There is one type of change that results in more eye rolling, cynical comments and coffee machine jokes than any other. I am talking about changes that go under names like “cultural change”, “new values” or “behavioural change”. Announce an initiative of this type and many of your team will be sceptical. They will be sceptical because they have seen it all before. They have observed many cultural change programs previously and noted that nothing really changed as a result of any of them.
Are you involved in change management? Do you take part in conversations about change management? Do you ever find yourself questioning what exactly change management is? It can at times seem like a rather vague discipline to get your head around.
Every so often, pretty much every organization embarks on transformational change. This title may be applied to a major program of systems, process or organizational change, or the transformation may be driven by something less tangible – such as altering organizational culture. Whatever it is, the organization wants to be different in a significant way.
There has been a whole lot written about the levels of success of organizational transformation programs. It makes sorry reading, but that’s not my subject today. I want to explore in this post is the inherent tension between business-as-usual operational performance and transformation. At heart, this is a conflict between doing a great job today and being able to do an even better job tomorrow.
I have just published my latest book, called "Managing Your Team Through Change". I am certain there is space for another book on change management. Two reasons drive this certainty: most books ignore team leaders as a specific audience with particular needs, and most change books do not talk to the messy reality of organizations. If you are a team leader, line manager, or someone who works with, supports or advises team leaders on change – this is the book for you.
Middle management is a really unfashionable topic. But to run an efficient organization it is critical to help middle managers fulfil their roles. My book sets out to do this, in the specific context of change.
Early in my career I was volunteered, (I know that’s an oxymoron, but most of us have experienced “being volunteered”), to join a quality circle. We met on a regular schedule, discussed problems and identified solutions. Our managers kept stressing how important our quality circle was. It was interesting for a while. Nothing much came from it.
Perhaps nothing came from it because “being volunteered” was the wrong starting point. I think it did not work because the expectation of what our quality circles were going to achieve was out of proportion.
I spend my life involved in projects, programs and change initiatives. A part of most of these initiatives is doing some form of stakeholder management. The aim is to engage stakeholders in the work of the program, to get their support in achieving the program goals and in accomplishing sustained change. I have come to realise that stakeholder management is like charity. It starts at home. By ‘home’ I mean with those you are working closest to - the program team itself.
In this blog I will explain why you should take the blame for things that go wrong that were your fault - even if only partially your fault. The most common argument for taking the blame is an ethical argument. The basis of that ethical argument uses principles such as we should tell the truth and not risk that others take the blame for our shortcomings. Whilst I support this ethical argument I am going to ignore it for the time being. What I want to build on is the selfish argument for taking the blame.
Most large organizations have some form of project management and change management teams. In fact, lost of businesses have multiple teams running projects, delivering change and otherwise helping the organization to develop and improve.
There is lots written about project, programme, portfolio and change management – about increasing project performance, creating high performing project teams and so on, but there is less thought about the setting up and running of project and change management teams.
Change management literature is full of advice about the importance of clear objectives. Clarity is always recommended: why are you changing, what do you want to achieve, what will it be like when the change is complete? Business language is replete with associated terminology: objectives, goals, outcomes and visions.
All business projects result in an outcome in the form of a change. In business it is important to be able to measure these outcomes. How should you approach this? The following article is extracted from a book I wrote recently, The Financial Times Briefing: Change Management, and provides some thoughts on measuring change.