Change is good: managing Change Saturation

Slalom Consulting Roger Kastner

Roger Kastner

It’s probably an all-too familiar scenario at your organization: multiple internal initiatives happening at once, and often competing with each other, falling on the shoulders of stressed-out employees. As new initiatives get added to the heap, productivity—not to mention morale—suffers.

That’s because when employees feel like too many changes are happening at once, initiatives face significant resistance, decreased engagement, and lack of adoption. And that makes it nearly impossible for initiatives to achieve their intended ROI.

We call this Change Saturation, and if our recent survey is any indication, it’s a serious challenge for many organizations. Here’s what we heard:


Internal initiatives should lead to positive changes that add business value. But executing multiple initiatives at once without managing the cumulative effect of employee impacts causes many organizations to buckle under the strain.

Here’s the good news: Whether you’re responsible for a portfolio of projects or driving a single initiative, you can mitigate the negative effects of Change Saturation. Here are the key steps to get started.

Visualize and manage the impacts

If your organization has a change management function, it’s likely that analysis has been conducted to identify the impacts of a project on a target audience. While it’s easy to say that the next step is to roll that data up to the portfolio level, it’s another thing to do it.

That’s why so few organizations do. A recent study by Prosci found that only 32% of organizations are actively managing their portfolios. For those organizations that attempt to manage their portfolio of change, they often use static spreadsheets, which usually don’t reflect the most up-to-date change impacts and thus lead to decisions based on incomplete or obsolete data.

Step away from the spreadsheet and deploy a portfolio dashboard with real-time data providing impact data at the role level over time from individual projects. You’ll gain visibility into where change capacity is breached, where changes conflict, and where two or more projects introduce redundant or soon-to-be obsolete changes.

Implementing a real-time dashboard that aggregates employee impacts at a portfolio level will enable real-time scenario planning to see the effects of changes to projects and programs. By identifying those hot spots of change within your organization, decisions can be made to delay, combine, or eliminate projects that will be made obsolete by a future project.

What’s even more valuable than visualizing the cumulative impacts of change is empowering better portfolio decision-making about when to initiate and execute projects. This process enables addressing—and more important, preventing—Change Saturation, but the process loses all value if leaders don’t execute those decisions.

Changing the bottom line

Portfolio Change Management allows organizations to manage the impacts and accelerate the adoption of new initiatives within the enterprise. By grouping projects into a program and identifying themes and synergies, organizations increase productivity, boost morale, build change resilience, and improve bottom-line performance.

Going to ACMP in Florida next week and want to learn more about our approach to Change Saturation? Join Slalom Practice Director Ray Pitts on Monday, March 31 to learn how to manage change with precision, insight, and accuracy. Get the details here. Can’t make Ray’s session? Stop by the Slalom booth.

If you won’t be joining us at ACMP, you can learn more about our perspective on Change Saturation by contacting Ray Pitts (Seattle), Max Meadow (San Francisco), Joe Kuntner (Denver), Phil Clarke (Chicago), or Jonathan McCoy (Atlanta).


About Roger Kastner
As a member of the Organizational Effectiveness practice at Slalom Consulting, I'm excited to share my perspectives and experiences with Change and Project Management to help clients and practitioners achieve their goals and objectives.

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