An Organisational Readiness to Change Assessment (ORCA) tool is a diagnostic tool used to evaluate an organisation’s capacity and willingness to make changes.
ORCA Organisational Readiness to Change Assessment Mutomorro

What is an Organisational Readiness to Change Assessment (ORCA) tool?

An Organisational Readiness to Change Assessment (ORCA) tool is a comprehensive instrument designed to evaluate an organisation’s preparedness to implement change initiatives. It was originally developed from the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) framework. This assessment tool plays a crucial role in determining the success of change projects by evaluating various factors that can contribute to or hinder the desired transformation. The ORCA tool is typically used by change management consultants, organisational development professionals, and project managers to gauge the organisation’s current state and its ability to adapt to new processes, technologies, or organisational structures.

The primary objective of an ORCA is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of an organisation in relation to its readiness for change. This assessment takes into account multiple factors, including the organisation’s culture, leadership, communication channels, resources, and employees’ skills and knowledge. By understanding these aspects, organisations can develop targeted strategies to address the challenges they may face during the change process and improve their chances of success.

How is an Organisational Readiness to Change Assessment used?

An ORCA is employed to evaluate an organisation’s ability to undergo change and identify areas that require improvement or support. The assessment process typically begins with a thorough examination of the organisation’s current state, followed by a series of interviews, surveys, and focus group discussions with key stakeholders. The information gathered from these activities is then analysed, and a comprehensive report is generated, highlighting the organisation’s readiness for change.

The findings of an ORCA can be used to inform decision-making and help organisations prioritise their change efforts. For example, if the assessment reveals that an organisation’s employees lack the necessary skills to adapt to new technologies, the organisation can invest in targeted training programs to bridge the skill gap. Similarly, if the assessment highlights communication deficiencies, organisations can develop strategies to improve information sharing and collaboration among employees.

Organisations can also use an ORCA to track the progress of their change initiatives and make necessary adjustments as needed. By regularly assessing their readiness for change, organisations can ensure that they remain agile and adaptable, even in the face of rapidly evolving market conditions.

Areas covered in an Organisational Readiness to Change Assessment

1. Evidence Assessment

Evidence assessment is a key component of an ORCA, as it involves evaluating the quality and relevance of the data and information that support the need for change. This assessment helps organisations determine whether their change initiatives are grounded in solid evidence, which can significantly improve their chances of success.

During an evidence assessment, organisations examine the sources of information that underpin their change proposals, such as research studies, market analyses, and customer feedback. They also assess the quality and credibility of these sources and consider whether the evidence is compelling enough to warrant the proposed changes.

  • Amount of discord within the organisation about evidence
  • Research evidence
  • Organisational experience
  • Customer preferences

2. Context Assessment

The context assessment focuses on the external and internal factors that can influence an organisation’s readiness for change. These factors include the competitive landscape, industry trends, macroeconomic conditions, and the organisation’s culture, values, and structure.

In this assessment, organisations identify the key drivers of change and analyse how these factors might impact their ability to implement the desired transformation. They also examine the organisation’s internal environment, focusing on its culture, values, and structure, to determine how these elements might support or hinder the change process.

These include:

  • Senior leadership culture
  • Staff culture
  • Leadership behaviour
  • Measurement (leadership feedback)
  • Opinion leaders
  • General resources

3. Facilitation Assessment

Facilitation assessment is a crucial aspect of an ORCA, as it evaluates the organisation’s capacity to mobilise resources and support the change process. This assessment focuses on factors such as leadership, communication, employee engagement, and the availability of resources, including time, personnel, and financial assets.

During a facilitation assessment, organisations evaluate the capabilities of their leaders, their ability to communicate effectively, and their capacity to foster employee engagement and commitment to the change process. They also assess the organisation’s resources and determine whether they are sufficient to support the implementation of the proposed changes.

These include:

  • Senior leaders practices
  • Champion characteristics
  • Leadership implementation roles
  • Implementation team roles
  • Implementation plan
  • Project communication
  • Project progress tracking
  • Project resources and context
  • Project evaluation

Examples of using the ORCA

Organisations across various industries have successfully employed the ORCA to assess their readiness for change and improve the implementation of their change initiatives. Some examples include:

  • A retail company planning to introduce a new inventory management system used the ORCA to identify potential barriers to change, such as employee resistance and inadequate training. Based on the assessment’s findings, the company developed targeted strategies to address these challenges and ensure a smooth transition to the new system.
  • A healthcare organisation seeking to improve patient outcomes used the ORCA to assess its readiness for change and identify areas that required additional support, such as staff training and communication. The organisation then implemented strategies to address these challenges, resulting in improved patient care and outcomes.

Limitations of the ORCA

While the ORCA is a valuable tool for assessing an organisation’s readiness for change, it is important to recognise its limitations:

  • The ORCA is a diagnostic tool, and its effectiveness depends on the quality and accuracy of the information gathered during the assessment process. Incomplete or inaccurate data can result in a distorted picture of the organisation’s readiness for change.
  • The ORCA focuses primarily on the organisation’s internal environment, which means that it may not capture the full range of external factors that can influence the change process, such as market conditions and regulatory requirements.
  • The success of the ORCA depends on the organisation’s commitment to the change process and its willingness to address the challenges identified during the assessment. Without this commitment, the ORCA’s findings may have limited impact on the organisation’s change efforts.


The Organisational Readiness to Change Assessment (ORCA) is a valuable tool for evaluating an organisation’s preparedness to implement change initiatives. By examining various aspects of the organisation, including its evidence, context, and facilitation, the ORCA can help organisations identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop targeted strategies to address the challenges they may face during the change process. While the ORCA has its limitations, it remains a powerful instrument for organisations seeking to improve the success of their change initiatives and remain agile in the face of evolving market conditions.


 James Freeman-Gray 

I'm James. A change consultant and organisational development specialist. I've been working in people-centred change for over 15 years. I partner with causes, champions, teams & leaders on projects for social, environmental, technological & human good. If you think I can support in making your change a success, drop me a message. 

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