No matter what direction you look, the pace of change continues to accelerate.

For this reason, a well-staffed and sponsored Change Center of Excellence (CCoE) makes the difference in whether your organization is on the winning or the losing side of this equation.

In our guide on how to create a CCoE, we focus on four key elements:

  • Charter
  • Quality
  • Consistency
  • Agile Culture

Because we, as change leaders, can effectively manage and lead change when we start with the foundation upon which we build our change initiatives, today we will focus on the first element – charter.

In the same way a company relies on its mission statement to guide its progress, a CCoE succeeds when its Charter acts as its mandate.

This is because it defines the organization’s expectations of the CCoE, as well as how the Center is to meet those objectives.

As a result, an effective, well-charted CCoE contains five critical elements.

1.    Purpose – Why Are We Doing This?

Our purpose statement clearly articulates why we establish the Change Center of Excellence, and the role we expect it to fill.

As a result, with this in place, we can continuously refer back to assess how we are moving toward our change goals.

In order to craft the purpose, the change manager must assess the organization’s maturity level. Is it at the initial state, the operational stage, or the nimble state?

For the change initiative to succeed, the purpose must align with what the organization is positioned to reasonably achieve where it is right now.

2.    Scope – How Far Are We Going?

We need clarity about what changes the CCoE will – and will not – support.

For example, it might support all organization-wide initiatives with a certain risk level, a certain dollar investment, and/or a certain expected level of return.

On the other hand, we could limit it to one department or one process at a time, then gradually roll it out further once we establish our baseline.

Naturally, we may need different approaches depending on what skillsets, technologies, and tolerance for change we currently have.

3.    Strategy – What Are We Doing?

The charter provides strategic guidance as to how the CCoE fulfills its purpose.

A well-written strategy, at a minimum, addresses the following.

  • Positioning: The person or department to whom the CCoE reports impacts the Center’s ability to fulfill its purpose. For example, a CCoE reporting directly to the Chief Operating Officer has the COO’s sponsorship across the entire organization; a CCoE that reports to the Chief Human Resources Officer only gets direct sponsorship from HR. Also, will the change manager be subsumed within the PMO, or near tactical project work only?
  • Organization: What is the organizing model for the CCoE? Are we assigning people to support certain parts of the organization? Are they assigned to support certain types of change initiatives? Etc.
  • Process/Methodology: We must spell out the change management processes and methodology those in the CCoE use. Having a consistent approach to change throughout the enterprise is critical.
  • People: How will we staff the CCoE? What skills do we need to bring on board? Do those in the CCoE have other responsibilities, or are they full-time change management professionals?
  • Level of Support: Will this be high-tactical, which is a more hands-on and driving approach?  Or will it be low-strategic, where the change manager creates the outline and framework for the organization to follow?

4.    Measurement – What Do We See?

How will we assess the CCoE against the expectations set out in the charter?

These metrics include but are not limited to: percentage capacity of growth, degree of organizational maturity as described above, the number of change projects being supported at any given time, and more.

Once we do this, how do we determine whether we, as practitioners, are fulfilling our assigned roles?

5.   Results – What Do We Achieve?

Next, we assess how successfully the Change Center of Excellence meets its charter.

Even though its work is essential to successfully executing change, the Center’s success also depends of course on effective sponsorship, adequate resource commitments.

Change managers use the data from the Measurement element to assess, on an ongoing basis, how successfully the organization meets the objectives stated in the charter.

Conclusion: A Few More Considerations for Your CCoE Charter

In today’s environment, there is virtually no industry that stays competitive without ongoing change.

Moreover, being able to successfully execute change creates a competitive advantage.

Therefore, the more fully and consistently we can deliver on the promises of the change initiatives we undertake, the more competitive advantage we create.

As you design your Charter, use the following as a guide to begin your outline:

  • Avoid and don’t succumb to chaos – change management is too important to punt
  • Start where you are – in fact, you can start with just one person (remember the importance of being realistic about your organization’s maturity level)
  • Build in check-ups that keep you aligned with the results you want to realize
  • There are many change methodologies, but methodology itself is not the answer
  • Certification does not equal competence – look beyond the credentials and consider the capabilities of the organization and the people within it
  • Positioning the entity is critical and high up for transformational change adoption
  • You need to have an internal brand your people can identify with and latch onto as the anchor that holds them steady during the change

For more information to help you design your Change Center of Excellence (CCoE), download our Practitioner Resource on this topic.

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