Valerie Payn
Valerie Payn, President & CEO

The provincial government is following its own advice these days.  The advice that came from the OneNS report to “Be Bold” and to “Do Things Differently”.

Last week, the Chamber participated in a press conference at which major changes were unveiled to the province’s approach to economic development.  The new way will involve some pretty serious change to how Nova Scotia Business Inc., Innovacorp and the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism perform their roles.

While mostly what was talked about was the shifting of responsibility, authority and accountability among these three organizations, it is very important that these three – and the clients they serve – are thrust squarely into the realm of change management.

And change management is tough.  Very tough.  Especially in Nova Scotia.

A recent search on for books on “change management” turned up 73,338 titles.  Ask any five business leaders for the one element that is critical for successful change management, and you will likely get five different answers.

While we can never lose sight of the “soft” side of change, making sure that we have the “right people on the bus,” as Good to Great author Jim Collins would tell us, successful change is more than that.  The soft side is almost table stakes to change: it’s a given, it is difficult, and it must be done right. We have many talented, experienced and capable public servants in these three organizations who will be challenged to embrace the new reality and what it means for them on a front line, personal, day to day basis.

Importantly, though, Harvard University studies have proven that the “hard” factors of change are equally as, if not more, important; and that organizations that have failed to get their change off the ground are those that neglected these factors.

And there are common denominators to look to: Project Duration – particularly the time between project reviews; Performance Integrity, or the abilities of the teams carrying out the change; Commitment of Senior Leadership and Staff, whom the change will affect the most; and Additional Effort that Employees Must Make, to cope with the change.

The Boston Consulting Group has used these four common denominators to predict the outcome of more than 1,000 change management initiatives worldwide.  The correlation holds.

The hardest work is yet to come.  They will need our support and encouragement to deliver on the dream for Nova Scotia.