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Designing Management of Change Processes to Support Your ESG Goals

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A strong management of change program can help drive ESG success. 

Any expert on management of change (MoC) might tell you that MoC has two general purposes: The first has to do with reducing an organization’s risk, while the second is all about continuous improvement. As changes are implemented and your organization adapts, new opportunities inevitably arise. With MoC, you capitalize on those opportunities by effecting new changes that help your organization get to the next level. 

Management of Change: A systematic way to handle changes within an organization that allows it to capitalize on opportunities that arise as a result of those changes. 

Here, we’ll talk about using MoC in the context of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and sustainability performance. Under pressure from regulators, investors, and consumers to produce ESG reports and advance sustainability across your business? You can do it by designing your MoC processes to support your ESG goals. 

From ESG to MoC and Back Again

First, a quick look at ESG itself. The ESG frameworks and strategies organizations use today focus on three overlapping areas. The biggest of these areas—environmental—includes factors like energy usage, waste production, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions, while slightly less prominent is the social piece of ESG, which covers everything related to the people in your organization. Employee health and safety, the health and safety practices of your suppliers, and organizational policies around diversity, equity, and inclusion all fall within this social sphere. 

Finally, governance—the third important part of ESG—is all about operating your business in an ethical and transparent way. Dependent on your organization’s environmental and social policies, your governance program ensures that those policies are followed. 

Management of change enters the ESG picture when you evaluate your organization’s environmental, social, and governance impacts as part of your MoC program. You look at what you’ve done in these areas and how the changes that you’ve made have affected your business and its people, and then you make further changes as needed to improve your overall ESG strategy. 

Building a MoC Program for ESG

The typical management of change program is designed to meet an organization’s needs from a regulatory perspective. Safety and environmental, quality, engineering and operations—these are the common “impact” areas most people associate with MoC. So how can you take your existing MoC program and put it to work in the ESG arena? A good place to start is with a short list of questions that will help you determine what you want to accomplish and the people and processes you’ll need to succeed. 

 Q1: What are you managing control of?

With ESG, this could range from equipment and materials to processes and documents. Also, your suppliers: Who are they and what criteria must they meet in order to work with your organization?

 Q2: Who is involved?

Who are your key ESG stakeholders? These are the people you’ll want at the table providing oversight and input into your change management program.

 Q3: What are the process components?

Take a look at the workflows and checklists that are part of your current MoC program. How can you tweak them to also apply to your ESG concerns and goals?

 Q4: How will you measure success?

Determine what data you will collect to identify and quantify how implemented changes affect ESG. Once you’ve gone over these fundamentals, you can move on to the specifics of your change processes. Look at each of the four key stages of your MoC workflow (in Cority, these steps include “Initiate,” “Evaluate,” “Implement,” and “Close”), and see if there are changes you can make to ensure they’re applicable to ESG. You could incorporate ESG-specific questions into the screening checklist used for impact analysis, for example. And you could (and almost certainly should) add effectiveness checks that look back to see that changes are leading to the desired ESG results. 

Similarly, you can use your MoC software to create notifications and communicate with stakeholders as changes are requested or implemented. Doing so will ensure that nothing is missed as your ESG-related initiatives get underway, and it will give people a chance to speak up if they’re concerned that an impact may have been overlooked. 

Change for the Better

In the end, if you design your MoC processes right, you should be well on your way to achieving your ESG goals. By evaluating changes against the objectives of your ESG program, you’ll reduce the risk that these changes have unintended or potentially negative consequences. You’ll also ensure there’s plenty of opportunity for stakeholders to review, discuss, and recommend alternatives to any proposed changes. And last, you’ll have an easy way to track actions taken to ensure they’re completed correctly and in a timely manner. 

With ESG under your MoC umbrella, you’ll find your environmental, social, and governance initiatives suddenly seem a whole lot more doable. The work will feel less about making big changes, and more about making your organization a place that’s always changing for the better. 

The MoC Workflow

In Cority, the MoC workflow proceeds through four important steps. 

Step 1: Initiate 

  • Initiate/design basis: Who, what, when, where, why, how 
  • Impact analysis: Screening checklist; prompts consideration of potential impacts and hazards; guides the type and level of review conducted 

Step 2: Evaluate 

  • Expert review and sign-offs: qualification; authentication 
  • Approval to implement: authorization 

Step 3: Implement 

  • Implement: construction; testing; training 
  • Pre-startup safety review: construction v. design; procedures; training 
  • Pre-startup review and approval: qualification; authorization; authentication 

Step 4: Close 

  • Documentation and closure: documentation; close-out 
  • Audit or effectiveness check: audit checks; correcting documentation; training 
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