Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Just Because You Can Does Not Mean You Should: Six Ways to Evaluate Change

Six ways to evaluate a change in advance and increase the potential for success.
These six questions came out of the solution implementation phase of my Root Cause Analysis (RCA) process. However they would apply nicely to just about any change you are trying to make.  The point here is to think through the key success factors, ensure that this change is not just for change’s sake, and ensure the change provides the returns we expect over time.  The questions are broken into three basic areas, solution evaluation, risk of the change, and the communication process for the change. If we hit these three areas we can eliminate ninety percent of the issues that cripple most change efforts.
1.    What problem does the change solve? or prevent? In other words what is the true goal of the change? This is what we will test for with our metrics and KPIs so try to keep it measurable.
2.    What is the change worth? What will this provide as a return for our efforts? This becomes the financial driver for the project and should meet your internal standards for Return On Investment (ROI). The important point here is to evaluate the total cost of the change or life cycle cost as we call it and the total savings over that life cycle. Many companies are very good at capturing the savings but not the life cycle cost. This leads to poorly chosen solutions.
3.    Can the problem reoccur? This question helps us understand how effective our chosen solution is versus other options. We are identifying the residual risk and evaluating the options for change.
4.    What problems could it create? This question covers the unintended results of the change. It is a continuation of our risk mitigation planning step where we are making sure we have identified as many possible new failure modes as possible and evaluated their impact.
5.    Who is affected? We know that people are always involved in failures at some level so we must identify who needs to understand the changes to prevent these failures?
6.    What should they know? What training, communication, coaching, or documentation do they need? This combined with the previous step becomes the communication strategy for the change.
If you evaluate each the changes you plan to make with these criteria you are left with a simple goal statement with metrics for improvement, risk analysis, and communication plan that will help you to proactively mitigate issues with your change and truly evaluate the change prior to the expense of implementation has occurred. I hope these six make your life easier and your changes continue to be a success.


  1. Shon, as usual, this is a great read and good perspective. This is a nice and interesting resource. I will share this. Thank you! Take care.

  2. Mark O'Brien-Lubrication Program Analyst-AdviserFebruary 7, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Great article. Thanks. More ammo in the war chest.One reason I embrace the concept of a "roundtable" meeting weekly and monthly for each team assuring the health of the mechanical assets is that change seems to be looked on favorably. The old fears are gone when you are not alone. I envision a team of health care givers working with a group of machines consisting of memebers from the executive suite to the operators and maintenance techs and including procurement as well. The status quo has to go in maintenance cultures and I believe a team like this will seek out the changes needed to optimize asset availability.