What is Change Management? 2

Mostly Change Management

I like the idea that change is mostly about Leadership.

As a practitioner I have discovered that genuinely involving staff in implementing the change is the key.

Put simply, leading others to change themselves works best in the long-term.

A useful summary of the process I generally follow:

  1. Establish a sense of purpose. What is there to gain / What happens to us if we do not act?
  2. Identify early adopters and work with them from day one. Involve everyone, yes everyone, at all levels. Spot the “negatives” and try to tune into and comment on their chatter. Adopt strategies to diffuse it.
  3. Create a “story” about what work will be like when the change has happened. A realistic, believable, deliverable story. Tell it to everyone, at all levels, every day, until you are thoroughly bored with hearing it. Then tell it some more.
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate, in appropriate…

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2 comments

  1. Nice piece.
    Solid, realistic & practical.

    The closing remark about the people fearing change being imposed upon them reminds me of a conversation with Michael Kirton – he of KAI fame.

    He argued that accusing people of being resistant to change is actually rather pathetic; the human race got where it is today as a result of change, so the evidence doesn’t really support the accusation. What the epithet Change Resistant usually means is ‘not totally convinced by the particular change that seems likely to be foisted upon us’.

    One of the strengths of the piece is the early emphasis on involving folk; if *all* of the people are working on the solution, then it’s much more likely to be robust and effective. Problem is, the major prerequisite for this is a culture wherein people feel that their voice matters and will be listened to; otherwise exhortations to ‘get involved’ will be greeted by indifference or even cynicism.

    Which brings us back to leadership; maybe the primary task of a leader is the creation/maintenance of a helpful culture?

    • David,

      Thank you for the positive comment.

      Your observations about culture are spot on. As a freelance change project manager I have seen many different environments and cultures; and staff involvement has been the key to progress in most cases, but to a different extent.

      Where culture is collaborative, staff tend to expect involvement. Here the change managers task is to steer that involvement in a way that will achieve the corporate aims.

      Where the culture is directive, staff are often surprised that they are being asked for ideas and opinions; indeed I have often found that the expectation has been “trained” out of them.

      In both cases, being an outsider really helps, at least initially.

      In my work projects the staff affected by change can usually be split into three groups of leaders, followers and negatives.

      The first two will trust an external change manager who is open, clear about objectives and can communicate well. Once they start trusting it is generally just a matter of steering the leaders activity, reassuring the followers and making sure the change scope does not change (i.e. last minute senior management interventions).

      The third group, the negatives, are a different challenge. Sometimes they never come around to accepting change, but when they do, they can be the strongest advocates. If they don’t, one has to assess whether they are in the wrong place and/or whether the organisation can live with that. In any project it is vital that the negatives are not able to influence the followers.

      Finally, I fully agree with the last sentence of your comment. Leaders need to create the culture. Some organisations seem to thrive on a culture of “helpfulness” whereas others equally thrive on the opposite. The leader has to create the culture that will work for a given situation in a particular place.

      Have a great week

      Adam Blackie

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