Successful organizational change management strategies integrate change steps with design efforts to define a new structure early on in the process.
Almost every organizational change - with the exception, perhaps, of initiatives exclusively focused on changing organizational culture - will include a component of organizational structural change. In such cases, the strategy should be to start the change management process very early on in your work - or, to put it differently, make your communications plan, organizational development activities, and other dedicated change interventions a first priority of your organizational change management plan.
Implementing change must start in the design phase of changing the organizational structure
Defining and implementing a new organizational structure is a social process. As a result, broad involvement of key stakeholders, and opportunities for them to contribute their insights and ideas, is critical to the new organizational structure successfully serving its purpose. From an organizational change perspective in particular, stakeholder participation in problem solving across different parts of the organization does several things:
It strengthens the design by reflecting multiple perspectives
It lays the foundation for successful organizational change management, as it allows for buy-in early in the process
It triggers sense-making in the new structure, thus fostering informal relationships between stakeholders, which are of key importance for any structural set-up to be effective in practice
A three-step process for successful organizational, structural change
As part of the process guidance for the Organizational Structure Kit, we propose a tested three-step organizational design and change process of initiating, designing, and testing. This process typically involves iterations. For example, tests will probably be conducted early on (e.g., via thought experiments, simulations, discussion of examples) and debate on additional issues and details will be initiated later in the process.
A key insight from numerous change efforts that we have supported is that you should have an integrated view of your design process and the change management in order to get to a new organizational structure. Key activities of your design work can prepare for, initiate, and sustain change. And dedicated change and organizational development activities can be utilized for the design of the organizational structure, for example, by gathering crucial feedback on early ideas and organizational prototypes.