It is about how you take an organisation from Position A to Position B, in the fulfillment or implementation of a vision and a strategy and the whole art of it is to how to carry your people with you, so that the envisaged benefits of the vision and strategy are actually realised.
The discipline of change management has evolved from 2 quite different sources.
(1) The process driven approach originating in time and motion studies and more latterly business improvement.
(2) The people driven approach drawn from the human sciences' insights into human reactions to situations of imposed organisational change.
Given the popularity of Business Process Engineering - especially in the aftermath of the last recession - it is extremely interesting to note that Michael Hammer co-author of "Reengineering the corporation" has more recently described the people side to change as "the overwhelming issue".
Research findings and lessons learnt
Prosci, who describe themselves as "the recognised leader in business process design and change management research", are the publishers of "Prosci’s Best Practices in Business Process Reengineering and Process Design" which is based on research with 327 organisations world-wide.
The objective of this study is to provide real-life lessons from the experiences of project teams recently or currently involved in business process reengineering projects.
What is change management - incremental change or step change?
This is extremely important as you define change management in the context of your organisation.
The reason this is so important is because people are stressed, tired and generally fed up with change initiatives.
They need careful and detailed explanation of what is change management - why the proposed change is necessary, and the direct effects on them and the benefits to them. They need help and practical support.
As an illustration of this - I was involved with an NHS Trust recently, and contrary to the board's initial perception of the reason for the apparent resistance and reluctance of senior clinical staff to embrace an initiative, the simple truth was that clinical staff did support the board's intentions - but they didn't have the time or energy to handle it.
What was needed was someone to own the initiative full-time and to "formally" recognise that this was a specific step change initiative that needed to be handled outside of hospital "business as usual".
People need to know WHY they need to change
In an interview with Kevin Green, People and Organisation Development Director, Royal Mail, he was asked what is change management and [on the basis of his considerable experience of change management] what was the key thing that smaller organisations needed to consider when embarking on a change initiative and seeking to define change management in a SME context:
The full interview with Kevin Green was recorded on 9th Jan 2007 and is available as a podcast
what is change management
at The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development [CIPD].
John Kotter On The Impacts of Change
Key success factors
So, what is change management - but the careful focus on these key factors:
(1) Clarity as to the nature of the change [step change or incremental change].