Ask 100 people to define Change Management, and you'll get 100 different definitions. At the end of the day, the definition is just semantics. What really matters is whether you can implement a Change Management program in a practical way that allows you to support your organization in successfully achieving its goals. Whether you're a Change Manager, a consultant, or the tech. guy who was told to "figure out some Change Management stuff," this blog will help address common issues and topics you're likely to run into along the way.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tragic Photos: Can Change Management Theory help drive action?

A few days ago, I saw a post on Humans of New York that highlighted the work being done by Melissa Fleming in the UN Refugee Agency. In the story, she says, "I don't think I anticipated how difficult it would be to make people care." (Click here to see the full post on HoNY.) This caught my eye, as I'd recently been thinking about a similar topic - Why don't the tragic pictures we see of natural disasters and refugees move more people to action?

With Facebook, Twitter, and 24-hour news sites, we are constantly inundated with heart breaking pictures.  As a mother, the pictures of children in war-torn countries especially move me.  It's impossible to see these pictures without imagining your own children in these situations.  And yet...
Despite feeling awful when I see these pictures, I've never taken action.  I took a very personal look at why, and here's what I discovered.

Yes, these pictures make me aware of the tragedy that is occurring, and I feel terrible thinking about the people suffering.  But the problems feel so big, and I don't really know what I can do to make the situation better.  Which makes me feel helpless, and my inability to help makes me feel guilty, and so I quickly move on to the next article on CNN, hoping it will take away these feelings of sadness, and helplessness, and guilt.

Let's pause there and move from the emotional to the theoretical.  If we assume that as least a few people feel the same way I do when looking at tragic photos in the news, then from an ADKAR perspective, what we have are lots of people who are Aware of the issue, and have a strong Desire to help, but have neither the Knowledge nor Ability to take action.

For example, if you see a picture of a natural disaster, your first inclination might be to donate money.  But to whom should you donate it?  Which charity will make the best use of your money?  Or if you'd prefer to give your time, whom do you get in touch with to volunteer?  What if you don't have the skills they're looking for - how else can you help?

You could do research, find rankings of the best charities and look up the phone number of your Senator so you can call and encourage them to vote for releasing emergency funds.  But this all takes time and effort, which brings us to our second Change Management theory (and, admittedly, one of my favourites) - the Rider, the Elephant, and the Path.  Published by Chip and Dan Heath in their book, Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard, this theory suggests that when our will power to do something runs out, and continuing to change isn't our natural inclination, then we need to find a way to make change easy.

Which brings us to the question I finally arrived at, when examining my own reaction to tragic photos...

How can we make it easy for people to respond to tragic photos by supporting a cause when they don't know what action to take?

How do we smooth their path to action by giving them the knowledge and ability they need to make a change?

I don't have the answer, and there are definitely lots of people out there with much more expertise in this area than me, so I'll share my rough idea below, but I'd prefer to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments.

My idea: What if every time you saw a tragic photo on Facebook or a news site you could click on it, and a list of 2-3 actions you could do to support the cause would appear.  One might be a "Donate Now" link, that would allow you to donate to a charity that had been pre-vetted and approved by a neutral and trustworthy third party.  Another link may say, "Get Involved," and link you to an organisation in your area that coordinates volunteers.

These links would let people quickly and easily take action, and now, instead of feeling helpless and guilty and quickly moving to the next article in an effort to alleviate those feelings, they feel empowered and proud, which hopefully leads them to search out the next photo and click to learn more about how they can drive change.

What do you think?  How would you help drive action?  Leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Two Consulting Myths that can Cost Millions

Nine months ago, I left the world of consulting. Now that I sit on the other side of the table at sales meetings, I often find myself listening to a sales pitch and thinking back on some of the biggest myths that surrounded major consulting projects. 
For anyone who is thinking about entering into a large-scale system implementation, keep these myths in mind the next time you find yourself in awe of a glossy PowerPoint presentation.
The 10-Month Myth: "Sure, we can implement a full ERP system (SAP, Oracle, take your pick) across your entire organization in 10 months." No. Just no. I've walked on to multiple projects with a 10-month project plan. Most of them ended up running from 18-36 months. No one implements an enterprise-wide system in 10 months. Starting with a 10-month plan simply means that you will end up spending extra money in change requests and hiring additional resources, not to mention the stress of explaining to your organization why the project is running months or years behind schedule. This myth is largely perpetuated, though, by myth two...
The Vanilla Myth: "We can implement your system in no time if you go vanilla." "Going vanilla" means that you don't customize the system. You use it exactly as it is designed. Most companies think, with the absolute best intentions, that they can implement a system without making any changes. Six months into the project, they realize they can't. Now, not only do they need to do a lot of re-work to make all of the customizations that they should have been making from the start, but they've also just wasted 6 months of time and money trying to implement a system that was never going to work for them.
Tell me what you think. Has your project suffered because of these myths? Have you been on a successful 10-month ERP implementation?

Friday, October 24, 2014

The One-Step Change Method

I've been thinking about Change Management quite a bit lately, and I've decided that behind all the methodologies and acronyms, behind the research and tools, there is one thing that drives successful change.


Organisational commitment and personal commitment.

Commitment of time and commitment of resources.

Commitment when the change is hard.

Commitment when everyone else has given up.

Commitment when the newest buzzword, or trend, or shiny object tempts you.

Commitment to sustained change over easy fixes.

Behind Kotter's Eight Steps, ADKAR, the Elephant and Rider, and the mice chasing their cheese is someone who is committed to the change.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

And Now on Amazon!

As I mentioned in my last post, my book, Practical Change Management for IT Projects, is now available!  And for those of you in the U.S. and other Amazon countries, it's now available on Amazon, as well!  Click here to go directly to the book on Amazon.

For anyone who does buy the book, I would love your feedback!

This will be my last promotional plug for the book on the blog.  Next post is back to all Change, all the time.

Thanks to all of you for your support in making this blog and the book possible!


Friday, March 7, 2014

If you enjoy the blog, you'll love the book!

Dear readers,

I'm extremely excited to announce that my book, Practical Change Management for IT Projects, will be published next week and is now available for pre-order.  Just click here to order your copy now!

Like the blog, the book is focused on providing practical advice on implementing Change Management.  It's full of templates and exercises that will help you create a Change Management plan.  Based on the Five Pillars of Change, with chapters dedicated to Sponsorship, Stakeholder Management, Communication, Training, and a section on Organization Design, this book provides a comprehensive beginner's guide to Change.

And don't be fooled by the name.  Practical Change Management for IT Projects will be relevant for anyone implementing Change Management on organization, culture, or process projects, as well.

Thank you to all of my loyal readers for making this book possible, and I hope you enjoy the book as much as you do the blog!

Happy reading,

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Change Management and Human Resources: So Happy Together

I was recently invited to participate in an interview with the Change Management Institute about the growing intersection between Change Management and Human Resources.  A transcript of the Q&A is below.  You can also view the original article in the Global Change Management Institute Newsletter by clicking here.

What were your initial training, education and background?  How did you come to be interested in Change Management?  
I joined Accenture straight after graduating from Pennsylvania State University and worked on an SAP project doing Change Management and became hooked! From those first years in Accenture’s Human Performance practice, through my time in IBM’s Strategy and Change division, to my current work in Talent2’s HR Advisory team, I have had the opportunity to help thousands of people navigate through their change journey.
When do you think that Change Management began to be recognised as a management discipline? 
Although Change Management was regularly included in large IT projects, up until around five years ago, it was hard for Change Managers to get a seat at the leadership table.  However as more business leaders experience first-hand the benefits Change Management,  practitioners now influence and collaborate with the Project Management Office across functional and technical teams, serving as an adviser to project Sponsors. 
How Does Change Management support HR?
One of the main trends we are seeing in recruitment is evolution of HR departments becoming more strategic.  Whether it’s building Executive Sponsorship for change in an organisation or empowering managers to shift some of their attention from their “day job” to their HR responsibilities; we are seeing HR take on more of a leadership role.  And this leadership is often exercised by taking responsibility for communications to ensure that the staff understands the nature and reason for the change; by implementing intensive training program; providing managers with the skills to deal with employee relations issues; engage with all levels of the organisation to get people on-board and implement change.  Change Management practice has supported HR departments achieve their vision of becoming a strategic voice at the C-level.
How has the rapid pace of change in organisations influenced HR in regards to how they select candidates? 
The ability to drive change through an organisation has become a significant consideration for selecting and evaluating leaders.  When we conduct leadership assessments for clients, one of the key capabilities we measure is “Leading Change.” 
For front-line employees, if you read through job descriptions, you’ll often find that companies explicitly state that a candidate must be able to work in a “fast-paced environment” that is “constantly changing” with the ability to be “self-directed” and adapt to “changing priorities.”  These all paint a picture of a candidate who is ready and able to change with the organisation.  Whether it’s formal or informal, Change Management is starting to become an integral part of most positions across an organisation.
How does the role of Change Management differ across companies?
I have worked with large, multi-national companies that actually have entire Change Management teams with detailed methodologies, processes, and tools that are applied consistently to all changes across the organisation. 
Other large organisations have one or two HR professionals that are dedicated to Change Management who work as internal consultants to provide guidance to large projects.  Many large and mid-size companies will partner with a company like Talent2 whose specialist HR service offering provides for Change Management methodology and deep experience. 
However in smaller organisations, Change Management is often left to IT Managers and Project Managers to juggle with their “day job.”  This is where I most often see companies struggle.
Would you advocate for more professional training and accreditation? 
As the demand for Change Management increases, it has become increasingly difficult to identify and select a well-rounded Change Manager.  I think it would be fantastic to have more professional training, as well as a consistent set of standards that people must meet to be accredited in Change Management.  I think the Change Management profession is at a point where it is ready to follow a similar path to maturity that Project Management took, which culminated in professional standards and accreditation such as the Project Management Institute and Prince II, as well as the inclusion of Project Management in projects being considered a “must have,” rather than a “nice to have.”
What do you think are the future trends and forecasts for Change Management Practice?
I’ll go back to the connection between Change Management and HR.  Traditional Change Management has focused on five key areas: Executive Sponsorship, Stakeholder Management, Communication, Training, and Organisation Design.  I think more and more, we’re seeing that in order to really embed change in an organisation, Change Management needs to touch a large range of HR functions, as well. 
This includes building changes into the performance management process so that people understand the new behaviours that are required and are subsequently measured on whether they demonstrate them.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Blog Feature: Introducing Polls!

Dear Readers,

I read a lot of articles on Change Management, and I talk to a lot of clients about their Change Management needs, but I've always wanted to gather more input about what people think about Change.  So, I have added a new feature to this blog: polls!

Every couple weeks I will post a new poll question.  It's to the right of this post.  Go ahead, take a look.

Found it?  Good.  Now go ahead and select an answer.

After every few questions, I will post a summary of my findings.  As with all research and surveys, the more responses, the better the data, so please share with your friends and colleagues so that we can get a good sample size for each poll.

Every time I put up a new poll, I'll post about it, so that those of you who subscribe to the blog will be automatically notified.

I look forward to seeing your thoughts about Change Management!

Kind regards,