The Scenario

A pharmaceutical company is implementing a new access control system. You are employed as the Group OD Advisor, and you are delighted that the access control project has a strong emphasis on change management – you believe strongly in the importance of change management, and would like to integrate the project change management interventions into your own ongoing culture change initiative and the introduction of a new performance management system. The project change manager seems to be quite approachable and easy to work with, and you soon agree to work together in running an organisational culture assessment. The next steps will be to work with the leadership team to define an ideal new culture, and then to align the new performance management management system with this.

Do
  • Enter into dialogue as widely as possible within the organisation and ensure alignment with all other major organisational initiatives as far as possible
  • Actively collaborate with other role players who work in similar domains as project change management only as far as there is an overlap between your scope and theirs.
Don’t
  • Allow your initiative to get “sucked into” other initiatives unless this is mandated by project leadership and accompanied by a formal redefinition of your scope and role.
  • Take your eye off the ball that you are there to play – you serve the project. Continue reading
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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. Continue reading

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Typical definitions of “organisational change management” refer to the processes, methods, techniques, and tools that are used to bring about change, with a particular focus on the human element. In the organisational context, change management is often used in support of the implementation of change that originates from senior management decisions – to merge, unbundle, downsize, optimise, systematise, implement new technology, etc. Change management in this context would then typically emphasise persuasion – change has to be “sold” to stakeholders to get their “buy in”, there are concerns about “resistance to change” and change management practitioners have to dig deep to come up with answers to the “what’s in it for me?” question that employees are bound to ask. Continue reading

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I believe that many organisations err in being too casual about their change history. I also believe that the cumulative change history of an organisation is probably one of the most reliable predictors of its success with future change, and is also a very important factor in shaping organisational culture.

The cumulative organisational experience of past change has a very significant impact on how change will be dealt with in the present – a history of “bad” change will tend to:

  • Make stakeholders more resistant to change
  • Lead to the development of counterproductive learned responses (habits)
  • Undermine trust and confidence in change leaders
  • Limit opportunities for organisational learning of good change practice
  • Increase the likelihood of further instances of “bad” change. Continue reading
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by Ivan Overton.

We often use the metaphor of stakeholders “being on board”.  However, how communication is managed on large projects may not always  lead to this outcome.

If you want all of your stakeholders to come on board, your train must depart from where the stakeholders are. This seems so obvious, yet it is one of the most common mistakes made in change projects.  We all approach life from within our own perspective – each of us have a unique set of knowledge, assumptions, beliefs, values, habits, norms, personality traits, perceptions, fears, hopes, quirks, strengths and weaknesses.  Perspectives can differ so greatly that it can be extremely difficult  (or even sometimes virtually impossible) for us to understand the perspectives that others have. Continue reading

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by Ivan Overton.

I am a dyed-in-the-wool change consultant. This is what I’ve chosen to do some 15 years ago, and I’ve stuck to it ever since. I have some opinions on the art and science of change management, and while I would never call myself an expert (or heavens forbid, a guru) at anything, I know I’ve paid enough dues to feel that I’m no longer a beginner at this.

The nice thing about being where I am now in my career is that I have a sense of calmness about the work I do, a quiet confidence that developed over time. Of course, that’s not to say I don’t sometimes feel stressed out by sheer volume of work or crazy timelines, or that I’ve managed to find an antidote to all of the normal frustrations that beset the lives of all change managers. I suppose that the key thing I’ve learnt with regard to the latter is that it is about winning, not about being right. Continue reading

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by Ivan Overton.

While “Change management” is still the most commonly used term to describe our field of practice, there are many practitioners and scholars who object to this, pointing out that “change cannot be managed”, and insisting on alternative terms such as “facilitation of change” or “change leadership”.

Of course, these practitioners and scholars have a valid point – the emergence of new paradigms in science (notably quantum physics and chaos theory, which actually have roots that date back to the 1800’s), have increasingly made the limitations of Newtonian cause and effect thinking apparent. Even change in relatively simple systems (such a bowl of water into which a stone is dropped) exhibits unpredictable, chaotic patterns. Continue reading

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by Holger Nauheimer.

pensiveImage by pipiwildhead via Flickr

I read a great post of Peggy Holman on PATTERNS OF CHANGE: Invoking Emergence in a Time of Uncertainty Peggy starts with the provoking question:

What would it mean to know how to work well with the unprecedented upheaval many of us face today?

She continues:

We live in unprecedented times. With financial systems crumbling, oil prices rising and falling, educational systems failing their students, whole industries like newspaper publishing and auto manufacturing collapsing, it is clear that dramatic change is happening whether we like it or not. The pathways of the past no longer reliably guide us to understand the needs of the present, much less the future. … What follows is an emerging story that puts the old story of change in perspective, opens the way for something new, and provides some insight into how to put the ideas to work. Continue reading

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by Ivan Overton.

If I were asked to provide one example of excellent change management, I would choose a process that I was exposed to some 8 months ago. The facilitator of this process was not a change manager in the conventional sense, but I would certainly classify what she did (and more importantly, how she did it) as top-notch change management.

Cathy is a nursing sister and registered midwife, and presented a series of ante-natal classes to my wife Yolande and I and a group of other expectant parents. She presented the classes in a uniquely quirky, personal and entertaining way, with so much passion, authenticity and real “I’ve been there and know what it is like” authority. She drew freely from both her own experience as a mother and from her formal training and experience as a health care professional. Continue reading

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by Ivan Overton.

“She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again
I said I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty ways” (Paul Simon – 50 Ways to leave your lover)

As a change management consultant, I earn my living by minding other people’s business. I spend much more waking time with my clients than with my loved ones. To my further discredit, sometimes when I am at home and supposed to be minding my own business – the business of loving, relating, laughing, conversing, caring and just simply living – I find my mind wandering back to my clients, like an errant tongue worrying at a chipped tooth. Continue reading

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