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What is Change Management?

Change management is a team effort

Change management is the ability to link the structural change with the behaviors and ownership needed by the people to rapidly achieve your desired business outcomes.

5 Types of Change to Manage

Before we talk about change management, let’s explore different types of change. There are five types of change that are good to consider. I like the way that walkme.com describes the types.

  1. Organization-Wide Change – large scale transformation that affects a whole company.
  2. Transformational Change – involves rapidly changing your strategy for achieving your business outcomes which can be in one area or across the company.
  3. Personnel Change – where there is a significant shift in personnel make up based on rapid growth or rapid decline.
  4. Unplanned Change – which of course means an external driver is causing change that could not be anticipated
  5. Remedial (or Incremental) – which address either deficiencies in current performance or a need for improvement in performance or processes rather than a transformation in the approach or culture.

When is Change Management Important?

Whenever you are dealing with a complex change, one that will require a new mindset in roles, responsibilities, and behaviors change management becomes an essential component. This is especially true of organization-wide, transformational, and personnel changes, because the ownership and behavior change of the people involved is essential to success.

Popular Change Models

  • ADKAR: The ADKAR model, created by Prosci founder Jeff Hiatt, consists of five sequential steps:
    • Awareness of the need for change;
    • Desire to participate in and support the change;
    • Knowledge about how to change;
    • Ability to implement change and behaviors; and
    • Reinforcement to sustain the change.
  • Bridges’ Transition Model: Change consultant William Bridges’ model focuses on how people adjust to change. The model features three stages: a stage for letting go, a stage of uncertainty and confusion and a stage for acceptance. Bridges’ model is sometimes compared to the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance).
  • Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change: Harvard University professor John Kotter’s model has eight steps:
    • Increasing the urgency for change
    • Creating a powerful coalition for change
    • Creating a vision for change, communicating the vision
    • Removing obstacles
    • Creating short-term wins
    • Building on them
    • Anchoring the change in corporate culture
  • McKinsey 7S: Business consultants Robert H. Waterman Jr. and Tom Peters designed this model to holistically look at seven factors that affect change:
    • Shared Values
    • Strategy
    • Structure
    • Systems
    • Style
    • Staff
    • Skills

Unlock Secrets to Rapid Change Management & Culture Transformation.

3 Change Management Traps to Avoid

Not integrating people into change management with the project

Too often organizations consider change management after the fact or make it a separate but related initiative. The problem with this is critical elements get missed in the planning process that will undermine its success. As an example, a new IT system was implemented to automate and improve a call center. The system was implemented flawlessly, but the operators were suspicious of the new system, found it cumbersome and therefore didn’t update the data as need opting to keep their own information for fear of the system losing it. The result was that instead of better data, saving time, and improving results, performance and overall trust in the system went down.

Assuming training and communication alone is managing change

Another trap is assuming that if you communicate well and give people the training they need, you have managed the change—far from it. Regardless of the buy-in and understanding up front, under pressure people will go back to old mindsets and behaviors. To manage the change, you need to anticipate and allow for this and have proactive systems of recovery built into your change to be able to surface this issues and support people getting back on track.

Assessments that focus on the past

While studying past breakdowns can have benefit for Remedial or Incremental change, it is detrimental to organizational, transformational, or personnel types of change. Focusing on the past keeps people stuck in the past and will create resistance you are attempting to avoid.

Effective transformation change management always starts with the future picture and that future picture is driven by three things: 1) A company’s aspirations, 2) It’s external business drivers, 3) It’s current constraints and challenges.

A Strategy for Managing Transformational Change – B STATE

If you want to successfully manage transformational change, rapidly achieving your business outcomes and creating an accountable culture that can adapt to change, here are five steps:

Align on a Future Picture of Success

Many approaches spend a lot of time on either assessing the past issues (to be corrected by the strategy), focusing only on the measurable goals, or both. What these immediately focus people on is the past and the challenges. When you start by describing the future picture together, it’s a game changer. It gives new life and context to everything you are doing. Problems that were problems of the past may not exist in the future picture, or certainly will be handled differently. This is the number one key to alignment and engagement.

Commit to New Habits

Once you have the future picture of success, ask the question: how do we need to behave and function differently as a unified leadership team to achieve our Picture of Success? This automatically surfaces challenges and issues in the context of the needed solution rather than the problem. Once again, it puts people in the position to own overcoming barriers and constraints right from the start.

Agree on Organizational Priorities

Everyone sets priorities, but almost no one sets them in a way that brings focus to the entire organization so that people collaborate and share resources on what is the most critical to accomplish. Instead, people declare new priorities without taking things off the plate, so everything becomes priority #1. The result is nothing is a priority, so everything and everyone suffers. Even if a company does agree on the critical few priorities, they then assign the responsibility to and individual or function. Instead, for those vary top priorities, executives need to retain ownership for support the critical few with needed resources and work as a think tank to remove any barriers to success.

Transform Your Leadership Meetings

Even if you do all three steps above, if you don’t transform your leadership meetings from status updates (a glorified project meeting) to problem-solving and decision-making meetings to keep your most important company initiatives moving forward, you’ve lost again.

Establish Proactive Recovery Plans

Finally, no strategic plan is going to go smoothly because of the unexpected. Instead of trying to avoid the unexpected, plan for it. You won’t know what it will be exactly, but you can create a proactive recovery plan that answers the following questions:

  • What are the most likely breakdowns we will face?
  • If they occur even though we tried to mitigate them, how do we surface the issue, and to whom, as quickly as possible?
  • Then how do we pull the right people together to adjust and respond?

It’s much like a fire drill plan. You hope it doesn’t happen, but what you are prepared for in advance is how to let people know and what to do.

Put these five things in place, and people will walk out feeling re-energized and confident in their ability to “execute” this new plan, no matter what.

Transformational Change Management Example

After two plus years of failed efforts, an IT group was faced with 18 months to complete the change. In 9 months, resistant middle managers rallied to lead a B STATE business model change that became a company-wide transformation, which…

  • Saved 45 million Euros per year
  • Completed 100% of the 7 most important projects on-time (a first)
  • Reduced IT project load from 1300 projects to 240
  • Based on correlated measures, demonstrated a dynamically sustainable Culture Change

How did they accomplish this after being unable to for such a long time?

  • Executives painted a clear picture of the drivers and the needs
  • The operational managers below then got together as a cross-functional team to:
    • Paint the figure picture of success
    • Create new habits of collective execution as a cross-functional leadership team
    • The set the priorities for their IT group together
    • Then outlined how they would meet differently (collaboratively) to monitor, problem-solve and support forward action, movement, and momentum for the change
    • And they anticipated breakdowns and built recovery plans into their regular meeting.

Their hard deadline was 18 months or they risked being outsources. We set the goal together at 12 months, and they accomplished it all in 9 months.

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