What is “Change Management”? And, is definition important?
July 14, 2011, 8:24 am
Filed under: - Change Execution
, - Organization Change Management
, - People Change Management
, - Strategy Execution
| Tags: Adoption
, Burning Platform
, Change Management
, Organization Design
Ask 10 people “what is change management?” and you will get 10 very different answers. So YES definition is important!
Many Leaders come to the term “Change Management” and intuitively believe they know what it means – and that they are already doing it. However, behind these innocuous words is a highly specialized discipline that has been evolving over the past 60 years.
Understanding Change Management offers untapped opportunity to drive more value to the bottom line.
The broad definition
It’s about “managing change”, i.e. taking a strategy and managing the implementation right? Well, yes, in the broadest sense.
My own definition starts from strategic alignment and extends through delivery to seeing the results track in.
Change management encompasses an array of multi-disciplinary capabilities:
- Leadership and Strategic Planning
- Project specific capabilities, e.g. Strategic Marketing, Organization Design and Development, Business Process Re-engineering, Technology Implementation
- People Change Management (PCM), Training and Communications
- Portfolio / Program / Project Management
Realizing full ROI only happens when ALL of these are INTEGRATED and OPTIMIZED.
Of note, you will see “Change Management” appear on many position descriptions and job postings these days. This reference typically refers to a general understanding of the nature of change and high level awareness of the process that might be required for straightforward transitional change.
Underneath this broad definition though is a deeper, more powerful, resource - what I term “People Change Management”. It is increasingly recognized that this so-called “soft stuff” represents the highest risk to transformational change. It also represents the greatest opportunity for driving value and for competitive advantage.
The deep definition - People Change Management (PCM)
Kurt Lewin got us started and many others have continued the work of understanding how to help people traverse change. The business notion is that the faster we can get employees to stop doing the old thing and start doing the new thing, the faster the ROI comes in.
Some of the renowned names in the field include: William Bridges, John Kotter, Peter Senge. Others have gone deeper and applied it to the ”hows” of managing change faster and better: Linda Ackerman-Anderson, Dean Anderson, Rick Mauer, Jeff Hiatt and our own Daryl Conner.
How do I think of People Change Management? It:
- Reduces people-related risks (eg resistance and misunderstandings) that effect costly delays, re-work, error / waste and turnover
- Increases and expedites user “adoption, proficiency and ultimate utilization” (Prosci Learning) thereby optimizing business results
- Encompasses a structured process and tool sets
- Includes: Leader (Sponsor) support, stakeholder management, change readiness, business impact, communication, training, and change metrics as well as contingency planning and interventions as required
- Engages users in the change, shares information, improves solutioning and expedites the transition to the ‘new state’
How does Conner Partners define “Change Management”?
Change management is the orchestration of change in a way that identifies and addresses the human risks involved in implementing change. This strengthens the individual and organizational ability to handle change well and increases the chances that the change will be put successfully into practice.
Of note, this very tactical and process-driven application of Change Management is deployed within Programs and Projects. It is substantively different than the generic competency requirement on position descriptions and job posting.
Mastery at this level prepares Leaders and Practitioners to deal with high risk, disruptive change – transformational change. Mastery often encompasses Organizational Development capabilities associated with: organizational behaviour, organizational design, learning and development, compensation, culture change, etc.
PCM Current Maturity Levels?
Prosci Learning has a neat little Maturity Model here that articulates a development path from novice to mastery. My experience is that few organizations have reached level 5 – and even fewer have an integrated, end-to-end, execution approach (a PMO is not “it”).
Most organizations are great at some components of change or they would not be around today. However, few (very few) are great at the whole array.
What a great opportunity for developing competitive advantage! In fact, many Fortune 500 companies are going beyond adding the generic competency onto position descriptions and beyond adding Change Management checklists into project management methodology. Many are in the process of developing Enterprise capability through Change Management Communities of Practice, Centres of Excellence and even dedicated leadership positions.
Deeper still – specialties within Change Management
In a recent discussion on LinkedIn one of the practitioners I have come to respect, Faith Fuqua-Purvis, proposed the notion of specialists within Change Management (much as within engineering there are Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, etc). I see this as key, for example “Communications” in Change Management is NOT the same as broadcasting information – it is not a PR or MarCom definition – it requires engaging Change Targets in 2-way dialogue. Furthermore, the notion of “risk communication” is also important here – effectively communicating with people who are “in crisis” is very different than day-to-day communications.
The specialities could include:
- Defining strategic intent at an operational level with a realization focus, e.g. developing Vision and Mission Statements (not as simple as it sounds – I have seen many a project set the wrong trajectory with the wrong vision / mission statement – and this is NOT something that should be a whimsical engagement ploy)
- Training and coaching sponsors and agents in change leadership/management
- Enrolling sponsors and targets in this change. Surfacing and resolving resistance. Building and sustaining commitment.
- Developing and deploying communications (informational and conversational, commitment focussed)
- Anticipating, designing, resourcing and deploying specific types of interventions
- Risk Management (against proven risk frameworks)
And, by the way, these are not mutually exclusive requirements – to the contrary, they have mutually compounding benefits.
Only when practitioners can clearly delineate
the different specialties and competencies within Change Management,
describe their benefits and understand their relationships
– only then are they are really prepared to deliver “Change Management” value.
So, while this does not require that our definitions be identical, I ask my colleagues to give more consideration to contextualizing what you do and relating it to what other specialists within the same space do, i.e. don’t sell just your capability. Please consider the breadth and depth of change management and build up the team to meet the client’s best interests.
If you are researching Change Management to deploy within large-scale strategic change, I’d be delighted to share more with you – you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
_ _ _ _
Faith and I both believe that Change Management is a critical component of successful business change. As such, and along with some others, we are committed to expanding the general understanding of Change Management and will be posting multiple articles on this topic over the next several months. Some articles will be collaboratively written, others written and posted individually.
We hope you will visit both our sites. To see Faith’s blog, follow this link.
If you want to know more about who we are, you can find us both on LinkedIn. You can also read more about Faith here and if you want to contact us, you can reach Faith here and me at email@example.com.
Why Social Media IS change
Social Creeper claims it is the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution (outstanding short video here). Skeptical? The video is compelling – consider these quotes:
- By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers
- 96% have joined a social network
- Social media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the web
- Years to reach 50 million users: radio 38 years, TV 13 years … Facebook 100 million users in 9 months!
- If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 4th largest
- 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices, people update anywhere anytime, imagine what that means for bad customer experiences
- 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content – do you like what they are saying about your brand
- Social media isn’t a fad, it is a fundamental change in the way we communicate
- 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations only 15% trust advertisements
Social media is challenging and changing:
- What its audience thinks and even how it thinks about what it thinks (think about that for a moment or two)
- The way consumers buy products and services – research, sourcing, reference checking, price comparison, etc
- The way businesses market to both B2C and B2B – must become engaging, listen and respond not broadcast
- The entire function of Public Relations – it is not possible to control or even shape what is broadcast or published. Must become AUTHENTIC, proactive and responsive
Social media is the Über-user group. For any software provider who once shivered going into a face-to-face Users’ Group, considered providing an online forum but “chickened out” – the genie is out of the bottle.
Building commitment – persuading users to adopt the new ‘gadget’
“How do you persuade people to disrupt their lives? You have to explain … not once or twice but three or four times … you have to convince them of the paradoxical fact that, disruptive as the gadget is, it’s not all that hard to use.” (1). Logical and desceptively difficult. What is brilliant in this story is the effectiveness – Gladwell is talking about is the sales pitch for the “Chop-O-Matic”.
Not relevant to business change? But wait this is a business that has very effectively developed and sold new products for generations. By Gladwell’s description the pitch is a highly structured communication (designed and road tested from invitation to ‘turn’ to ‘countdown’) to lead the audience from apathy to curiosity, not just to consumers but often to zealots.
There is much in this story that applies to communicating change in every organization – that applies to almost every change that we ask users to adopt whether it is a new system, say imaging records and all the benefits that come from that, or learning a software, say ERP, or even a new role. Yet, the rigor and discipline that has gone into the Chop-O-Matic pitch exceeds the communications that many organizations apply to much larger, riskier projects.
The key is to recognize the true short falls and costs of compliance-based change implementation (i.e. ‘we’ll tell them and they’ll do it) vs a proactive, customized and structured People Change Management track that expands on the relevant Chop-O-Matic protocols. Imagine if users would adopt the new ‘gadget’ with the same effectiveness as the audience buys the Chop-O-Matic.
Of course the ‘pitch’ is just one example of an effective communication format – and communication is just one component. After getting the audience to see and understand it, getting them to use it, regularly and properly, is the next challenge for most change programs – all the more reason to apply the same rigor throughout an integrated end-to-end approach.
(1) “What the Dog Saw”, Macolm Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2009.
New Year’s Resolutions 2010 – tips
January 1, 2010, 8:30 pm
Filed under: - People Change Management
, - Personal Reflections
, - Project Management
| Tags: Adoption
, Burning Platform
Jan 1st 2010. Toronto, Ontario. Wonderful. There is nothing like a blank slate at the beginning of the year. No mistakes, yet, to regret and 365 days of promise ahead.
New Year’s Resolutions are drafted, firming them up today.
Some excellent pragmatic tips from a UK coach here: “Set yourself EXACT 4P goals you will WANT to keep and achieve all you aspire to!” http://bit.ly/6xIaTv
And a perspective on leveraging the thin edge of the wedge here: ”Deviation…New Habit” Leading from the Future Blog – http://shar.es/a94HG
As an agent of change I continue to find it fascinating why we do, and don’t do, all the things we do, and don’t do.
Onward and upward in 2010. Wishing you success and happiness.
New Year’s Resolutions – to change? why? do they stick?
Dec 29, Toronto, Ontario: For the past several years I have challenged myself with New Year’s Resolutions. True, this game is not for everyone. Currently I am running a poll on my LinkedIn – granted not a representative sample group and the number of respondents is not representative either – but this is really intended as experimental amusement, not science. Have a look, here: http://polls.linkedin.com/p/71161/wfern and go ahead, vote. It’s anonymous and no one will get hurt.
The question is “Do you make New Year’s resolutions to change your behavior?” Of course that opens up a world of follow-on questions for which this may become the forum … ? What kinds of resolutions? Do you write them down? Do you think about them after January? Is it a positive leading approach or a guilty push?
Surely the notion of a blank slate is intoxicating – a year ahead where anything can happen – a year of potential for miracles big and small. On the small side, is the promise that I can find more work / life balance, lose a little weight and maybe even make a little difference in this huge world.
Curious to how others, from different walks of life, perceive the new year … can we change the trajectory of our lives? Of the lives of those around us, near or far?
Is a personal promise compelling? Effective? Do we benefit from accountability – from telling others? from having others tell us?
I will be mulling this over during the next couple of days and will update this blog post. Do you have comments? Come on and play along – tell us what YOU think about New Year’s Resolutions.
Looking for some inspiration? One of my colleagues on LinkedIn was ahead of me and has written and published her ‘Christmas Wishes’ here http://synergetic-solutions.com/my-wishes/ – thanks for sharing Faith. Me, I need accountability … more on that later.