The change fitness of an individual or an organisation is the best predictor of successful change outcomes.  Given that change is an unavoidable element of growth (and even just survival) it is common sense to develop change fitness. But how do you know what needs to be developed, and where you should start?

The best place to start is with a change fitness audit.

What does an audit cover?

Any comprehensive change fitness audit should begin by assessing personal fitness.  There are 16 critical components of personal change fitness and it is important to identify and measure each of these and the relationships that exist between them.  This assessment provides a framework for understanding the person’s general ability to handle change; whether change in their personal life, or change in the workplace.  This not only provides an understanding of their capacity to handle change, but identifies individual change strengths that could be utilised in the workplace, and weaknesses that could become risk factors if not managed effectively.

If an organisation is the subject of the audit, the scope extends beyond the individual to include cultural, structural, and managerial components. These three organisational change fitness components work alongside individual fitness to play a key role in the organisation’s ability to effectively and successfully handle change. There are more than 25 key components of cultural change fitness, a similar number for managerial fitness, and 5 key components of structural change fitness.  Only by assessing all these components and the relationships that exist between them can you get a clear picture of the organisation’s change fitness, its strengths and weaknesses.

How is an audit conducted?

An individual change fitness audit is conducted through our online quantitative assessment tool called IRVEY.  The audit provides a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s change fitness and takes around 30 minutes to complete.  If an entire organisation or a team is to be audited, each person within the organisation or team should complete the assessment.  The results of this audit provide essential and valuable information about the change strengths and weakness of each person, and of the organisation or team as a whole.  This tool provides a low cost method of assessing individual change fitness.

Auditing cultural, structural, and managerial change fitness is usually done using qualitative methods that may include interviews, surveys, observations, documentary evidence, or focus groups. The cost of this audit depends on the size of the organisation, the scope of the audit, and the level of detail required.

What are the benefits of an audit?

There are three main benefits of a change fitness audit.

  • The first is that having identified your change fitness strengths and weaknesses puts you in a better position to develop a change strategy that accurately reflects what you are capable of achieving. Many organisations set change goals that are either unrealistic for them or that are implemented with strategies that are ill-suited to their strengths and limitations.  This accounts for much of the high failure rate in organisational change, not only resulting in vast amounts of wasted money and time, but also damaging the organisation’s people and culture.  Understanding your change fitness decreases your risk of failure.
  •  The second benefit is that an audit enables you to target interventions that will improve your overall change fitness. When you identify specific areas of weakness you discover not only how to minimise risk but also how to maximise return.  Targeting specific areas and specific people for training, coaching, or mentoring gives you the best ROI for your development dollar.  Training is often ineffective because it is scatter-gun and doesn’t target the specific areas that will make the most difference.  An audit helps you be targeted in your approach.
  •  The third benefit is more of an indirect implication for the change fitness of your organisation. Knowing your current change fitness allows you to make more informed decisions about recruitment choices.  Knowing that weaknesses exist in specific areas within your organisation may have implications for the change fitness profile of future employees.  Sometimes talent acquisition is the most immediate and cost effective way of overcoming specific weaknesses.

Einstein once famously said that God doesn’t play dice with the universe, meaning that the future of cosmos is not up to chance.  But many businesspeople take huge chances with change.  In many cases, they know the odds – the 70% failure figures haven’t changed in over 70 years.

A change fitness audit doesn’t guarantee successful change, but it’s the best place to start if you want to be successful.  Talk to us today about your pathway to successful change.

Steve Barlow PhD