Change Management: Adapt or go Extinct

Over the years many companies have tried to remake themselves under the banners of TQM, BPR, and Turnaround Strategy etc. But the crux of the matter remains the same; to adapt the business according to changing market dynamics, and this is precisely what change management is.

Managing change is tough, if you’d ask 10 employees of your company to list out the most important factor that needs to be addressed to ensure the change management program succeeds, you are likely to get 10 different answers. In 1996, John Kotter published a seminal article titled “Leading Change-Why Transformational Efforts Fail” in which he claimed that roughly 70% of change management programs fail. 20 years have gone by; the success rate of change management programs still hovers around 30%. In spite of numerous books, journal articles, research and training programs on the topic, little has changed, one would have hoped for better results. This implies that some things are being done incorrectly, the real challenge lies in digging deeper below the surface and identifying flaws in the system while avoiding the pitfalls of traditional change management programs.

This is exactly where a Management Consultant comes into the picture. He/she offers an unbiased perspective on the current processes within the organization and offers workable solutions. One critical approach that consultants provide is that they assign responsibilities to individuals for initiating change and monitor how the change management program is being implemented.

Probably, one of the reasons why change management programs fail is the way the organizations are designed. They are based on structures that demand efficiency and discipline which is administered through a rigid hierarchy and a standardized routine. Hence, there is a mismatch between changing market dynamics and the company’s adoption to the changing environment and most of the change programs end up being catch-up programs. Another misconception among corporate circles is that change management must be initiated by the top management; the fact of the matter is, the top management is often the last to know since they are surrounded by layers of managers that are apprehensive to sound an alarm. The result, the CEO is the last to know about the issues and the change management program is too little, too late. Hence, it is imperative that suggestions from all spheres are encouraged which are radical, nuanced and diverse.

 

For an effective change management program to take place some tinkering to existing processes needs to be done, such as:

Change to be initiated by all levels across the organization

Most change management initiatives follow the top down approach since there are no provisions in place for change to initiate from anywhere else. Hence, for the change programs to be proactive and pervasive change needs to be encouraged from all levels of the organization. This will ensure that every employee is empowered to provide solution that he feels can enhance his line of work.

Genuine commitment from those who’ll be affected (by the change)

As the proverb goes, it takes two to Tango, a change management program cannot bear fruits until the both the initiator and the one affected by the change share a common vision. Both need to be on the same page which will ensure that the transition is smooth & easy. This commitment can be achieved by syndicating the ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of the change being considered and how it will benefit both the participants of the initiative.

Encourage Organic Change

In a world that is constantly evolving, rigid structures would soon become irrelevant. Hence, we must encourage experimentation with new management models and operational models. This should give rise to self-organized communities that’ll brainstorm ideas and scale new initiatives. The idea of having self-organized communities is that employee will have a common platform to put forth their ideas and that’ll make sure that Change Management program has an Organic Growth within the organization. When individuals of an organization have a platform that allows them to express ideas and brainstorm solutions; change comes naturally.

Effective change management initiatives could be:

  • Encouraging employees to tackle organizational challenges that are beyond their sphere of work. This will result in increased employee motivation and a fresh perspective being offered towards tackling organizational problems.
  • Elicit honest and forthright discussion which will yield numerous solutions. This is better than having a single-minded approach. The goal is to divulge and then to converge i.e to widen your horizon before focusing on a specific task.
  • Encourage employees to take responsibility of their initiatives and support them with necessary resources and tools, this will surely spur their imagination.

Guiding an organization towards change is neither quick nor an easy task but it is surely possible. We at Fractional Column have acted as change enabler and have successfully created robust change platforms for numerous organizations. We have enabled the leadership to create an environment where deep and proactive change can happen at any level that’ll inspire the entire organization to tackle the most pressing issues.

 

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