Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Three big “WHEN”s in Change Management

The big WHEN about change is not just a particular moment, but a thought-out planning with clear defined timelines.

Corporate change can be a simple modification of strategy, a business process improvement or a more radical digital transformation. Either at the individual or organizational level, change is perhaps a one-time project in the static industrial era; but change has to become an ongoing capability at dynamic digital age. Besides three big “WHY” about changes, three big “WHAT”s about changes, three big “HOW” about Change Management, here is the further question - WHEN should you make change happen - there is the time to sow, and the time to reap - How to manage change cycle more effectively?

Make sure there is dissatisfaction with the current situation: The people that make up the organization must see a compelling need to change from risky practices, obsolete ideas, processes and do so proactively before issues materialize. It also helps when people believe things will improve by changing, innovating, upgrading, etc. Is there a burning platform or a burning ambition (or both) that compels your business to become much faster, better and mature at delivering change? Change Management is how you catalyze employee adoption and usage of change to capture the portion of benefits that depend on people changing how they do their jobs. Being clear on the strategic imperative to change is important (alongside the 'what's in it for me).

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. However, the degree of explicit control that management exerts, or can exert on the individuals is limited, you can control people's behaviors, but you can't manipulate how they think. To get cooperation and not cause problems, you need to find a way to show people that the changes being made are really in their best interests and will make their jobs easier. 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. Thus, the good moment to change is when the top senses the urgency and the bottom feel the pain, and change inertia is minimized via common understanding about the necessity and imperatives of changes. The change platform approach focuses more on establishing the right enduring organizational values and capabilities to enable continuous improvement; to be embraced by everyone in the lunchroom, sponsored and believed in by the boardroom. Only then are you in a position to consider what learning and development might be appropriate. Do a root cause analysis of the current state to find out how all those gaps you see came about. Genuine buy-in is ever so critical to any change.

Change is inevitable WHEN “culture starts eating strategy for breakfast”: Change is not for its own sake, focus on the business purpose behind it. Often culture is the very reason for the change, also an important factor to lead change success. The right culture is a prerequisite foundation for implementing the strategy. Culture precedes strategy. When strategy management gets stagnant due to culture inertia, it is the right timing to change. Weak cultures rely on a bureaucracy to enforce rules and regulations that undermine an organization's speed, simplicity, and competitiveness. An organization's cultural orientation forms the basis for initiating and improving on strategies and sustaining it. A strong culture should have the characteristics of inclusiveness, innovation, learning agile, etc. A too weak culture affects the ability to walk in one direction and fill in the gaps when formal artifacts - such as strategy, processes and org charts - are not good enough.

Change Management is a journey, not just a one-time project, it means the big WHEN about change is not just a particular moment, but a thought-out planning with clear defined timelines, to identify crisis point, decision point, tipping point, and inflection point of changes, riding ahead of the change curve takes strategy and methodology, people are the weakest link, also the best reason for any changes, so make people as your CORE focal point.


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