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Change Management Q&A

Posted by Hemant Puthli on November 13, 2009

Over the last month or so, I answered a few questions on the LinkedIn network on the subject of ‘Change Management’. The questions and my answers are reproduced below:

What is successful change management?

To evaluate the end, we must go to the beginning.

Good practices in change management require that the criteria for success be established before kicking-off the change program. Things change, of course, and when they do, those criteria need to be reviewed and ‘tweaked’ if (and as) necessary. If this is done diligently, the answer to your question will be self-evident at the end of the change program.

And as to who should spell out the criteria – well, it has to be those who are initiating and sponsoring the change (weighted towards the latter, in case they are different entities / individuals).

This may not always be as easy as it sounds, and the services of a skilled (external?) ‘change agent’ would be required to extract the success criteria out of the minds of those driving the change.

Please share what you believe to be the three most important attributes of a good change management strategy.

A good change management strategy is characterized by:
(1) Clarity of vision and strength of purpose
(2) Inclusion of all relevant stakeholders; alignment of goals; communication
(3) Effectiveness of mechanisms that deal with planning and governance

There could be others, but these would be the top 3 most critical ones, in my opinion.

Today’s challenges for Change Management?

There could be several triggers to the need for change, such as: regulatory imperatives, stakeholder demands, environmental / competitive forces, new leadership / outlook, etc. Each brings with it its own mix of issues and opportunities, but regardless of that, in each case, the organization would be better off building a consensus for change (or at least, a business case) and anticipating and planning for the change well in advance of commencing the journey.

That said, the most common dimensions of impact in any given change programme include:
1. Stakeholders – customers, suppliers / partners, employees
2. Operations – processes, systems, technology / infrastructure

Most challenges could be found in these two areas. People generally do not like change and carrying them along is perhaps the biggest challenge. I don’t think the current economic climate has significantly changed this fact. On the contrary, it has probably magnified the criticality of inclusiveness and communication with key stakeholders.

P.S.

Two things come to mind, which are perhaps unique to our current ‘zeitgeist’ and they are: (1) cultural diversity and (2) economic (job) uncertainty. These two factors make it all the more difficult to bring people on-board toward a change agenda.

The body of knowledge on Change Management is quite vast, but in many ways, these three questions are key to “getting it right”: What is success? What is a good strategy? What are the big challenges? I hope that my answers, though brief, offer a helpful perspective.

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One Response to “Change Management Q&A”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kate Murphy-Childs, H P Associates. H P Associates said: Change Management Q&A: http://wp.me/pAcdh-hN […]

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