomas along with SPHR, PMP, and Change Management certifications.

    Based in the Minneapolis, MN area, Jennifer joined Kognitiv in 2022 as a Senior Project Manager with a focus on Change Management. She is passionate about helping employees and organizations achieve success in both project and change initiatives.

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