I’ve decided that I need to get official accreditation as a Change Manager.
I have the knowledge and the experience, but I think I need the official certificate if I want my career to develop.
I am thinking of the APMG-International Change Management accreditation, I will blog more about this as I go along.
To get the intellectual ball rolling, and because I’m too impatient to wait for the proper course, I have decided to revisit those parts of my MBA that were directly relevant to change management.
I am blogging this as a form of revision. If I write it down, I need to understand it, and the process will help embed the information in my head. Being able to spout theory is an important part of Looking Dead Clever which can lead directly to better rates of pay, so this is no laughing matter.
I’ve taken most of this from my MBA course (B713: Fundamentals in Senior Management) from the Open University Business School.
Ghosts in the machine
The first framework is the “Ghosts in the machine” model. This is my name for it, not the official one. Officially it’s the “Goal-orientated model”.
This model assumes rationality: that you can accurately understand and measure the current state and the desired future state (the goal) and therefore subtract the former from the latter to leave a clearly defined gap that the change management project can fill.
I think of it as “Ghosts in the machine” because the people are absent from the model, other than their role as predictable cogs in the organisational machine.
Even though it is obvious to the point of physical pain that this model is drastically inadequate (we’re back to 19th century Taylorism), it is the most common view of change: we are here, we need to get there, let’s plug the gap with a new IT system and a few training courses, job done.
The “contingency model” is a bit better.
Rather than the simplistic certainty of “Ghosts …”, this framework recognises the complexity of organisations and the interdependence of multiple departments, and understands the uniqueness of each context. It then goes on to assume that a goal-orientated change model can be pulled together to suit the particular circumstances.
In other words, it is based on the “synchronicity” between departments that work together in order to reach the desired goal within the unique organisational context – hence I call it the “synchronicity” model.
One problem with it is that it is still filling a gap – albeit with fuzzier edges – with a defined programme of activity.
This might not sound like a problem. It might sound like a project, and therefore A Good Thing. Maybe it is, but as it’s based on rationality, and the false idea of knowing exactly where we are, being able to articulate and measure exactly where we want to go, and having the mechanisms to get there, it’s unlikely to be sufficient.
Ralph Stacey (in Strategic Management and Organisational Dynamics (1996)) made the point that we assume that managers are in control of change, but the reality is not quite so simple.
He identified 8 assumptions about management that don’t cut the mustard when the rubber hits the road. They are essentially around our (in)ability to set stable, clear, measurable goals that are attached to certain future circumstances, and then deliver just the right activity to realise those lovely clear perfect goals.
OK, so it’s getting much harder to crowbar The Police discography into these change management frameworks, but I think I can just about get away with this one.
This is a much fuzzier and people-orientated framework: officially called organisational development or stakeholder model.
It’s about the organisation thinking in medium- to long-term general directions of travel, and creating managed change processes that collaboratively seeks to define the way forward. The process becomes more important than the goal, meaning it is much more flexible and responsive to new information, but it’s also slower and less top-downy which isn’t always what the people above stairs want.
On the plus side, it does take into account stakeholder theory. It understands the competing (and often contradictory) demands of the different stakeholders and assumes that through the right mix of processes, these differences can be overcome.
Yeah right – that always happens.
The “multiple-accountability model” (or Zenyatta Mondatta, which might mean “Top of the World” according The Police FAQ page) is less dewy-eyed on this.
It basically says that the differing demands of interested parties (stakeholders) are not always going to be reconciled, and the way forward is to be clear and open about accountabilities and demands, and manage your way through it.
These frameworks are annoying. They are all inadequate and all lack any tangible usefulness, but they do give us four different views of “change” which can help us:
- First, change is about moving to a desired future state.
- Second, change is about moving a complicated set of interdependent moving parts to a new goal within a unique context.
- Third, change is about people and their competing agendas and interests.
- Fourth, change is political, not everyone will agree, differences are probably (at least partly) irreconcilable.
Change is all of these things – depending on the change, one or more framework might be more or less important, but most change projects will need to understand these four approaches and take the best from each.
In the next post, I will build the model on top of these four basic frameworks.