Archive

Please reload

Tags

Change Management Needs to Change: Harvard Business Review

January 22, 2016

As a recognized discipline, change management has been in existence for over half a century. Yet despite the huge investment that companies have made in tools, training, and thousands of books (over 83,000 on Amazon), most studies still show a 60-70% failure rate for organizational change projects — a statistic that has stayed constant from the 1970’s to the present.

 

Given the evidence, is it possible that everything we know about change management is wrong and that we need to go back to the drawing board? Should we abandon Kotter’s eight success factors, Blanchard’s moving cheese, and everything else we know about engagement, communication, small wins, building the business case, and all of the other elements of the change management framework?

 

While it might be plausible to conclude that we should rethink the basics, let me suggest an alternative explanation: The content of change management is reasonably correct, but the managerial capacity to implement it has been woefully underdeveloped. In fact, instead of strengthening managers’ ability to manage change, we’ve instead allowed managers to outsource change management to HR specialists and consultants instead of taking accountability themselves — an approach that often doesn’t work.

 

Here’s an example of this pattern: Over the course of several years, a major healthcare company introduced thousands of managers to a particular change management approach, while providing more intensive training in specific tools and techniques to six sigma and HR experts. As a result, managers became familiar with the concepts, but depended on the “experts” to actually put together the plans. Eventually, change management just became one more work-stream for every project, instead of a new way of thinking about how to get something accomplished.

 

Obviously, not every company lets its managers off the hook in this way. But if your organization (or your piece of it) struggles with effectively implementing change, you might want to ask yourself the following three questions:

 

1. Do you have a common framework, language, and set of tools for managing significant change? There are plenty to choose from, and many of them have the same set of ingredients, just explained and parsed differently. The key is to have a common set of definitions, approaches, and simple checklists that everyone is familiar with.

 

2. To what extent are your plans for change integrated into your overall project plans, and not put together separately or in parallel? The challenge is to make change management part and parcel of the business plan, and not an add-on that is managed independently.

 

3. Finally, who is accountable for effective change management in your organization: Managers or “experts” (whether from staff groups or outside the company)? Unless your managers are accountable for making sure that change happens systematically and rigorously — and certain behaviors are rewarded or punished accordingly — they won’t develop their skills.

 

Everyone agrees that change management is important. Making it happen effectively, however, needs to be a core competence of managers and not something that they can pass off to others.

Please reload

Recent Posts

Please reload

©2017 INUKSHUK ENTERPRISE CHANGE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE.

REPRODUCTION WITHOUT EXPLICIT PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

INUKSHUK ENTERPRISE CHANGE

MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE

ROYAL BANK PLAZA PO

200 BAY STREET

TORONTO ON M5J 2J0

1-888-635-9509

Inukshuk are stone landmarks built by peoples native to the Arctic tundra region.  They are used as directional indicators to break up the uniformity of barren, desolate and forbidding - yet beautiful northern landscapes.  Inukshuk can identify safe passage through mountain valleys, beyond open water channels, and act as vital navigational way-points to prosperous hunting grounds.

A familiar Inukshuk is a welcoming sight to travelers on an otherwise featureless and unforgiving landscape.  Our first client said that we have a similar effect, so we decided to embrace Inukshuk as a brand.  We are proud of our reputation for leading the way to improved business agility and building organizational capability to execute transformational change better and faster than the competition.