Far too many times I have conversations that start by asking what methodology I use for change management. Typically, this comes from a client but sometimes a colleague or connection. It’s as if they think I’ve got the secret sauce and three spoons added into the mix will make it all happen wonderfully well. I’m here today to dash those utopian misconceptions. I’m sorry but anyone who thinks they can use the single same approach to every change event is sorely mistaken and doomed to failure more times than they should.
I have many contacts who are certificated in certain methodologies. It’s great they have these in their tool box, but I worry when that’s all I see. The problem is that I see these practitioners forcing their change events to fit their learned methods no matter what the consequences. It’s very naive to think that the change event can be shaped to fit. Do you really think it wise to start your change with a change effort in itself? Fortunately, they often strike lucky and get a change where their approach works, or at least works well enough to satisfy the required change management needs. But I don’t like relying on luck too much.
In a world of continued complex and disruptive change events we need to be able to build the canvas for change activity that suits the change, flexes with it and guides us through the change event. We need to pick up relevant activities to meet the change needs from across a catalogue of approaches as we deploy our strategy. I strongly advocate that change managers who want to truly deliver successful change, should have multiple methods, models and approaches to hand. If you try and make the change fit your preference, then you are undertaking an unnecessary change management activity in itself. Change Management is a multilayered, holistic practice and cannot be undertaken with a cookie cutter approach.
Since being part of the founding group and as a longtime volunteer, I’ve been an advocate for the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) partly because of the value it places in being methodology agnostic. Subject to popular myth and conjecture it does not recommend any on approach or methodology. It talks to a likely cyclic experience for change in its Standard® but that is about the journey and activities required not the tools you choose to use for each activity; that my friends is for you to choose.
When I created my certified change agent program I was adamant that the credential would not be about a single approach but about understanding the journey and how to successfully navigate it. Of course it also talks to the whole change agency philosophy I believe is a major contributor to the success of change events in organizations.
By the time I completed my graduate program I had dissected 11 approaches in detail and explored many more. It gave me a multifaceted opportunity to ensure I have more than one set of tools. Like any great artisan, who has some old well used tools together with some new ones; some old reliable that get the job done and some others that are only for those tricky action, my toolbox is much the same. This October marks 25 years in the change field for me – scary times! I’ve had an opportunity to collect like crazy, I just hope that others see the same benefits in a diverse and assorted toolbox to have to hand