Managing change to make it stick.


Getting people to do new work and change needs skill. In business and especially large enterprises change takes more than skill. It also needs good teaming with binding cross functional management dialog processes.

Getting objectives clear from the top can be tricky, but the hard job comes getting buy-in and finding a way to align people to change and keep them there. Both are critical steps.

Then as things proceeds you need a good leader to manage the roadblocks and keep it on track. Having a champion is vital too but even champions can falter as threats emerge and cloud the issues and as luddites undermine.

It is said that people change so organizations get the value or benefit. It is not the reverse as many think. So getting commitment is vital to ensure stakeholders can see a win. With nothing to gain or lose for the people effected, change projects will inevitably fail.

When change is needed, bad habits are the most difficult to break even when obvious to all. Operations people will always do operations work first and in the way that works for them even though they may appear supportive of change. The reality is, if they don’t have something at stake to get them involved when it comes to show time, they will be busy.

In our organizations we often find a popular fountain of knowledge where we can get all the answers. This is usually sees one or two people in so called indispensible jobs who are like gold in the business. But unfortunately when it comes to change if they are not managed well they may become dinosaurs and actually hold progress back. Identify them is important. Dinosaurs, friendly or not, become intent and divisive to survive. Taking them out of their operational job and placing them in a important roles as subject matter experts in a change project is often a good strategy. If they join the team and focus well you are likely to have a great outcomes all round.

At the organizational level to be successful you must find a way to engage and make change a continuous process. Selling is such a process that does that and works well when people buy. So when embarking on change we must consider selling and communications as a key ongoing part of projects.

Here is a useful perspective from

Individual change management

Organizations don’t change, individuals do. No matter how large of a project you are taking on, the success of that project ultimately lies with each employee doing their work differently, multiplied across all of the employees impacted by the change. Effective change management requires an understanding for and appreciation of how one person makes a change successfully. Without an individual perspective, we are left with activities but no idea of the goal or outcome that we are trying to achieve.

Organizational change management

While change happens one person at a time, there are processes and tools that can be used to facilitate this change. Tools like communication and training are often the only activities when no structured approach is applied. When there is an organizational change management perspective, a process emerges for how to scale change management activities and how to use the complete set of tools available for project leaders and business managers.

This next graphic illustrates some linkages of organization process with individual behavioral aspects important for change .

imageSubstring activity aside, delivering or selling change to others and/or responding to change forced on us by market competitiveness is at the very heart of what management and markets are all about. Making it all work requires attention to all these areas and more.

What drives a change is often a need to be able to respond faster to market pressure or simply grow the sales to achieve a stated business ambition.  Hence aging core systems and processes may first need replacing to allow ongoing improvement. As stagnant systems fast reach their used by date, resistance to change is often the highest, as people hang on to their comfort zones.

Like selling, long cycles are not good and invariably fail. And to a salesman, getting and maintaining total commitment with no way back, is the first and last step to shore up against risk to ensure a success. In change projects it is the same so work is best competed in small stages so success can be declared and continuous improvement resumed quickly.

But its not done there. To make it stick you then need the added energy to exploit the value in the new state with the old state now completely gone.



Here is a video we did for internal discussion:

4 thoughts on “Managing change to make it stick.

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