Sunday, April 21, 2013

Attention! All Management is Change Management

Although I have spent the last ten years with Change Management in my title, my early years were  in the day-to-day operations of organizations.  Thus I have a broad view on this matter.  With experience leading teams in Operations, HR, Sales, Manufacturing, Best Practices and Service, I want to state for the record that ALL management is change management.  (One of Bohn's Rules).

Why is that important Dr. Bohn?   Here's why:

We'll start with the easy answers and move to the tough ones.

  1. Most managers are responsible to induce a form of change or their employment could be jeopardized.   (Corporations generally don't pay you to maintain the status quo - you're there to make something better.)
  2. Most managers actually do make change happen, and many do it well.  They show year-over-year improvement and they are compensated for those successes.
  3. Managers, educators, leaders know when "something's gotta change around here!"  They see it, feel it in their gut, sense it, and know it.
  4. Change has been a constant in business ... forever.  The Laws of Physics do not change, but lots of products using the Laws of Physics are developed every day.    Businesses change to survive.
Some tough answers:

  1. Change Management has a multiplicity of models.  While that's good, it sometimes confuses the users of the process.
  2. Change Management has developed a mind-boggling array of toolkits, frameworks, templates, job aids and other paraphernalia.   No end-user can keep track of the stuff - but they do have binders of materials from various change workshops collecting dust on their bookshelves.
  3. Some Change Management gurus don't know a whole lot about business ... and it shows when they present.

And the toughest of all:

  1. Some executives have trusted change management systems and invested heavily in the models ... only to see their investments become a sunk cost (sometimes with a commensurate loss of business).
  2. Some executives have heard all the presentations and invested only to realize the change team was weak and ineffective.
  3. Some executives see CM as an ad hoc organization off to the side, brought in only as a last resort.
  4. Some executives have trusted external resources (aka Consultants) to help them with the model, only to see changeover from the external resource which resulted in a lack of continuity which ultimately resulted in a failed project costing  ... millions.  One can hardly blame the skepticism in the executive ranks for this discipline. 
... and yet, every one of those executives has had to manage change.  They've sometimes done it the hard way, with brute force, or with organizational savvy/power/political alliances.  And sometimes they've done it because they were ... drum roll ... great change managers (and they didn't even have the title!).

So ... the big need is for an integration of the fine tools developed by the change experts with the operational expertise of truly good managers and leaders.   What a change that would be!

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