How to apply The Magic Formula for Change to Process Redesign and Project Management

How to apply The Magic Formula for Change to Process Redesign and Project Management

Gleicher’s Magic Formula for Change is a respected model for organisational change and is often applied to project management. A crucial requirement of Process Redesign is that people embrace and use it across the business. Process redesign (or re-engineering) in a business environment, is defined as:
“the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical contemporary measures of performance such as costs, quality and speed.” (M. Hammer and J. Champy. 1993 Re-engineering the Corporation.)
Process redesign involves rethinking business processes and redesigning them, with change as a key component of the process. Change is an integral part of both Process Redesign and Project Management.

The process of change involves consumer behaviour

Change consultants might be used to implement process redesign that in theory will save costs and increase performance, however, unless people believe in it and want to change as well, the change will never be fully successful.
Communications and change expert, Everett Rogers asserted that people change by their consumer behaviour profile. That is, people ‘consume’ change.
Rogers argued that most people consume change poorly. If you look at this table, it’s clear that more than 50% of any group of people will not pro-actively embrace change. In fact, if we’re talking about embracing change well, surprisingly less than 16% of any group will do so.
2.5% Innovators

  • Create change and innovation
  • Seen as slightly radical
  • Cope well with uncertainty

13.5% Early adopters

  • Gatekeepers of new ideas into systems, services and products
  • The opinion leaders

34% Early majority

  • Will adopt new ideas, systems, services, products after deliberation

34% Late majority

  • Might adopt the change as a result of increased pressure from peers
  • Sceptical of changes

16% Laggards

  • The ‘hardest nuts to crack’
  • Are not fashion followers
  • Are the last to change
  • Only change if there is a ‘penalty’ for not changing
  • Suspicious of change agents

Therefore, when the innovators and early adopters (collectively termed ‘change agents’) start exciting the marketplace with something new, more than 84% (34% deliberators and 50% sceptical) will not be interested.
Redesign process for effective and successful project management

What drives change in people and organisations?

Research shows that 60%-70% of organisational change projects fail.
As so often seen, marketing messages about innovations can fail to excite, as they are often crafted by innovators already sold on the change. Change agents are unable to view change from the perspective of sceptics and laggards.
People and organisations change when they:

  • Believe in the cause
  • Believe in the champion/s
  • Believe in the consequence
  • (and, then, only if they want to)

Often the 16% hot to trotters have well and truly moved on to the next project before the laggards have even started to consider buying into the same change.

Is there a Magic Formula for Change?

Gleicher’s Formula was developed and refined by David Gleicher and Richard Beckhard in the 1960s.
Known as the magic formula for change, and in brief, it is explained as follows.
D + V + P > C

  • D = Desire/Dissatisfaction/Distress – the strength of commitment to and desire/drive for change, dissatisfaction with or distress from the present situation.
  • V = Vision – the future and benefits flowing from the change, the desired future state.
  • P = Plan (particularly first steps) – the competency of the change plan, particularly the first steps to get change momentum across everybody.
  • must be greater than

  • C = Cost/Resistance – the cost of and/or resistance to the change (emotional, relationships, physical, monetary, time, etc.).

All these elements need to be in place or the change will fail.

Successful Process Redesign begins with People

Process redesign and the potential changes it can bring are exciting. Every business wants improved productivity and increased bottom line results. In project management, as in life, successful and lasting change only happens when all stakeholders embrace and work together to a common cause and consequence. Remember to use The Magic Formula next time you are implementing a project management change in your business.