“One key reason why implementation fails is that practicing executives, managers and supervisors do not have… a good understanding of the multiple factors that must be addressed, often simultaneously, to make implementation work.” [Fevzi Okumus]
Change management is a messy business fraught with complexity and many things that can, and usually do, go wrong. This is reflected in the 70% failure rate of all change initiatives.
Underlying the many things that can and do go wrong, are a number of related factors:
# The over-emphasis on process rather than people
# The failure to take full account of the impact of change on those people who are most impacted by it
# The lack of process to directly address the human aspects of change
# A lack of clarity and lack of communication
# The lack of a language and contextual framework to articulate and manage the necessary processes of change
# Failure to address the energy and emotions associated with change
# Failure to understand the difference between “new capabilities” and “realised benefits” [and why it matters]
# Failure to understand and apply the “business as usual” test to establish whether it is “incremental change” or a “step change” [and failing to understand why this matters]
To navigate these pitfalls and achieve a successful change initiative requires attention to 3 key domains, namely:
(1) Leadership that directly addresses the transitions and emotional dimension of those impacted by the change, and provides inspirational motivation.
(2) A change model and methodology that covers “the multiple factors that must be addressed”
(3) Action management that shows and assists people with the specifics of exactly what is required of them.
Here is a brief Practitioners’ Masterclass highlighting key themes within these 3 domains.
Change initiatives need to be led and managed. The major failure of leadership in most change initiatives is that there isn’t any!
What is required is leadership that recognises the importance of the emotional dimension, and specifically that understands the 2 levels of change impact:
(1) Organisational change – new processes, procedures and structures
(2) Personal transition – emotional and psychological
Most change initiatives employ methods that ignore the emotional dimension of the personal transition. Ignoring the transition is a major cause of change resistance and change failure. Leading your people through this transition is as important as managing the organisational change
Leadership that is capable of addressing these factors requires high levels of emotional intelligence – which is frequently not evident in senior executives.
So, for any business leaders reading this I will say this: “Your level of emotional awareness – and the extent to which you embrace and harness the emotional dimension of your organisation – is directly linked to change success and ongoing organisational performance.”
Culture can be defined simply as how people behave within a group context.
Organisational culture is the single biggest determinant of how an individual will behave within an organisational environment. Culture will over-ride education, intelligence and common sense
So, you cannot make a successful step change [and realise the benefits] without changing your organisational culture
To change the culture you need:
(1) To identify it and understand it
(2) A framework and language to communicate it
(3) Tools and processes to change it
Change models and methods
“A good understanding of the multiple factors that must be addressed” is arrived at with a change model and methodology that bridges the gap between the high level “big-picture” strategic vision and a successful implementation at the front-line. There are a number of change models that are popular and frequently used, notably John Kotter’s “8 Step Change Model” and the Prosci “ADKAR Change Model”. These, and other models, have great merit and provide a structured focus to the management of a change initiative.
The difficulty with these and most established change models is that, quite understandably, they tend to cover one major aspect or dimension of the totality of what is involved. That does not invalidate any specific model and supporting methodology, but it does leave gaps.
The main specific criticism that can be made of most of these models is that they are tactical and project focused; they are not strategic and they are not sufficiently holistic and broad in scope to fully address the human factors that are the commonest causes of failure.
There is currently not a change model that sits between the leadership dimension and the strategic review process, and the lower level of project and task-level management and implementation.
Programme level implementation
For this reason, I have adapted some of the core concepts and processes of programme management added a preliminary cultural analysis combined with a pre-programme review and planning process utilising my EEMAP process©, and I offer these to you in the form of a simple, programme-based model, designed to fill the strategy-project gap.
In summary, my programme-based model is designed:
# To facilitate the key thought processes that are necessary for a successful change initiative
# To support the leadership processes outlined by Kotter, Bridges Transition Model and to provide a framework and context for the project / task level ADKAR model
It has 5 main objectives:
(1) To bridge the gap between vision and implementation
(2) To ensure that the “cultural analysis” and “pre-programme review and planning process” do take place
(3) Clarity about how and why things will be different after the change
(4) To identify, assess and mitigate the impacts of the change on all those who will be affected by it
(5) Ensure that the envisaged organisational benefits are realised
Task level implementation
A common mistake that many managers make is to assume that because they have told people what they want to happen then it will happen. It won’t!
Although people will hear what you say when you outline your vision and strategy, and will probably agree with you, at the individual level, most of them are not able to translate it into productive purposeful action.
People are very different in the ways they process information, interpret life, and in the ways they are motivated. This is not because they are stupid, and does not necessarily mean that they are resistant to your vision and strategy, but it does often mean that the jump from vision and strategy to practical implementation is too big for them to make – without support.
This means that managing change, at the task level, requires hands-on detailed management [micro management on occasions] in the specifics of what to do and how to do it. This is especially necessary during the early stages.
As change leader, it really is your responsibility not to make assumptions, and to “grind out” and communicate those actionable steps.
So often, this just doesn’t happen. Leaders don’t lead and managers don’t manage. It is assumed that: “they’ve been told what to do and they’ll go away and do it”. Wrong! It is assumed that there isn’t time and it isn’t necessary to take the time to translate the ideas communicate those actionable steps. Wrong again!
It is up to you to define and communicate those actionable steps, and to manage your people through the process of implementing and integrating those steps as the new modus operandi.