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A New Year and New Journey


I’m on a road trip! My husband, Jay and I have packed up the car and are heading to Florida to visit my father. It’s been a while since my last road trip and this endeavor reminds me of the parallels between a road trip and a change journey.

Now, navigating a change management implementation may seem different from a road trip, but a closer look reveals surprising similarities. Both journeys require careful planning, effective communication, and adaptability to unexpected twists and turns. As a proponent of developing a thorough understanding of the process groups in the ACMP Standard for Change Management, I’d like to share how the process groups mirror the stages of a road trip in how to successfully reach your destination.

Setting the Course: Every successful road trip begins with a well-defined destination and purpose. Similarly, in change management, process group 5.1 Evaluate Change Impact and Organizational Readiness focuses on defining and identifying the value of the change and establishing a clear vision of the future state. This stage sets the course, just like selecting your road trip destination and plotting the route on a map. Identifying key stakeholders and securing their commitment along with assessing the impact of the change, and organizational readiness to adopt change, parallels ensuring all passengers are on board and aligned with the trip's objectives and that the vehicle is prepared and checked before beginning the journey.

Charting the Route: Planning is the backbone of any road trip and change management initiative. In The Standard this process group is known as 5.2 Formulate the Change Management Strategy. Just as you plan your route, accommodations, and stops along the way for a road trip, as a change manager you may meticulously review the information from the assessments to help outline the approach you intend to use for the communication, sponsorship, stakeholder engagement, training & development, and resource requirements. Both endeavors require considering potential obstacles and developing contingency plans to stay on course, whether it's a detour on the highway or unexpected resistance to change within the organization. This planning continues into The Standard process group 5.3 Develop the Change Management Plan which pulls together the approach of the strategy and the logistics and tactics of the change management plan.

Hitting the Road: Once the plan is in place, it's time to hit the road or, in the context of The Standard 5.4 Execute the Change Management Plan. This is the fun stuff, the actual execution of the planned activities. This phase involves implementing the communication plan, training programs, and other interventions outlined in the change management plan. Like a road trip where you actively cover the miles, the executing stage requires active engagement to drive the change forward. Flexibility is key, whether adapting to unforeseen road closures or adjusting the change plan based on real-time feedback. Just as you continuously monitor your progress during a road trip to ensure you stay on track, change managers must stay vigilant during the implementation/execution phase. Monitoring and tracking key performance indicators, addressing issues promptly, and adjusting the plan as needed is essential. Road trips may require adjusting routes due to unexpected closures or taking detours to explore interesting landmarks – a parallel to adapting the change plan based on emerging challenges or opportunities.

Reaching Your Destination: The road trip concludes when you reach your destination, and change management similarly culminates in the 5.5 process group, Completing the Change Management Effort. This involves reviewing outcomes and capturing lessons learned, incorporating best practices into procedures, celebrating successes, and ensuring that the change becomes embedded in the organization's culture.

Just as you reflect on the highlights of your road trip, Complete the Change Management Effort allows change managers to evaluate the change's overall impact and identify areas for improvement in future initiatives. In the grand journey of change management, comparing the process groups to a road trip provides a relatable and engaging perspective. Both undertakings require careful planning, effective execution, numerous snacks, and continuous adaptation to ensure a successful outcome. By embracing the principles of the ACMP Standard for Change Management, organizations can navigate the change highway with confidence. The fun of a road trip may lie in the complete departure from our ordinary life and discovering attractions, as well as our unknown internal resources throughout the trip. A change journey also moves us from our ordinary state into an extraordinary state where creativity, resilience, and resolve are put to the test while moving toward and finally adopting change.

Recognized as one of the Top 30 Global Guru’s in Organizational Culture both in 2021 & 2022, April is an internationally known organizational change management expert who has implemented change for government, health care, higher education and corporate clients. April is the author of four books including the bestsellers “READY, Set, Change! Simplify and Accelerate Organizational Change” and “READY, Set, CCMP™ Exam Prep Guide".  Contact her at [email protected]