Changing face of CHANGE

Probably the most talked about topic in corporate world this decade is “Change”. Whether it is big data, culture or M&A, Change remains at the heart of everything.

Working with multiple clients across industries and geographies, we have seen some real best practices and some failures, which are true learning for any student of Change management. If we look at some of the theories, models and philosophies on change and what they have become today, it is alarming. Organizations will tend to fall far behind if they do not follow the changing face of CHANGE.

Few Myths and Reality

Change starts at top. While we cannot deny it in principle, I am seeing more and more examples of Change starting with people in the organization, pushing leadership to make that change. Remember how many of your employers till recently did not allow Social Media on your work PC ? It was not the leaders but people who pushed this change. Recently I wrote an article on Change bottom up discussing how employees are influencing change in the organization more than even before. Top management has become a facilitator therefore.

Change should not begin until all questions are answered. I wish we had that luxury. During last 12 months most Oil & Gas companies have continuously made changes to its organization structure, organization design, going through M&A without having answer to most basic question of Oil price assumption. Eric Ries in his book Lean Startup wrote about the new age Entrepreneur who is constantly working through uncertainties.

Dealing with ambiguity is the most important competency of this decade

Plan a robust change management program. Mistakes people make is to create a robust program caste in stone. I have seen multiple report outs and steering committee meetings where the program manager is only busy defending, instead of listening to feedback. However, things change, so does requirement for program and structure. In todays world, need is for speed and agility much more than a robust and rigid program.

Get your change management team in place. Yes we all want that. A team in place is the best thing to happen to start with. But lets get real. How many times do we have that luxury in today’s world ? I was fortunate to write job description for 3 different roles I did during my corporate life. Each time I ended up creating the scope as well as justification for headcount and I got only shared part time resources to take forward my initiatives in the beginning. This is today’s reality. I would accept it and rather work with this part time team, get them engaged and move forward instead of not getting started at all. When your leaders see success, they will throw all resources at you.

Getting headcount for all your initiatives upfront is a luxury. Leaders now look for proof of concept and throw all resources behind you if they smell success.

Watch out for resistance. Yes do watch out for resistance. But don’t eliminate resistance or kill that debate. If there is no resistance something is obviously wrong. More importantly, resistance can bring in a healthy dialogue which provides a different perspective we never thought about. People are much more vocal these days and can help a lot when resistance is voiced out.

Use regular progress meetings. One of the best practice I saw recently was a team smartly using intranet and social media. Something similar to our challengera tool. Program manager sends out weekly updates on internal social media inviting discussions online, use multiple one on one and other offline discussions to resolve issues and have monthly steering committee which is more of a celebration than a review. The entire team felt this was much more effective than a large group meeting where nothing gets accomplished. Each organization is different but reducing time from meetings and giving it back to productive work is always a good idea.

Each organization is different. Customize your Change management solution depending on what works for you. Think of People, Process & Culture

Yes, organizations are changing, cultures are evolving and so is the way we manage change. I would love to hear some of the best practices you have seen.

About the Author

Karunesh is Founder and CEO of Change Et Al. Karunesh works with a range of companies helping transform businesses, driving change initiatives, M&A and HR transformation. Karunesh is also a trainer, facilitator, coach and speaker. Change Et Al. team consists of HR, Lean Six Sigma, Technology, Communication and M&A experts spread across India, SEA, Middle East and the firm is headquartered in Singapore. Karunesh is also a coach and trainer for Lean Startup and works with many corporates helping them apply Lean Startup for culture and business transformation.