Managing Change

Change is intrinsic to international development and organizational reform efforts. Effectively managing the change process is required if desired results are to be fully achieved. MSI understands this, and more importantly, how successful change management is undertaken. Our efforts on behalf of clients explicitly consider the desired change at every step of the process.

For over a decade, MSI led a consortium of organizations responsible for USAID’s Implementing Policy Change (IPC) project, the only U.S. government foreign assistance effort ever explicitly focused on change management. This renowned project remains unmatched in terms of many achievements. The techniques developed by MSI under IPC, such as stakeholder analysis, are relevant for supporting any change management process.

Change occurs in many realms, including policy, political, institutional, organizational, and perhaps most significantly, behavior. It can either advance or retard achievement of desired results. Although change must be anticipated, not all can be managed. The strategic management techniques used by MSI recognize this distinction and account for both types of change.

MSI uses the Performance Management Plan (PMP) process to track and report on performance, and to identify and respond to both unanticipated and desired change. This involves not only desired results (positive change relative to the problem being addressed), but change related to an underlying development hypothesis, or a critical assumption associated with the “solution set.”

The PMP tracks positive change trends in-line with established targets, but also whether evidence indicates a development hypothesis is proving to be correct, or if critical assumptions (which are often predicated on lack of change) are holding true. If the hypothesis or assumption/s are proving false, undermining achievement of the desired change or result, then management action is required. This is the essence of strategic or Results-Based Management (RBM), which is at the center of MSI’s approach to its work.