Defining Change Management
The first step toward helping your team understand what change management is, and what the value is, is to help them understand what exactly change management is. To understand what change management is, it oftentimes helps to start with what it’s not. Change management is not just a soft type of thing where we’re all singing “Kumbaya” and making each other feel good. It’s about tangible business results. This is probably the most important place to start as it relates to your executive team and some of your internal stakeholders.
In simple terms, OCM is anything that causes the business and the operations of your company to move forward to that future state, whatever it may entail. There certainly is a component of communications and training that goes along with that however, there is a lot more to change management beyond just training people on how to use the new system.
There are several workstreams within change management that are critical things like organizational design, and just redefining what people’s roles and responsibilities are going to be. The change impact and understanding how individuals and workgroups within your organization are going to be impacted by the transformation so that we can target our communications, training, and change efforts to fit exactly their needs via where they are today and where they’re headed.
For a deeper dive into some of the different workstreams, and some of the different components of change management, I’ve included a link to our organizational change management report, which gives some best practices and a deeper dive into understanding what change management is.
Change Management Prevents Failure
In some extreme cases acting as an expert witness in lawsuits involving ERP implementations, we find that the number one common theme with those implementations is a lack of organizational change management. Oftentimes, it helps to share that story with your stakeholders and with your team to help them understand the change management is absolutely a driver of success versus failure.
1. Implementing On-Time and On-Budget
Companies that don’t invest appropriately in organizational change management will typically find that they’re going to spend more time and money ironically, on their implementation than they would if they had invested appropriately in organizational change. Investing efforts associated with organizational change is absolutely critical to ensure that you’re successful in your initial implementation.
2. Operational Disruption
The second dimension of failure, which is even more costly and more disruptive than the first around implementation time and cost is the whole concept of operational disruption. If you think about what happens if you go-live and you haven’t managed change appropriately – in the major of cases your business will experience massive operational disruption.
OCM strategies mitigate risks to ensure that your people, the operations, and your organization are all ready to move forward into this future state so that by the time you get to go-live, it’s more of a non-event rather than a big, massive, chaotic event.
Why is change management important and how can it help your business succeed?
So, if changes are occurring in your organization – strategic changes, tactical changes, leadership changes, technology changes – then those changes are going to have impacts and effects on your people, processes, and performance. To help minimize those impacts and effects, from having unintended negative outcomes, it is necessary to have “change management” and transition methodologies in place with skilled resources delivering and executing on those methodologies. This helps to minimize possible negative outcomes and increase positive results. Change itself is a process – managing it, leading it, achieving it is also a process. And one that should not be viewed and managed with a one size fits all approach. Approaches and actions should be customized to fit your organizational culture and circumstances.
The definition of Organizational Development (OD) varies even more than that of Change Management. Again, many exist, some simple, some complex. And again, I’ll refrain from getting overly scholarly (you’re welcome). For the busy executive, OD is basically the application of tools, methods, frameworks, technologies, and processes to make your entire organization (yes, that includes people!) more productive, innovative, and profitable. OD is an ongoing, systematic process of implementing positive and effective organizational changes. Organizational development is known as both a field of applied behavioral science and as a field of scientific study and inquiry. It is interdisciplinary in nature and draws on many other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, communication, cultural anthropology organizational behavior, economics, political science, neuroleadership and theories of motivation, learning, and personality. In short, change management (and all the change management certifications one can get these days) is just one part of OD.
Why should you consider OD initiatives to support your organization in achieving desired outcomes?
“…Think of an organization as all the clothes hanging on a clothesline. All parts are connected. If you pull on the socks the towels move…” – Arthur Friedman
One of the distinguishing characteristics of OD is that it is based on collaboration and a “helping relationship.” OD takes a total system view — the organization as a whole, including its relevant subsystems in the context of the total system. Thus, OD interventions and improvement strategies, including change and transition, can focus on the whole system or on multiple levels of the system such as groups, teams, and individuals. OD interventions should be clearly tied to strategic goals and objectives. Parts of systems are not and considered in isolation; the principle of interdependency, that is, that changes in one part of a system affect the other parts, is fully recognized. These interventions and improvement strategies can focus on various initiatives within the organization such as communications, strategy, culture, and process as well as change and transition.
So, why should you care about these things?
Well, you want to be successful, don’t you? Isn’t that why you take on organizational improvement efforts to begin with – to innovate, to reinvigorate, to become even better – to increase performance. To prevent your organization from potentially failing before you even start, understanding and skillfully executing various principles of change management and OD are a necessity to success!
About Scott Span, MSOD, CSM: is CEO at Tolero Solutions. As a people strategist, leadership coach, and change and transformation specialist, his work is focused on people. Through his consulting and training work he supports clients to survive and thrive through change and transition and create people-focused cultures and a great employee experience. Through his coaching work, he supports people willing to dig deeper to identify and overcome what’s holding them back, change behaviors, accelerate performance and achieve their goals.
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