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Change Management Toolbook

What to do when the business has not bought into the change management concept

The Scenario

The large manufacturing company is installing new factory control systems. You are the appointed change manager, but very few people in the business (except the project sponsor) seem to “get” the fact that change management is important. In fact, most seem to be downright irritated by you and your role, regarding any time spent on change management as a waste. Some senior business leaders even openly criticise what you want to do as “smoke and mirrors” or “airy fairy nonsense”.

You have reached the point where the resistance to change management almost seems greater than any potential resistance to the new systems that are being installed.

Do
  • Look at your own approach and the language that you have been using critically – have you gone to where your clients are and started from there, or have you expected them to come to you?
  • Stick to doing “what’s right” – a professional engineer will not sign off on a structure that may fail, nor should you lose your integrity.
Don’t
  • Lose faith in the process – change management DOES add real value.
  • Just plough on regardless – the evidence suggests that you will not succeed without a critical mass of leadership support.
Possible actions to consider:
  • Seek more clarity and use this to plan an approach- What happened before?; What underlies this? ; What is at stake?; What are the consequences for the project if this is not resolved?
  • Determine whether better understanding of change management is required and develop interventions for this if required.
  • Strong delivery often has great value in building support for change management. There may be some things that you can do that fall within your scope and that would be valued by business leaders – do these very well and deliver them quickly, and you may get more latitude for executing other parts of your scope. (Beware of doing things that are NOT part of your scope).
  • Organisational leaders play a critical change management role. It is within your mandate to insist on this, and to escalate any issues in this regard.
  • Soundboard your plans and get advice – the project sponsor sounds like a good candidate.

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4 Responses to What to do when the business has not bought into the change management concept

  1. Rick Maurer says:

    Ivan –

    I would add one thing to your list of things to do and don’t. Leaders often don’t really understand the human part of change management when they say yes. like a Las Vegas wedding, they meet the new approach on Friday, get married to it on Saturday, and by Sunday are already looking around.

    I find that I have my best success when clients slow themselves down (or I help them slow down) and carefully consider what it means to engage people. What impact will that have on your own sense of control? Do you anticipate support or resistance from your bosses by using this approach? So I have the skills to do what this approach suggests? It is only in chewing our food that we can digest it.

    • ivanoverton says:

      Thanks for your insightful comment, Rick. I sometimes think the real challenge in Change Management is to get all role players to realise that there are no “silver bullets” – doing it properly requires time and effort, and also no small measure of personal commitment. I often find that leaders simply do not have the time (and sometimes also lack the appetite) to do all that is required for successful change.

  2. Christina says:

    Getting buy is a critical part of any change initiative regardless of size. Change specialist should not measure the success of their engagements by the numbers of people they come into contact with. But the impact should be measured by understanding and therefore communicating at a clients’ level becomes crucial. Then being willing to relook at the strategy that you employed if you realise that youre estimations were not correct is not a sin, it is a learning curve. Therefore I will go back to my sponsor and renegotiate the changes in this regard. Keep in touch with those impacted by the change.

    • Administrator says:

      I like your flexible approach Christina – as you say, changing your plans is not a sin. In a complex environment (as most are) it is actually the only reasonable approach.

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