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Effective Change Management, Part 1: It’s Not that Simple

Simply put, change management is about getting people to move from Point A to Point B. Can you think of an organizational strategy or initiative that does not include the need to make changes? We all want everything to be better, faster, or cheaper, and in order to do that, people must change their thinking and actions. When done correctly, change management moves people to Point B from Point A more simply.

You may be reading this because your experience tells you that change management isn’t simple. Lack of executive support, inadequate resources, poorly defined plans, scope creep, and unwilling team members are a few of the reasons that change fails. When we don’t effectively communicate why, what, when, how, and where, we set ourselves up for hardship. The good news is that there are ways to anticipate and overcome resistance and impediments to change. This is the work of change management.

Just getting started? Pick a change management methodology to follow. Of the many good approaches, I like John Kotter’s 8-Step Process best. So far, it’s worked for me every time. Kotter’s steps include:

1. Establishing a sense of urgency
2. Creating the guiding coalition
3. Developing a change vision
4. Communicating the vision for buy-in
5. Empowering broad-based action
6. Generating short-term wins
7. Never letting up
8. Incorporating changes into the culture

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, if you fail to plan then you should plan to fail. For best results, you need a change management plan that follows your methodology. Think of a change management effort that went relatively well. Did someone consciously plan the change management effort? I’m betting yes. How many of the 8 steps above were part of that plan? Experience tells me that many were included.

An effective change management plan will address the human side of change because it’s the people who move organizations from the current to the desired future state. The plan’s table of contents includes a description of the change, its objectives, benefits, stakeholders, timeline, impact analysis, communications plan, and training plan. The internet is full of examples for you to consider; I like the guidance offered in Project Management Institute’s PMBOK® Guide.

At Talent Function, change management is in every consultant’s job description. We begin thinking about change management at the start of client engagements – and we think you should too.