Monday, January 19, 2015

Does Change Always happen with the support of Top Management

The change happens when changing is easier than maintaining the status quo.

Change is the digital new normal, however, more than two-thirds of change management initiatives fail to achieve the expected result. What are the success factors of change, or the failure cause of Change Management? Does change always happen with the support of top management?

Change starts with a "sense of urgency" which can only come from top management: The commitment of top management is very important for any change to be successful. A good idea or culture cannot be developed by persons at the bottom or middle if it is not supported by the Top Management. Change can come from motivated, driven individuals who refuse to allow the people at the top to hold them back. But, it takes considerable determination and internal drive knowing that you may not be rewarded (and may even be penalized) for going against the grain.

Change Management in Top Management:
More often, you require Top Management to support for Change Management. But more importantly, you require Change Management in Top Management itself. Sometimes, their beliefs and management through the process itself become a barrier for Change Management. Some say the most you can hope for from top management is indifference. In other words, why do they give up so much power to management when trying to bring about change within their organizations? Yes, it is much more difficult when "They" are not supportive. But, can you find ways to create, encourage, cultivate, etc. change that begins elsewhere and then enrolls senior management in it? It's the tough call to communicate and bring change Management in Top. But it's required badly sometimes because radical change or transformation has to start from TOP.

The support of top management is necessary, but not sufficient: Change always happens with the support of Top Management, but the support of Top Management is not sufficient. There are so many change efforts fail even though they had top management fully behind them. The problem is that the leadership gets really into the change but fails to bring others along. So, support from Top Management, while important, is not an absolute predictor of success. There is a big difference between 'total buy-in' and 'support.' Total buy-in involves top management being able to fully articulate the change, as well as their ability to provide all necessary support where and when it is required. Support, on the other hand, can merely be an 'executive announcement,' attendance to change forum meetings without bringing any input, providing the budget without a full appreciation of Return on Capital employed. Hence, more crucially, change management needs more management buy-in and that can be achieved through a concise leadership roadmap that is aligned with the project plan. Top Management must not devolve the entire change project to middle managers or consultants. They must be fully involved to ensure buy-in and commitment on the lower levels.

The change happens when changing is easier than maintaining the status quo and, more importantly, when people no longer feel threatened by it. The support and buy-in of top management are critical for change effort, especially for the radical digital transformation, and more fundamentally, it takes leadership mind shift.


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