Many years ago, I came across a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal. It read, “Change imposed is change opposed.” A consulting firm that was promoting its change management practice had placed the ad. It held my attention for a long time. I had been familiar for years with the adage “People support what they help to create.” I’d quoted it many times and thought it conveyed what people leading change needed to know about the essence of change management.
However, this new statement conveyed the idea more directly - even bluntly. It caused me to think about how most organizations go about managing change and it caused me to wonder the following all the more.
If imposing change provokes opposition and people do in fact support what they help to create, then why do we continue to manage change in ways that do not truly engage people and do not foster conditions where “meaningful engagement” can occur commonly? Why do we continue to settle for “buy-in” when we want and need so much more? Continue reading →
Since man began to sail the open seas, sailors have used a very simple device to determine how to take maximum advantage of the wind. Pieces of ribbon or yarn attached to the main mast and to the sides of the jib tell a sailor when the wind is up and how to trim the sails to use the wind effectively to make the best headway. These pieces of ribbon or yarn (three red strips in the photo below) are called a telltale and telltales are one of a sailor’s best friends.
When it comes to making headway in organization change, leaders, managers, and change practitioners also have a telltale. It’s called resistance. However, resistance is rarely regarded as anyone’s best friend. To the contrary, resistance is usually regarded as something to be “overcome,” “managed,” “mitigated,” “confronted,” or otherwise vanquished.
What if we reframed resistance and approached it differently?
Continue reading →
Effective change doesn’t happen by accident. It is the result of careful planning and thoughtful execution. Leaders play a pivotal role in change because they possess legitimate power to sanction the change, establish the vision, provide direction and resources, and hold organizational members accountable. Everyone looks to the leader for guidance and that person must model the way for the rest of the organization.
Change would be a much tidier process if that were all it took – an effective leader who knows what to do and how to do it and is at the front leading the charge.
But as important as the leader’s role is, it isn’t the leader who ultimately executes change. Change (from simple to complex) is always a matter of people in impacted areas making the transition from the way things are now to the way they’re supposed to be in the future.
Transition at the people level involves, among other things:
- Answering their questions about why and what it will mean for them
- Describing how things will be in the future
- Helping them understand whether or not they will be in that future
- Involving them to co-create that future
- Providing a credible plan for moving forward that speaks to them at their level
- Communicating frequently and reliably about what’s happening now and what will happen next
- Learning new skills and applying new knowledge
- Becoming part of a new work group
How does this all get done? Who is leading the charge on this? More to the point, who should be leading the charge on this? Continue reading →
This is the third of four posts exploring the possibility of change management as an unconscious competence. In the first post (What If Change Management Were An Unconscious Competence? ), I presented the four stages of competence model and used it as a lens to consider the state of organizational change management ability. I observed that Stage Four organizations – ones where change management has evolved to the level of an unconscious competence – are rare but do exist.
In the second post (Change Management Evolved), I explored what we would see if we were to encounter a Stage Four organization. In this post, I will present what I believe it takes to develop Stage Four competency.
Like any form of superior human achievement, reaching Stage Four requires effort and discipline. Superior achievement doesn’t happen by chance. Additionally, however, in an organizational setting where many people in different units are involved, there are other elements that must be added to effort and discipline to complete the formula. I have identified six such elements that help to make Stage Four attainable. Continue reading →
This is the second of four posts exploring the possibility of change management as an unconscious competence. In the first post (What If Change Management Were An Unconscious Competence?), I presented the four stages of competence model and used it as a lens to consider the state of organizational change management ability. I observed that, in my experience, Stage Four organizations – ones where change management has evolved to the level of an unconscious competence – are uncommon but do exist. These are organizations that have purposefully committed the time, resources, and effort to establish a cultural context that enables change management competency at this level.
Let’s push the exploration further. If you or I were to encounter a Stage Four organization – one where change management is a highly evolved competency – what would we learn and see? Continue reading →