Recognising the importance of Change Management.

In my last blog, I focused on three related concepts – Change, Coaching and Commitment (The 3 Cs). In this post, I’d like to focus on Change, specifically the importance of Change Management.

Depending on the research you read, between 60 and 70% of change and transformation programmes fail. There are a number of reasons given for this high failure rate – insufficient leadership support, unrealistic expectations of the organisation’s ability to change, insufficient focus on benefits and no real picture of the future, a poorly defined and/or poorly created vision, failure to change the culture, and insufficient engagement.

Change comes with risk, and because so much can go wrong, change needs to be managed effectively.

At this point I’d like to reflect on some conversations that I have had in the past as a Business Change lead.  Many colleagues I spoke to considered project management and change management to be synonymous disciplines. During these conversations, I had to emphasise that successful change requires a recognition that Project Management and Change Management are complementary disciplines – they are not identical. In fact, attempting to conflate project management and change management is yet another reason for the failure of Change Programmes.

A bit of theory to follow…

ₒ  Change Management incorporates the organisational tools that are used to help individuals make successful personal transitions, resulting in the adoption of change and the realisation of associated benefits.
ₒ   Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to activities in order to meet project outputs. It is accomplished through the processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing a project.

Implementing “A Change Programme” requires varying amounts of each discipline based on:
ₒ  the complexity and degree of the change to existing processes, systems, organisational structure/blueprint, ways of working, or job roles; and
ₒ  the amount of stakeholder disruption created, and the organisation’s existing attributes – such as culture, value system and the history of past changes.

Too little focus on Change Management and you end up with a ‘product’ delivered by a ‘Project Team’ but and an organisation not ready to receive it – and therefore a failure of the Change process.

End of Theory bit!

So, here’s my take on the key elements of Change Management – in no particular order other than the obvious!

C – Communicate, Communicate and then Communicate some more. Lots of change initiatives fail because of the lack of, or perceived lack of effective communication.
H – Have an End in Mind and describe this as simply and succinctly as possible. What does the change mean in real terms? What are the advantages, benefits and measurable successes that will result from the change?
A – Attract advocates to support the change initiative. ‘Champions’ are essential to drive the change and maintain momentum within their teams.
N – Nurture the new behaviours needed to embed the change.
G – Grow talent internally to lead the change in order to establish ownership.
E – Empower, engage and encourage your stakeholders. As with communication, the three Es are essential to success!

There’s lots of Change Management theory out there and I’m not going to claim that the above “CHANGE” summary covers all the details. However, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a pretty good basis to start!

The SUMS Change Management Community of Practice is a really useful forum to explore a range of change management issues faced in the Higher Education sector. You’re too late to join our January event but watch out for future dates that will be published on our Events Page in due course.

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