What is change management?

So how do we define change management....?

What is change management? 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.

    Key findings in the latest report show that:

    (1) The top activity that project teams would do differently on the next project is more effective change management.

    (2) Teams whose projects were driven or heavily supported by top management were more likely to complete their project at or above expectations.

    (3) Participants overwhelmingly indicated that the planning stage, where scope and roles were set, was the most important phase in the project.

    (4) Resistance to change within the organisation was cited six times more often than any other as the number one obstacle to successful implementation.

What is change management - incremental change or step change?

In this site- and especially in this section considering the question "what is change management?" - I draw the distinction between: incremental change, and 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:

    "I think you've got to define what you're trying to change from and to.

    I think I've worked with lots of HR professionals in lots of organisations and the mistake they'll consistently make is 'we need to change the culture' or 'we need to create different values' or 'change behaviours.'

    And I think what they have to do is to try and articulate 'why?'. And I think that's the bit that brings it alive for our people, it's the understanding of why they need to change their behaviour, why they need to do their job differently."

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].

(2) Providing good leadership.

(3) Using a programme-based approach.

(4) Thorough planning and pre-programme review.

(5) Addressing the cultural issues.

Managing change within "Business as Usual"

What is change?

Return to top

Home Page


EnglishChinese (Traditional)FrenchGermanItalianRussianSpanishVietnamese

practitioners masterclass,change management training,change managers,change management

practitioners masterclass,change management training,change managers,change management