Change Management

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Noun: Change Management
  1. the management of change and development within a business or similar organisation.
  2. the controlled identification and implementation of required changes within a system.

Whenever an organisation imposes new things on people there will be difficulties. Participation, involvement and open, early, full communication are the important factors.

You cannot impose change – people and teams need to be empowered to find their own solutions and responses, with facilitation and support from managers, and tolerance and compassion from the leaders and executives. Management and leadership style and behaviour are more important than clever process and policy. Employees need to be able to trust the organisation and its people!

The leader must agree and work with these ideas, or change is likely to be very painful, and the best people will be lost in the process.

Change Management Principles

  • At all times involve and agree support from people within system (system = environment, processes, culture, relationships, behaviours, etc., whether personal or organisational);
  • Understand where you/the organisation is at the moment (As is);
  • Understand where you want to be, when, why, and what the measures will be for having got there (To be);
  • Plan development towards the ‘To be’ in appropriate achievable measurable stages; and
  • Communicate, involve, enable and facilitate involvement from people, as early and openly and as fully as is possible.


Change Methodologies

In short, there are many!

John P Kotter’s ‘eight steps to successful change’

American John P Kotter (b 1947) is a Harvard Business School professor and leading thinker and author on organisational change management. Kotter’s highly regarded books ‘Leading Change’ (1995) and the follow-up ‘The Heart Of Change’ (2002) describe a helpful model for understanding and managing change. Each stage acknowledges a key principle identified by Kotter relating to people’s response and approach to change, in which people see, feel and then change.

Kotter’s eight step change model can be summarised as:

  1. Increase urgency – inspire people to move, make objectives real and relevant.
  2. Build the guiding team – get the right people in place with the right emotional commitment, and the right mix of skills and levels.
  3. Get the vision right – get the team to establish a simple vision and strategy, focus on emotional and creative aspects necessary to drive service and efficiency.
  4. Communicate for buy-in – involve as many people as possible, communicate the essentials, simply, and to appeal and respond to people’s needs. De-clutter communications – make technology work for you rather than against.
  5. Empower action – remove obstacles, enable constructive feedback and lots of support from leaders – reward and recognise progress and achievements.
  6. Create short-term wins – set aims that are easy to achieve – in bite-size chunks. Manageable numbers of initiatives. Finish current stages before starting new ones.
  7. Don’t let up – foster and encourage determination and persistence – ongoing change – encourage ongoing progress reporting – highlight achieved and future milestones.
  8. Make change stick – reinforce the value of successful change via recruitment, promotion, new change leaders. Weave change into culture. Communicate the benefits of the change.


Nudge Theory

Nudge theory is a flexible and modern concept for:

  • understanding of how people think, make decisions, and behave,
  • helping people improve their thinking and decisions,
  • managing change of all sorts, and
  • identifying and modifying existing unhelpful influences on people.


Nudge theory was named and popularized by the 2008 book, ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’, written by American academics Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein.

The book is based strongly on the Nobel prize-winning work of the Israeli-American psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. For a much more complete run down on Nudge Theory, please see HERE.


Business Development Driven Change

Business development potentially includes everything involved with the quality of the business or the organisation. Business development planning first requires establishing the business development aims, and then formulating a business development strategy, which would comprise some or all of the following methods of development:

  • sales development;
  • new product development;
  • new market development;
  • business organisation, shape, structure and processes development (eg, outsourcing, e-business, etc);
  • tools, equipment, plant, logistics and supply-chain development;
  • people, management and communications (capabilities and training) development;
  • strategic partnerships and distribution routes development;
  • international development; and
  • acquisitions and disposals.

Generally business development is partly scientific, and partly subjective, based on the feelings and wishes of the business owners or CEO. There are so many ways to develop a business which achieve growth and improvement, and rarely is just one of these a single best solution. Business development is what some people call a ‘black art’, ie., difficult to analyse, and difficult to apply a process that can be standardised and replicated.


Fast Changing Environments

Planning, implementing and managing change in a fast-changing environment is increasingly the situation in which most organisations now work.

Dynamic environments such as these require dynamic processes, people, systems and culture, especially for managing change successfully, notably effectively optimising organisational response to market opportunities and threats.

Key elements for success:

  • Plan long-term broadly – a sound strategic vision, not a specific detailed plan (the latter is impossible to predict reliably). Detailed five years plans are out of date two weeks after they are written. Focus on detail for establishing and measuring delivery of immediate actions, not medium-to-long-term plans.
  • Establish forums and communicating methods to enable immediate review and decision-making. Participation of interested people is essential. This enables their input to be gained, their approval and commitment to be secured, and automatically takes care of communicating the actions and expectations.
  • Empower people to make decisions at a local operating level – delegate responsibility and power as much as possible (or at least encourage people to make recommendations which can be quickly approved).
  • Remove (as far as is possible) from strategic change and approval processes and teams (or circumvent) any ultra-cautious, ultra-autocratic or compulsively-interfering executives. Autocracy and interference are the biggest obstacles to establishing a successful and sustainable dynamic culture and capability.
  • Encourage, enable and develop capable people to be active in other areas of the organization via ‘virtual teams’ and ‘matrix management’.
  • Scrutinise and optimise ICT (information and communications technology) systems to enable effective information management and key activity team-working.
  • Use workshops as a vehicle to review priorities, agree broad medium-to-long-term vision and aims, and to agree short-term action plans and implementation method and accountabilities.
  • Adjust recruitment, training and development to accelerate the development of people who contribute positively to a culture of empowered dynamism.
  • Use Nudge theory – to understand potential hidden influential factors on people’s thinking.


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