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Organizational change maturity

Organizational change maturity helps us assess how ready and capable our organization is for change by considering factors such as leadership, technology, capacity, and workplace culture. While not specific to a particular change, it allows us to get a macro view of our organization’s readiness and guides our efforts to build change capacity.

A number of different models exist for measuring this. Generally, they depict organizational change maturity as a continuum of four or five levels of increasing capacity/capability. By understanding where our organization is at on this continuum, and aspiring to reach the next level, we can put in place activities to help us increase our organization’s capacity for change.

*Note: Depending on our particular change and role we may or may not be specifically tasked with increasing change maturity across the organization. No matter our role or change, we can contribute to building organizational change maturity. Ultimately, the goal is to work collectively to get to a level of change capacity that gives us drastic improvement in the outcomes of change initiatives undertaken in the federal public service. We can be part of that.

Below is an example of a change maturity framework, with 5 being the highest level of maturity. There is more content on level 4 because this is the state that we are aiming for. Level 5 is not necessary for all organizations and requires a significant amount of resources to achieve. However, overall, the progression provides guidance to increase our capacity.

High-level organizational change maturity model

Level 1
Ad hoc

No conscious approach or priority exists for change management and change leadership.

Level 2

Some change capacity exists in pockets. Some change tools are being used consistently.

Level 3

Some best practices in change are being applied across multiple projects. There is a more consistent, coherent approach to change, but there is not yet a common approach established for conducting change initiatives.

Level 4

There is an organization-wide priority for effectively managing and leading change. This includes a shift in leadership approach to one based on best practices in change.

  • There is a common change approach and set of expectations driving change initiatives across the agency
  • Project approvals depend on leaders demonstrating that a change leadership mindset and approach is core to the project
  • Change assessments/audits are regularly done to keep change leadership actions central to the success of projects
  • There is a centre of expertise on change that guides the training and application of the best combinations of change methodologies based on the type of change
  • This centre of expertise on change takes into account the context surrounding the change in support of the whole organization, starting with the most senior leaders
  • Change practitioners have the capacity to draw from and combine the best tools and approaches based on the context
  • Change leadership is a key item in the departmental performance management framework

Level 5
Industry leader

Change leadership and change management are an organization-wide competency and priority. The organization is an industry leader in change and is pioneering new tools and methods based on this expertise.

How can we better understand our organizational change maturity?

The important point with change maturity is to get a sense of where our organization is at on the continuum. With this understanding we can contribute to building change capacity. This will help us successfully navigate our own change and position the organization well for further changes.

Regardless of our respective realm of influence, our role, and the nature of our change initiative, we can always positively influence some of the aspects of change maturity.

When building change maturity we can keep in mind seven principles:

  1. Start with a focus on improving change capacity
  2. Build a solid foundation for change
  3. Use processes that engage people early
  4. Ensure leadership stays involved throughout the change
  5. Approach change from a systems perspective
  6. Attend to mindset and culture
  7. Learn and share along the way

The aim of these principles is to guide us in our efforts to build change capacity on our teams, in our organizations and across the federal public service. Following these principles will help us move toward that higher level of capacity.

*Note: For more on these principles, consult these Principles for Public Service Change Maturity.

If we are going to undertake a process to analyze and improve our organizational change maturity, there are a number of tested models that we can work with.

Among others, these include: Change Management Institute, Prosci, ChangeFirst, Human Systems Dynamics. The process of measuring organizational maturity is a fairly major undertaking itself. It is best done when our organizational leadership is aligned with the goal of improving change maturity/capacity.

Next steps

Now that we understand our level of change maturity we can begin assessing in more depth how ready we are for the change. To do so, it is useful to first take a look at the level of change saturation in our organization.

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