As a leader striving to match the behaviours of your people with your company’s strategic objectives, you’ve heard the phrase ‘change management’. It’s supposed to be simple: If ‘Change’ is moving a system or culture from A to B, then ‘Management’ is the process that defines, guides and supports it.
But because of its pace, unpredictability and complexity, we can only ‘manage’ change in the sense that we can ‘herd’ cats.
What Can Be Managed
What we can manage is the expectations and experience of change. And that means giving your people the tools and techniques to adapt to, work with, and rock the rollercoaster.
A Quick Metaphor
It’s like piloting a yacht — [not that I’ve ever done this, but the metaphor works] — you want to change direction and head for that paradise island, but to get there you must constantly trim your sails against blustering winds, work your rudder against hidden currents, and adjust your angle in line with oncoming waves.
It's even more difficult, because you are leading a fleet of people. You may succeed in ‘landing’ your change management project, only to see your armada dashed against rocks of resistance, or floundering in seas of uncertainty!
Modern theory and contemporary practice show that navigating change is about informed resilience as well as solid systems and perfect process management. The good news is that this is not only possible; it’s also measurably achievable.
We use the following model to map and guide the change management and communication efforts of our clients:
Change Management Map
To institutionalise change; you need to move people from contact, through awareness, understanding, positive perception and adoption. The X-axis shows the negative consequences of missing or under-delivering on any of those steps. [Picture that fleet of yachts].
You and your people may accept that change is inevitable, but all humans have a psychological need for some stability during transition. This model is a map that can provide that security. Use it as you embark upon your next ‘change management’ adventure – and if you do so, please share your voyage and your learnings with me. I’d be delighted to hear your story and compare notes.