Aug 10, 2018

No. 1 Job, Recognise and Create the Conditions for Change

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Edited: Aug 10, 2018

Forget 'Silver Bullet' processes, they only work when the conditions for change are right. Each one usually has an example of a huge success when someone got lucky, and the conditions for change were right.

 

Having a clear change framework is important, but our collective experience knows that the Number 1 job is to recognise the existing conditions and then create the best possible conditions for each change. But, it's way harder than a 'Silver Bullet' to train people for, or persuade organisation leaders to use when they are looking for a 'quick fix'.

But, what are the 'Conditions for Change'? Sounds like a significant piece of work.

It is, it will dominate everything you do and will differ depending on the change environment and change task. For instance, imagine how differently you'd approach the introduction of a new, but well tested, process into a single organisation versus a multiple organisation strategy to integrate various services uniquely for mutual benefits. We don't believe there are approaches that work well across the spectrum between these.  Even for each of these different changes, the environments they sit within can also dramatically alter, consider how differently the approach would be between an Autocratic organisation and one with a much higher degree of devolved leadership and decision making.

 

We will explore 'Conditions' further in coming blogs posts, but they cover diverse areas such as; leadership style, governance, planning, motivation, change management approaches, physical spaces, cultures, team dynamics, change process, habits, risk tolerance, internal and external politics, engagement, narratives around why change is required, the list goes on.

It takes great skill, experience and persistence to improve Conditions for Change, but without this the chances of success decline dramatically, that's why it's the number one job for change professionals.

New Posts
  • Uncertainty is everywhere. It impacts change initiatives and projects significantly. Traditional change and project management approaches are based on linear processes with mechanisms like Risk Management to help manage the impact of uncertainty. However, we are working in environments where uncertainty is high, higher and higher with each passing year, impacted by changing consumer preferences, global events, easier communications and transportation, the pace of innovation and the pace of technological advancement. Being successful means being able to find a way through these emerging environments effectively. Increasingly we find change initiatives setting off without really knowing how to achieve the outcomes they are seeking, or alternatively knowing what their solution is without understanding the outcomes that will result. Responding to these emerging trends means that change initiatives need to have a sense of exploration built in, seeking to learn what the best outcomes and solutions are.  A major constraint is often the Business Case process which demands that there is a need to demonstrate that you know the solution and outcomes before you start. This then restricts the exploration voyage and the ability for people to learn, explore and shift their views during the implementation phase. Uncertainty is having a huge impact on change management and project management practices, which often resist the reality of an emerging situation, thinking it can be controlled rather than fully embracing it. Embracing uncertainty is an opportunity to learn, explore and create successful change that matches the complex environment you’re working in. #GRCuncertain
  • Change relies on people. People matter, but they are the very essence of what makes change complex and difficult. Whether building a bridge or developing a service, people have an enormous impact, something which some approaches seem to forget, suggesting that if you follow our process, it'll be ok in the end. At Change Troops we strongly believe that people are the key to success in any change initiative and an approach that doesn't focus entirely on them is going to deliver far fewer outcomes. We also know that people have different experiences, backgrounds and viewpoints adding a level of complexity that can be challenging. Part of the challenge is the array of paradoxes that exist in managing people, e.g. achieving consensus versus being able to make progress when there is disagreement. Putting people at the centre of change means that they feel that they are central, even if ultimately they disagree with the changes proposed. It means that engagement and communication are meaningful rather than tokenistic, and it also means that change leaders need to be open, adaptable and actively listen. #GRCpeople
  • Almost every conference speech and case study about successful change focuses on the endpoint in the story, the result. But most of our time is spent on the voyage to the result, whether this is a positive or negative outcome. The journey is complex and hard, but bypassing it misses the opportunity to feel the joy and motivation of the highs, frustration at the challenges and ultimately the ownership of and learning from the result. This is far more important to feel and touch the learning that it is from reading any Lessons Learnt Log. One common mistake is to see successful change elsewhere and decide to copy this model/solution/approach/feature, hoping to bypass the challenging struggle. These copycat projects have some of the highest failure rates, largely because they fail to see the value in the voyage, jumping to a quick fix 'Silver Bullet'. However, the reason for success in the original project will be largely due to the voyage, the engagement of and struggles of people along the journey, the unique environment or circumstances that generated the outcome, something that is almost impossible to recreate. The lesson, use the stories of others to inspire you on your own journey, embrace the ups and downs as this is where the value is, and see the opportunity in the one voyage that is most likely to help your initiative or project to be uniquely successful.
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