Friday, October 13, 2017

Manage Change as Continuum not Conundrum

Business will be more successful when they realize that one of their greatest strengths will be their change capability.

Digital disruptions are inevitable, and digital transformation is unstoppable. Nowadays, change happens nonlinearly with increasing pace. Organizations shouldn’t just respond to them in a reactive way or perceive change as a conundrum. The successful businesses are the ones that can manage change fluently in a structural way, they have learned WHY to change, WHEN change is called for, decide WHAT to change, WHO are change agents, WHEN to change, and HOW to change effectively, manage change not just as linear steps, but an iterative continuum and build change as the differentiated business capability.

Mindshift is one of the most challenging parts of Change Management: Change is difficult because it is not just about some hard processes to follow, but there are a lot of soft touches. There are full emotion cycles behind changes, and it is the mixed bag of positive emotions and negative emotions. The positive emotions include the openness to new ideas and perspective, the optimism for things getting better, the passion to discover, or the empathy to understand the psychology behind changes., etc. The negative emotions include resistance to change, fear, doubt, change inertia, etc.  Some say change is not a problem, the primary reason for change failure is resistance to change while the second reason is the inability of leaders to deal with resistance. Change is the journey, not just a destination. Managing change as a continuum means that it is not sufficient to just change people’s attitude or control their behaviors manually because you can’t manipulate how they think. But if you can’t change their mindset, the change result won’t be sustainable, and the old habit will come back soon. Thus, mind-shift is one of the most challenging parts of Change Management. The fixed or rigid mind usually won’t allow a person to think beyond a point. These mindsets can be described as defensive, resist or reject anything that affects cozy comfort zone. But radical change needs to deprogram old mindsets, let go of “the voices from the past,” reprogram people's minds with new thinking, norms, and attitudes; and establish a new blueprint for how you want to create the digital future reality via change continuum.

A sense of urgency: At today’s dynamic digital new normal, high responsiveness and change now become an important factor for running a leading digital organization.  Change Management is all about balancing the following main elements impacting change such as people, strategy, process and IT. Change starts with a "sense of urgency" which can only come from top management. Top management should be able to capture the signal for changes now. 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. How can you spot the right TIMING for changes? When the blind spots deaccelerate your business transformation, it is the time to change, to clear the path, whether that be the elimination of obstacles, closing the blind spots, or to provide guidance. There is also the signal for change NOW if people, especially management only keeps hands full, but lack prioritization and Time Management skills to brainstorming strategy and drive strategy implementation. Change occurs at the level of the individual and it is only when the management has a sense of urgency, the majority of people are on the journey that the real results start to emerge.

“End-to-end” performance of Change Management: Change Management shouldn’t be a conundrum, to make change sustain, the important thing is "end-to-end" performance. In today's work environment, change indeed is difficult to measure unless all parties involved in the change take ownership of the change and see why and what the change is about. Change impact analysis and business readiness are two key processes that need to conduct to give a person a glimpse of what to measure. To manage end-to-end change performance, it requires the necessity to be brutally honest and to establish clear, understandable and easily calculable metrics. Thue, the metrics need to be SMART so people can see what the outcome will look like throughout their transition, including both a series of in-process measures and a set of final, desired outcome. There should be a consideration for a balanced scorecard that measures the progress you want to achieve during the change transition, this keeps people focused. Measuring change involves first accurately identifying where you are now. Then, clearly identifying where you want to be once the change is complete. If at some intermediate stage, change management measures something that is not congruent with the final outcome, then dysfunctional behavior arises, potentially diminishing the end-to-end change performance. To make change sustain, it is important to manage end-to-end performance, measures will be the appropriate ones.

Business will be more successful when they realize that one of their greatest strengths will be their change capability. In practice, a highly changeable organization is the company that can quickly and safely assess all of the consequences of a possible change and devise effective plans to provide a combination approach for having both a sense of urgency and overcoming change curves, to achieve and sustain changes - and to do them continuously.


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