Why the need for effective Change Management capabilities and how to start building it within an organisation.
Over a hundred years ago, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution put forward that only those species that were able to change and adapt to their environments could survive. What is true of nature is also true of any organisation in the business world. Quite simply, in order to survive, organisations must be able to change and transform.
This white paper explores the urgency for an organisation to build up its change management capabilities and how it can do so in the 21st century.
It is authored by Nimalan Nadesalingam, a British national now residing in Germany and an internationally recognised authority in the field of Business Transformation. His Transformative Change book was released worldwide in 2014 and reached the Top 100 Sales Chart on Amazon for Business Books. Nadesalingam has had articles published in business magazines across the world in multiple languages whilst professionals from numerous organisations and industries have attended his trainings and workshops in the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Why organisations must change
Organisations often get to the top of their industry because they successfully change their industry. But to stay on top, they must then continue to change either their industry or themselves in order to satisfy the demands of a fast-changing environment.
Kodak were once dominant in the photographic industry, HMV were a once dominant retailer for music, Nokia were once the dominant manufacturer of mobile phones…. The list of fallen giants goes on.
Such fallen giants are examples of how even the strongest and most successful of organisations can fall on its knees – and often this is because the organisation is just not able to undergo the changes necessary to ensure its continued survival.
Why organisations keep failing at change
A business transformation can be big or small, simple or complex, specific to few or expansive across the organisation. Generally, however, most types of changes will take shape in one of three areas; (i) operational and process changes (ii) technological changes (iii) cultural changes.
All of these changes often require the support of specialist in the field of interest (e.g. LEAN experts for processes). And there are no shortage of specialist fields to support these related changes. But despite all this specialist knowledge and professional disciplines combined with traditional project management, research continues to show that organisations are more often than not failing to successfully deliver their change projects. Projects are sometimes simply scrapped or when they are actually delivered there are done so being over-budget, behind schedule or with a reduced scope of deliverables.
Why, despite all the advanced professional developments over the years, are organisations still struggling to change? Often, the reason for a transformation project failing is simply because organisations overlook the ‘people side of change’.
It is a trait of human nature, that when change is enforced upon someone, the natural reaction is to resist the change. And so when organisations are perceived to enforce a change upon its employees and their work-life; is it no wonder that the workforce may resist the change? The costs of this resistance is the unnecessary difficulties that the change will face in its implementation. No matter how efficient a new process or advanced the new technology, it will not deliver its maximum potential until it is used by those employees that need to adopt it.
It is for this reason that the concept of Change Management has arisen – to provide a professional approach for the management of the ‘people side of change’. And, quite simply, any organisation wishing to implement the necessary changes for its survival, must have the support of effective Change Management.
But what’s gone wrong with Change Management?
Why, despite all these advanced professional developments over the years, are organisations still struggling to change? For decades, the answer has been that it is because organisations simply overlook the ‘people side of change’. And to that end, the concept of change management was born. But the problem is that research suggests that organisations are still no better at delivering change programmes today than they were before the arrival and development of Change Management.
Some have put forward that this is because Change Management is not a value-add and too ‘fluffy’ for a pragmatic application. Such viewpoints are understandable, but rather than write off Change Management as whole, it would be better to instead consider that perhaps Change Management is not always effectively introduced and developed within an organisation. Some reasons for this could be as follows;
- The Change Management ‘champion(s)’ are not suitable
- A lack of an effective Change Management methodology
- A lack of an effective Change Management training programme
- A lack of credible Change Management practitioners
- A restriction in resources dedicated for Change Management
The criteria for effective Change Management
So, how does an organisation go about developing effective Change Management capabilities? Well, the following are essential:
- An effective Change Management methodology
- Pragmatic Change Management trainings
- A genuine Change Management champion and strategy
- Value-adding and competent Change Management practitioners
But the above factors in isolation are not enough. Rather, the goal is for these Change Management supporting elements to be effectively integrated with the business at all levels and functions. So, any Change Management methodology must be able to co-exist with any existing Project Management methodologies and any Change Management practitioner must be partner in support of change rather than a mere critic of it.
Effective Change Management is achieved when it becomes a natural element in the leadership behaviour of the company and, as such, the need for an organisations leadership to buy into Change Management is critical.
More and more organisations are exploring the concept of Change Management and are looking to adopt its practices and approaches into their organisations.
But such capability cannot be assumed to be easily adopted, and there are dangers to the organisation in attempting to bring in Change Management that is less than effective. At its worst, Change Management when applied ineffectively can actually get in the way of transformations, playing the role of a noisy critic with no solutions. At best, ineffective change management is a waste of time.
Yet, to give up on Change Management would not be an option. The need for businesses to change is greater than ever and the need to manage the people side of change remains a critical component for successful transformation initiatives. So, the essential goal for an organisation is to embrace effective Change Management.
Critical foundations for effective Change Management should include a credible methodology coupled with capable Change Management practitioners. But, behind these should be a strategic approach led by pro-active leaders who understand the necessity of Change Management. After all, whilst managers maintain the status quo, it is leaders who deliver change.
Profile of Author
He also is a respected and acclaimed professional keynote speaker and writer in Organisation Transformation, specifically in the fields of Change Management, Performance Management and Continuous Improvement.
Nimalan has worked across the globe as a consultant and leader on major programmes whilst also training, coaching and mentoring various levels of management from numerous cultures and continents in Organisation Transformation and Change Management.