a thought or two on the value of change management


... and several more on when change management may become a problem

1/ change management, on the whole, can be helpful to break bad habits and create better ones (especially) in organizations that tend to:

  • prioritize the technical aspects of a project over the people experiencing change (not good)
  • think about communicating change when it's time for announcements and training (do it earlier), and
  • exclude people who should be included (especially the people doing the changing)

2/ Most importantly, change management (little c, little m) is a helpful concept to prepare for change by doing some structured thinking, which in my opinion, is too often in short supply.

3/ But change management is not a neutral technology! It can cause damage—and it usually happens when we make the flip to Change Management (big c, big m).

4/ Despite the name "change management", change cannot be managed ... it's an individual experience and a personal choice. At best change can be influenced, at worst it is coercion.

5/ Change Management continues a *very* *bad* *habit* of industrialization where we turn philosophies into products that can be bought off a shelf. It happened with lean. And agile.

5b/ I wrote about this over here if you're interested: When Process does our thinking for us

5c/ And when the industrialization happens, the tools start doing the thinking for us, for example I've heard this question asked in the context of Change Management: “Who are we going to be changing?” It was a slip I'm sure, but that's the point.  

6/ Change Management still (almost always) excludes the people who will experience the change from the thinking about and planning the why, what, and how of the change. This is where resistance originates, not "because change is hard" or "people don't like change".  

7/ Change Management can become the one approach/tool/method for all change which needs to be "managed." Not good. Not all change is the same change. Appropriate methods, depending on context, are helpful.

8/ Change Management continues the wrong assumption that all change should be top-down change, and therefore must be managed. While perhaps necessary on occasion, this is not a helpful approach to creating the culture most organizations aspire to.

8b/ If the conversation is about "selling the change", it's an indication to wonder if planning could/should be more inclusive.

9/ Change Management requires LOTS of upfront planning. That makes good sense. But it's worth considering how uncertain the world actually is. Detailed (meaning lots of work) Change Management plans for lengthy projects may not always be the best use of time. The change is going to change, depend on it.  

10/ There are solutions to all of these "issues." But that's also the point, because when Change Management (big c, big m) becomes dogma, it makes it difficult to think outside the lines of change.

This previously appeared on LinkedIn

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