NIATx Principle #3: Pick a Powerful Change Leader

Submitted by: 05/03/2017 by Maureen Fitzgerald

The NIATx model for process improvement centers on five essential principles that emerged from a research study of improvement projects in various industries. The research team analyzed data from 640 organizations in 13 industries, examining a total of 80 factors. Of the 80 variables examined, only five were statistically significant in differentiating between successful and failed project.

These five variables became the five principles that form the core of the NIATx philosophy, and they’ve been shown to play a critical role in the outcome of a project. 

NIATx Principle #3: Pick a Powerful Change Leader

The data review stressed the importance of assigning a leader with strength and authority to lead a project. In the NIATx model, the “executive sponsor” of a change project selects one person to be the project leader—the change leader—to manage the change team and to supervise and direct the project. The change leader is held responsible for making the change project a success. For a project to be successful, it needs to be led by someone who is respected by colleagues at every level of the organization and who can keep the agency’s senior leadership interested in and committed to the project. The change leader should be someone who’s comfortable calling the CEO at home at night to discuss the project, and who has the authority, power, and skills to do whatever it takes to keep the project moving forward.

The Change Leader serves as a liaison between the executive sponsor and the change team, communicating progress reports to the executive sponsor, and sharing feedback with the team.  Other duties include:

·       Monitoring project deadlines and data collection

·       Assigning tasks to the change team

·       Directing Plan-Do-Study-Act (rapid cycle) tests

·       Running change team meetings

·       Maintaining energy: keeping the team motivated and engaged

A great Change Leader is comfortable providing day-to-day leadership, energy, enthusiasm, and coordination. He or she also needs to have the time commitment required to get things done.

Adapted from The NIATx Model: Process Improvement for Behavioral Health

Related resources: 

Process Improvement Primer: The Five Principles

Appoint a Change Leader

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