Notes on Change Management

One of the best course, if not the best, was the one about Change Management.
A great deal of transverse knowledge coupled with change management theory can lead to success.
Soft skills are however key. Understanding the forces in presence and what are the particular worry of each stakeholder is indeed crucial for success. But there is also a method to avoid this:

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(pic from – click it)

In this post, only one space of change management is dealt with. When we were in class, everyone could relate to the above picture, in a way or another. Why is it so complex to bring everyone from point A to point B? Simply because, the direct line between those tow points is not the most efficient path. Look at the basic 8 steps Kotter model below and think about the last changes you went through as a leader or the ones your company is going through… and if you smile as you read, don’t worry, we all did!

1. Establish a sense of urgency

Help others feel a gut-level determination to move and win.
In their rush to make a plan and take action, most companies ignore this step — indeed close to 50% of the companies that fail to make needed change make their mistakes at the very beginning. Leaders may underestimate how hard it is to drive people out of their comfort zones, or overestimate how successfully they have already done so, or simply lack the patience necessary to develop appropriate urgency.

2. Create a guiding coalition

Putting together a group with enough power to lead the change.
No one person, no matter how competent, is capable of single-handedly:
– developing the right vision,
– communicating it to vast numbers of people,
– eliminating all of the key obstacles,
– generating short term wins,
– leading and managing dozens of change projects, and
– anchoring new approaches deep in an organization’s culture.
Putting together the right coalition of people to lead a change initiative is critical to its success. That coalition must have the right composition, a significant level of trust, and a shared objective.

3. Develop a change vision and strategy

– Creating a vision to help direct the change effort
– Developing strategies to achieve that vision

Such visions must be seen as strategically feasible. To be effective, a vision must take into account the current realities of the enterprise, but also set forth goals that are truly ambitious. Great leaders know how to make these ambitious goals look doable.

4. Communicate the change vision

Most companies undercommunciate their visions by at least a factor of 10. A single memo announcing the transformation or even a series of speeches by the CEO and the executive team are never enough. To be effective, the vision must be communicated in hour-by-hour activities. The vision will be referred to in emails, in meetings, in presentations – it will be communicated anywhere and everywhere.
In communicating the vision for the transformation, there are some things to keep in mind. The vision should be:
– Simple: No techno babble or jargon.
– Vivid: A verbal picture is worth a thousand words – use metaphor, analogy, and example.
– Repeatable: Ideas should be able to be spread by anyone to anyone.
– Invitational: Two-way communication is always more powerful than one-way communication.

5. Empower employees (broad-based action) to act on the vision

Removing as many barriers as possible and unleashing people to do their best work. (Structural Barriers, Troublesome Supervisors).

6. Generate short-­term wins

Creating visible, unambiguous success as soon as possible.
For leaders in the middle of a long-term change effort, short-term wins are essential. Running a change effort without attention to short-term performance is extremely risky. The Guiding Coalition becomes a critical force in identifying significant improvements that can happen between six and 18 months. Getting these wins helps ensure the overall change initiative’s success. Research shows that companies that experience significant short-term wins by fourteen and twenty-six months after the change initiative begins are much more likely to complete the transformation.

7. Never letting up! (Consolidate improvements and sustain momentum for change)

Resistance is always waiting in the wings to re-assert itself. Even if you are successful in the early stages, you may just drive resistors underground where they wait for an opportunity to emerge when you least expect it. They may celebrate with you and then suggest taking a break to savor the victory.
The consequences of letting up can be very dangerous. Whenever you let up before the job is done, critical momentum can be lost and regression may soon follow. The new behaviors and practices must be driven into the culture to ensure long-term success. Once regression begins, rebuilding momentum is a daunting task.
In a successful major change initiative, by step 7 you will begin to see:
– More projects being added
– Additional people being brought in to help with the changes
– Senior leadership focused on giving clarity to an aligned vision and shared purpose
– Employees empowered at all levels to lead projects
– Reduced interdependencies between areas
– Constant effort to keep urgency high
– Consistent show of proof that the new way is working.

8. Anchor new approaches in the culture

New practices must grow deep roots in order to remain firmly planted in the culture. Culture is composed of norms of behavior and shared values. These social forces are incredibly strong. Every individual that joins an organization is indoctrinated into its culture, generally without even realizing it. Its inertia is maintained by the collective group of employees over years and years. Changes – whether consistent or inconsistent with the old culture – are difficult to ingrain.
This is why cultural change comes in Step 8, not Step 1. Some general rules about cultural change include:
– Cultural change comes last, not first
– You must be able to prove that the new way is superior to the old
– The success must be visible and well communicated
– You will lose some people in the process
– You must reinforce new norms and values with incentives and rewards – including promotions
– Reinforce the culture with every new employee

Take aways:

  • Change is often under estimated and HAS to go through different steps
  • Change takes time… Inevitable! Speeding up or skipping steps will only create an illusion of a rapid change, but watch out for the boomerang
  • The boomerang, if any, WILL BE devastating for your change
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