Change Management is not one size fits all

blacksmithFar 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.

carpenters-toolsSince 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

Join us at one of our Managing & Leading Change Workshops here or become a Certified Change Agent here.

 

4 replies
  1. Phil Buckley
    Phil Buckley says:

    Rich, so well said. One size of change management does not fit all. Also, a change professional’s learning about the dynamics of change and how to support people through them is never over — his or her diverse and assorted toolbox is never full.

    Reply
  2. Eduardo Muniz
    Eduardo Muniz says:

    How many Change professionals have ever been involved in a whole Change Management deployment cycle? In what capacity (what role(s) did they played?) I am interested

    Keep in mind that you can learn how to deploy Change by Osmosis or by proximity. It takes uch more than just attending a OCM training program

    Reply
    • Rich
      Rich says:

      Thanks for your comments Eduardo. I’ve many change managers lead end to end change deliveries, though usually more in the strategic and organizational levels that IT enterprise changes. I totally agree a training course is not what you need and why I never use the term. I want people to think better and understand the need for change delivery and that is at the core of all my learning workshops. Its not about tools and templates, its about understanding the journey of change and pulling in what you need when you need it to make the change a success

      Reply

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