At the risk of accidentally creating a smash hit for Ed Sheeran, during a recent conversation with a colleague, we came up with the idea of “Changing Out Loud” – consider this post an assertion of copyright!
We were thinking how to meet a need around change leadership in a work situation, and were finding the usual change management models (Kotter, Lewin, Bridges etc.) to be missing the point for what we wanted. This wasn’t change management, it was change leadership, and we didn’t really want leaders banging on about refreezing or creating a sense of urgency or sketching out force-field analysis diagrams, we wanted leaders to be telling us what we’re supposed to be doing, and then showing us that they are doing it too.
I used to get asked to do “change management” on projects that were not change management projects.
This is annoying if, like me, you reallylove doing change management projects, and there are so few opportunities to do really proper change management like those you read about in change management books.
The projects I was asked to work on were often the very opposite of change management projects, they were projects designed to minimise change while something disruptive happened. They were business continuity projects with the aim of avoiding the impact of changes happening elsewhere.
The most common example I was involved in was an office relocation, where you want the impact of the move to have minimal impact on the operation. You might want to take advantage of an office move to improve some things about how you work together, but the point is that they are peripheral, you are not changing how people work in order to improve your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and therefore, although it’s a bit change-management-y, it isn’t really driving transformation of the organisation.
If we look at an organisation’s performance over time (using the KPIs as the performance measure) then a successful organisation will probably be happily motoring around the amber/green lines most of the time.
The purpose of this type of “change management” (i.e. business continuity management) is to keep the Organisational Performance (OP) line as consistent as possible despite being buffeted about by disconnected external factors (i.e. disconnected from the KPIs, and so not central to the performance of the organisation).
I am a little skeptical of all models and theories in business education. They are useful insofar as they provide structure and process, but they are not the be all and end all. This model (from the Open University) is fine, but I find academia increasingly confused when it comes to things as practical as change delivery. They don’t seem to know what to do with themselves.
This is a book that changed my life. It got me interested in things like organisational psychology, change, management, and leadership, things I’d previously never considered worthy of my attention.
Kotter’s main thesis is to set out an 8-step structure for organisational transformation, a structure that maps clearly onto Lewin’s Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze change management model.
The main value in Lewin’s model is the two ends: unfreeze and refreeze, these are the phases that get least attention as most organisations simply rush to change things (without unfreezing) and then fail to embed the new way of doing things in the culture (refreeze).
This is why change management is not project management – the change project is the easy, the bit in the middle, but achieving organisational change is the whole piece.