Redbean - If you have ever been involved in a Change Management program - as a buyer, practitioner or participant - and wondered what that term means, you are not alone.
In the past few years this term seems to have blossomed into a catchall phrase to describe everything from a new ICT system rollout to a complete organisational transformation.
The Organisational Development and Learning types (they’re the ones in pure wool cardigans and slip-on business shoes and using iPhones) suggest only people change not companies so we need to nurture that personal transition, not force it, while the ICT and Project Management junkies (they’re the ones in wrinkle-free white shirts and polyester ties and using a Blackberry) argue that in any change program process, time, resources and money are king.
The question is which one of these ‘types’ do you hire to implement change in your organisation? Or do you hire both of them?
Organisational change comes in several forms. What’s motivating the change? Is it anticipatory or reactive? How do you want to proceed? Incrementally or in a discontinuous mode? Nadler and others* suggest these questions can lead to anything between tuning the organisation to completely re-creating it. And all this falls under one term - change management. Or does it?
When the HR types owned the process it was slower and called Organisational Change. In the past few years more radical change required by mergers and reconfiguration of businesses (from private capital influence in particular) has seen the business get involved and demand faster and more predictable results.
To say the former is people-centric while the latter method is process-centric is simplistic but no less correct. And it is obvious we need both. But are we getting that? I would say not.
Unfortunately while the people people were away facilitating change workshops and consuming reams of newsprint, blu-tac and wall space the process mechanics were engineering software that virtually ran the whole change management process for you. You just had to fill in the blanks of the latest prescriptive process such as Prince2, ADKAR or PMBoK and voila! - you had a change program.
Well sort of. What you had was half a change program. The process half. I would suggest that none of these processes properly address the other half of the change, the people.
No matter how tight the timeline and fiscally brilliant the Gant chart your internal people and external forces are not going to give two hoots about it, unless they want to. Real organisational change requires managing, or at least understanding, all the forces acting upon your organisation and its people - staff, shareholders and customers.
Driving change by just managing the low hanging fruit you ‘appear’ to have control over - time, resources and costs - may deliver a successful project but will it deliver the change desired/required? At least developments like Benefits Management coming out of the UK are focussing change managers on the outcomes.
So who do you hire? The soft change people or the hard change people? One of the best descriptions of the competencies a successful change manager should have has been developed by the Australian Change Management Institute. It sets out in clear language both the hard and soft skills, and the personal attributes required. Change Management Practitioner Competency Model - PDF
So who do you hire? As the iconic Indie band The Go-Betweens once said “Sometimes I need two heads“.