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Can change be managed?

When change initiatives become an exercise, we approach intellectually only taking the mind along for advice, they normally fail. When a step by step plan with catchy headlines is the guiding star in a big reorganization or technical change implementation the organization is typically lost along the way.

And yet, this is the approach organisations take over and over again. The result is that the change is not anchored or fully assimilated in the organizational infrastructure.

Change management practices have been around since the sixties. Many different definitions and models exist but in substance they are created over the same recipe. Make a plan, communicate the change, engage the organization and implement the change. And still we know that majority of all change initiatives fails.

Einstein is credited with saying: ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’

Are we insane to believe that a change management model can do the magic? Can change simply not be managed?

As I see it we need to disrupt the traditional change models a little. We have to focus more on purpose and people throughout and even before the change process starts. Consultants often set out 3 flows when working with Organisational Change Management (OCM): Process, People and Technology. I agree that process and technology are fundamental elements in change, but I would argue that we have to give more attention – holistic attention - to the People part and add a Purpose stream in the equation.

Looking a bit more at the organizational health initially to create a change plan with more empathy and consideration for the emotional side of a change, is in my view a necessity for success.

My advice is to start with an organizational readiness assessment. Getting a feel for where the organisation is right now in terms of change readiness. This early involvement will make it possible for the employees to raise their concerns and for the management to carefully plan and consider all change costs in the potential business case.

An organizational assessment should look at Culture, Organisation, Competences and Leadership. With that valuable information at hand, you can start the planning of a change process that is customized to the organization and its current state. You can also take the organizational health into consideration and planning with empathy and heart to change, not just an identified physical behavior but also the mindset and culture, that will actually make the change stick.

Need a review of your current plans for change?

Our change model works at all levels of the organizational pyramid. Traditionally we focus on the activities that we are changing. To really make a successful change implementation, businesses need to work with the mindset, the emotions and the values of the organization.

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