This might seem an odd title for an article by someone who makes their living building change capabilities in organisations, and who spends a lot of time talking about, thinking about and working with Change Management.
The point I want to emphasis is not that Change Management is no thing or nothing, it is quite definitely something! It is not a thing, because it is many things.
If you are the sort of person who follows my posts, here or elsewhere, the chances are that you are interested in organisational change. The chances are also fairly high that you have been involved in several change initiatives. I expect that at many times your organisation has struggled with change.
I feel confident enough to say, if you have never struggled with change, then that’s because you have never been involved in a change of any complexity.
I want to talk about some words – specific words, but in order to do this I’m going to start with a big generalisation.
The important thing about words is that they have meanings. Because words have meanings we are able to communicate about all sorts of objects, ideas, concepts and whatever other entities, things or stuff we want to talk about.
Not long ago I published a post titled "what's the point of change management?" (you can find it on this site). In this article I want to do the same sort of thing for project management. I aim to write a third article contrasting project and change management.
Like many people who post on LinkedIn, I am deeply interested in the development of leadership and management disciplines - how we can continue to make them better. One way we can improve the way we work is to identify best practices and then apply them more widely. And this seems to be a commonly accepted approach. I want to express a bit of scepticism about this approach.
The stakeholder universe is becoming ever more complex for organizations. It has always been a challenge to determine which groups of stakeholders to focus on. Current trends are exacerbating this.
Traditionally there were three main types of stakeholders organizations had to consider. Firstly, there were the owners and funders of the business, such as shareholders and banks, ensuring their needs were being met by the organization’s performance and strategy. Secondly, there was the internal audience of staff and work colleagues, making sure they were motivated and understood the organization’s direction. Thirdly, was the external audiences of customers and suppliers, making sure they were happy to keep buying and supplying.
On most projects thinking sooner or later turns to stakeholders. Unfortunately, it is usually later rather than sooner. Stakeholder management is regularly kicked off only when there is a problem with stakeholders.
We all do it all the time: we communicate, we interpret and we connect. We communicate through our words, body language, tone, actions and behaviours. And we constantly interpret everyone else’s words and behaviours. We start doing this as soon as we are born. When we get this right we form strong connections.