Friday, May 3, 2013

Why is Successful Change so Difficult?

An understanding of organizational dynamics is critical to bring about change. 

The phrase "The only constant changes" refers to the obvious fact that we see all around us which is that things are constantly changing. The pace of change is accelerated in every vertical sector, and even every corner of the world, however, 70% of change management projects failed, why change, or more precisely, successful change is so difficult?

1.  Why is Change so Difficult?

Change becomes fundamentally difficult in most organizations because it is treated as something distinct from running the business, evolving performance, and increasing results over time. Leaders and employees are stressed enough in getting done what is right in front of them that change is layered upon becomes disruptive.

  • Resistance to change is part of human nature. For many people, "sameness" is psychological security. Change leads to psychological insecurity. Most people like security. Even though it is difficult to change human nature, there is still value in understanding that resistance is normal and must be considered/managed. 
  • Leaders do not set a good example to be change agents. Even the people who are advocating change are resistant to change. It is common for people to propose changes that impact others while exempting themselves. This type of approach is guaranteed to be resisted. 
  • Culture Inertia: Change is about shaping the new culture, which is collective human habits of organization: Corporate culture can have its own personality, and uncovering the fears and desires of that personality can be very important in discovering where the resistance is coming from. Resistance to change can be a form of self-defense that comes from fear. Whether it's in a corporate sense, or with individuals, understanding what motivates a personality is a key to understanding how to keep them moving ahead. 
  • Emotional Attachment: Every change, even for something wonderful and new, it means the removal of something old and loved (even if that is old and loved is "nothing" as in many revolutionary or discontinuous inventions). People are emotionally attached to those things being possessed. So, it stands to reason that humans would react similarly to changes such as new processes and organizational structures with the Kubler-Ross grieving process (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). 

2.   How to Get People Buy-In for the Changes

What motivates people who like to change?" The same question could be asked of those who don't like change. The immune system of the dimensions of change - people, culture, behavior, and organization could be influenced by hooking into the history, opening the eyes on the bad experiences, and realistically defining and communicating the need for a change. With a thorough understanding, people learn to adapt over a period of transformation slowly and steadily.

  • People Buyer-In: People really don't like change and want familiar things. To make a change strategy effective, you need to help people see 'what's in it for them' to facilitate real change. Commitment is on the other side, simply put, you need 'buy-in'! People are creatures of habit and change is stressful. Even with buy-in, it is difficult for them to change habits and routines. Many executives believe they can accomplish change by simply mandating the change, but it is not that simple. 
  • Understand the Types of Resistance: Resistance can be a form of self-defense designed to keep one from further stress. Hanna's model breaks resistance down into precursors that one must face like " the willingness of an individual to overcome anxiety" to deal with change. through resistance assessment, you have an informal idea of the degree to which resistance is present. If you understand the types of resistance, then a plan can be developed to help people through. 
  • Convey the Value about Change: "what common factors drive an individual": As every organization consists of a majority of the reluctant people, HABIT, VALUES & INCENTIVE (in terms of benefits or reward or growth) are the common factors, which drives an individual. Considering putting yourself under the pressure of deviating from age-old habits due to a "Change Regime.” The first question that comes to mind is perhaps "what values in it ? " or "What is the ROI of my extra effort ??" or "what benefit it carries ??" Even though concerns are addressed properly, still a portion of reluctance will remain until you realize or feel the benefit of the change. 
  • An individual's attitudes and beliefs are all valid within the context of his or her personal experience: Taking people through new experiences, exposing them to additional "data" through those experiences, and doing that very purposefully will create the opportunity to shift attitudes, beliefs, mindsets that ultimately will change their behavior in a lasting manner. The art comes in ensuring energies are put forth to create sufficient critical mass, but not necessarily 100% full commitment to all people. Understand the following psychological models as well:

1) Change in people has the same impact just in varying degrees, producing some degree of anxiety
2) People need time to assimilate change and work through the issues that result from the change, moving from the emotional to the rational
3) Resistance can take the form of “this won’t work” or “this is too much stress”
4) Time serves a beneficial role in aiding people in adjusting to change
5) Helping people talk about change and giving them tools to deal with the problems of change promotes self-efficacy
6) Social support is important and peer support needs to be available
7) Some people will never adjust and not all resistance can be resolved
8) We can only control our own responses and cannot control the responses of others so let the process play out and deal with issues as they develop                                                  
9) Understand what basic approach is being utilized: Logic, power, structure, or mixture of approaches.

3.  How to Plan & Practice Change Management Right?

There are many change models and approaches around. It is human nature to develop heuristics and 'best practices' since we are pattern seekers and habit formers. However, most of them were created in the industrial era, lack of effective technology to support implementation.  Change is chaotic, but change management needs to be well designed and practiced systematically. And now, social and enterprise collaboration tools provide an effective & interesting digital platform to make change more tangible and measurable. 

  • There are five stages before the change is reached: Pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance. Walking people through the process of resistance is key. The change should be based on planning strategy; there is long-term mythology for big changes & short term mythology. Planning is a good way to achieve change if the planning effort is integrated with normal management processes. The change objectives must be well defined, understood, and accepted through planning
  • An understanding of organizational dynamics is critical to bring about change. Change management must go beyond stakeholder analysis, dealing with resistance, communication, and begin with a deep understanding of the current and desired future state. Then the question is what people and the organization must be capable of at each iteration of moving forward. The work of change becomes about building those capabilities by impacting systems/processes, people, and culture in a sequence of manner that shifts mindsets, skills, and behaviors. The effective approaches need to integrate the fundamentals of change management, strategy, talent management, individual and organizational learning, socio-technical systems analysis, and organizational capability development. Knowing how people and organizations learn, grow and evolve is the thread that connects all of these domains
  • More change questions that can be pondered  in order to frame change management and take competent change management initiatives
    1) always understand the audience requirements/impacts before any change is relayed/discussed considering the organizational goals
    2)  have a dedicated champion for propagating the change subject well in advance at the senior level
    3) gather formal/informal response through various tools and mechanism
    4)  fine-tune the change, if required, and update the concerned after considering the feedback into consideration as applicable without much dilution to the organization's needs.
    5)  update stakeholders on non-implement-able ideas, suggestions with appropriate rationale
    6) transparent all activities relating to change initiative, take advantage of the latest technology tools for communication, the practice of change
    7) find out the reason for the members who are not in favor of the change and understand how much of these groups voice goes with the other members of the organization.                                
Change cannot be just another thing that needs to be accomplished. It has to be woven into actions, processes, and communications of the organization. In today's work environment. It takes a lot of energy to break habits and outdated thought processes, but change is happening at a more rapid pace. If you make a change part of your routine, then change becomes easier to deal with. People are already doing a lot more with less and if the change is just added to the workload, it will fail in the long run. If change is to truly take hold and be successful, management must embrace it. They must work closely with their team to keep the already heavy workloads balanced.


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