What is Change Management?

Change is Leadership

Leading Change

I like the idea that change is mostly about Leadership.

As a practitioner I have discovered that genuinely involving staff in implementing the change is the key.

Put simply, leading others to change themselves works best in the long-term.

A useful summary of the process I generally follow:

  1. Establish a sense of purpose. What is there to gain / What happens to us if we do not act?
  2. Identify early adopters and work with them from day one. Involve everyone, yes everyone, at all levels. Spot the “negatives” and try to tune into and comment on their chatter. Adopt strategies to diffuse it.
  3. Create a “story” about what work will be like when the change has happened. A realistic, believable, deliverable story. Tell it to everyone, at all levels, every day, until you are thoroughly bored with hearing it. Then tell it some more.
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate, in appropriate ways at all levels. Have the formal and verbal communications originating from the team where possible. Respond to all comments received.
  5. Free up the early adopters to act. Give them permission to do stuff that helps the change happen. Change is unsettling and unnerving, your permission will give the team confidence to act on their own ideas. Be ready to help out when they make a mistake, because they will.
  6. Take every opportunity to highlight short-term wins. Publicly, but most importantly, privately within the team and at one to one reviews.
  7. Consolidate all the improvements and at some point declare the change-process ended……. Then encourage the team to keep it going. They will do so even though the “end” has arrived.
  8. Make sure the new ways of working stick. Now is the time to target the remaining negative voices in the team.

Finally, when staff and managers say that they are afraid of change, what they usually mean is that they fear that change will be imposed upon them. They usually recognise that change will happen, but are unsure about what to do.

This is why change is really about good Leadership.

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About the Author: Adam Blackie is a professional Interim Manager who leads service delivery teams through their change programmes. He works with CEO’s and their Boards in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

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Unsung Hero

Ommanney

South Latitude by F.D. Ommanney

I read recently a passage from a book, South Latitude by F.D. Ommanney, which was written in 1938 following a trip to the Antarctic continent in the late 1930’s. There is an interesting contemporary review from the Spectator Archive and an on-line Biography of F D Ommanney.

In this passage he is being introduced to the procedures for maintaining the engine of the launch upon which his party will rely for an unsupported exploration of the Ross Sea coast.

“The longer the explanation of these intricacies went on the more astonished I became at the faith of man, not in God but in himself and his own inventions. For we were to trust ourselves, so it seemed, upon a perilous and reef fringed coast to what was nothing more than a mass of interlocking and dependent contrivances. Each one might at any moment go wrong. If one went wrong they would all automatically go wrong and the whole thing would become in that instant a mere meaningless jumble of metal shapes……I saw before me a crouching beast, silent, inert, asleep but full of menace and the potentialities of disaster under its wooden housing amidships.”

The engine did indeed fail and later in the passage ……

“A metal plate on the engine said “It is important to …..the lubrication pumps.” The intervening words were obliterated by a smear of oil, but as I sat there listlessly working the wooden handle of the bilge pump back and forth, back and forth, my eyes fastened on this legend. What was it that was so important to do to the lubricating pumps? Perhaps George hadn’t done it. Perhaps that’s why the thing wouldn’t go. But I could not decipher it. I should never know what it was that one should do to the lubricating pumps that was so necessary or perhaps even so vital. It didn’t matter anyway. Who cared? “It is important to …the lubricating pumps.””

In bringing this up to date my mind immediately substituted modern software for the mechanics of the boat engine. Organisations increasingly rely on complex interconnected software and the consequent automation it brings to their business processes. This automation in-turn relies on the detailed knowledge, attention and ownership of a few key individuals.

So let us learn from the example of George, who could not maintain his lubrication pumps because he was not included as part of the exploration team; and acknowledge that support teams are already the most vital part of any software reliant organisation.

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Defining Change Management

There are plenty of complex ways to define Change Management. I try to keep it simple and easy to understand.

Good things often come in threes, so here is change defined by the ‘Rule of Three’.

Change Management is how we transform business.

We can change the person, the team structure and/or the organisation’s attitudes and behaviours.

We have to decide which of these three areas we are changing and then move from point X to point Y.  This is where the fun starts.

Change success can be defined in these three areas;

  1. Business Strategy or the Vision – this is about communication and leadership
  2. Business Process or How do we get from here to there – this is about motivating  people to go on the journey
  3. Organisational Behaviour or What the teams and people do next – this is about making change stick

Successful change project leaders recognise the above from the outset of every project.

Have a great week.

Adam.

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Making decisions using Esse Quam Videri

 Esse Quam Videri

Kingsbury Grammar School – Esse Quam Videri

This was my old grammar school motto.

Esse quam videri is a Latin phrase meaning “To be, rather than to seem (to be)”. More on the meaning and history of the phrase can be found on Wikipedia here.

It is an interesting phrase, encouraging a level of integrity in everything that we do.

Usefully, it also allows us a way to assess behaviours in others because this Latin phrase can be inverted as follows; Videri quam esse, meaning “To seem to be, rather than to be.”

So, when I am selling an idea or project scope; or listening to a presentation from others, this handy reversible phrase is a useful checkpoint, particularly around the time any project decision is made.

That is when I try to make sure that I, and others, are using it the right way round.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie occasional writer and professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in change management, Implementing Change, Interim Management, Leadership, leading change, reputation management | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What does good project management look like?

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man

Here is a quote from a blog I read recently. I found it here

“……….. it’s true to say that good management is a bit like oxygen – it’s invisible and you don’t notice its presence until it’s gone, and then you’re sorry.”

― Charles Stross, The Fuller Memorandum

It made me realise that the best project managers are the ones that the business does not really notice.

The project manager is quietly efficient, with everything in it’s place and no panicky last minute rush. The team doing all the work necessary to effect a smooth delivery of what was planned.

Therefore, my new aim is to finish a project and hear the client ask;

“Why did we employ Blackie? We could have completed that project without him”.

Then I can truly say;

“Job done”.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie occasional writer and professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

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Do you expect chocolate chips in your cookies?

Cookies

Chocolate or Raisin.
It matters.

Many people like cookies, and I am one of those people.

I like cookies even more when they have chocolate chips in them. Furthermore, my preference is for plain chocolate, but I like milk chocolate ones too.

One day a long time ago….

I was sitting at a screen writing this blog, thinking about coffee break later that day. I decided to go to my regular coffee shop and have one of their chocolate chip cookies with my coffee; I won’t worry about my waistline today!

This thought inspired me to write more, some reward later on, to motivate me. I was looking forward to my chocolate chip cookie.

Later that day.

I am at the coffee shop, a short queue, a last-minute wait. Never mind, I can see the cookies, not long now.

Even better, there is a new sign at the counter. It says, “Free Cookies for regular customers”. Great stuff!

I walk back to the office, sit at my desk, remove the lid and smell the coffee. It’s time to open the cookie bag. I take a bite.

Oh no. These are raisin cookies, not what I wanted at all. I wanted chocolate chips. These are no good. No way. What a disappointment.

It ruined the rest of my day. The disappointment drags. I cannot shake it off. My writing suffers.

Back to the present day.

What does this mean for change managers?

It’s about lots of things, but mostly about;

  • The scope of the project, – defining a cookie.
  • How to communicate, – better signage.
  • How we manage expectations, – influencing stakeholders before delivery.
  • How we manage variations to the deliverables, – clear alerts about product variations.

On the day described above, the client actually received a free cookie. He should have been delighted, but he wasn’t, it ruined his day.

This was because his preferences were unknown, he was not informed that there was a great deal available and he was anticipating something different.

Or was he just another awkward customer?

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie is an occasional writer and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in change management, Implementing Change, leading change, leading change management, project management, stakeholder management | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Something for those who are leaders.

Where are we going, exactly?

Where are we going, exactly?

This is just a bit of fun for the summer ……or is it?

I have known this short poem by Roger McGough for years, and have just rediscovered it.

For me, it sums up so much about the ambitions, aspirations and doubts, just below the surface of a few leaders with whom I have worked.

It also strikes an occasional chord with my own experiences when leading others through difficult transitions.

So, for all existing and wannabe leaders out there, here it is.

The Leader

I wanna be the leader
I wanna be the leader
Can I be the leader?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?
Yippee I’m the leader
I’m the leader

OK what shall we do?

by Roger McGough

Now be honest, does it strike a chord with you too?

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie occasional writer and professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

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I always wanted to be a procrastinator, but I never got around to it.

Decision Making Tools

Decision Making

I was thinking about decision-making.

I made one.

I decided to write this short blog about the reality of decision-making.

The question I asked was;

“How do we know when a decision is made?”

and I think the answer is;

“When we stop talking about it.”

So, if you come back here at a later date and see that I have changed this blog, then you’ll know that I did not make a decision, and that this was really meant to be a discussion.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie is an occasional writer and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in change management, Implementing Change, Leadership, leading change, leading change management, project management | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Are you leading or implementing change?

Kubler Ross change curve

Time for the UK to move on?

Many managers and change consultants advocate holistic and collaborative approaches to change. Typically they use phrases such as;

“cultivating a change culture” or

“empowering people to change” or

“advocating change to allow its benefits room to breathe and grow.”

I agree with, and prefer to work to, the values and techniques implied in these phrases, where organisations have the time and an aptitude for collaborative change. However, it doesn’t always work this way.

I have recently been sensing that UK organisations are trapped in the Denial-Frustration-Depression phase of the change curve. I have not seen any real level of experimentation and the decisions that are announced seem to focus on short term “salami slicing” of old models. Too much of that behaviour usually leads to an under resourced system with no chance of delivering the scope of it’s objectives.

This lack of progress could mean that UK plc. feels it is running out of time and may turn to more authoritarian, directive measures to change organisations perceived to be in crisis. Local authority leaders seem to be signposting this as a possible outcome in a Guardian newspaper article this month.

Schein's change model

Are we telling others to change?

If a crisis state becomes the norm, organisational change behaviour could then default to something more like the Lewin Schein model of Unfreeze – Learn – Refreeze, where the Learn stage is simply a set of top down instructions for middle management to cope with. i.e. A more authoritarian approach to change.

Are UK organisations and their managers really behaving like this? If so, I think it could be a lost opportunity for real improvement in the next few years.

So, how do you approach change projects? Do you work through a structured set of actions to encourage staff along the change curve, or leave it to the last minute and push change through as quickly as possible?

Discuss.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie is a writer and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in change management, Implementing Change, Leadership, leading change, leading change management, project management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment