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Change Management, Simplified (Part I)

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

We've all experienced loss of context when it matters most. The risk of this happening is especially true when the words "change management" are brought up. With different contexts and meanings, it is good to know what change management means in context to a project, program or person's role.

"Change Management" often comes up in conflicting contexts. Because there are multiple meanings to the phrase, it is easy to get lost.

If this is you, know that you are not alone and it is not your fault.

This four-part post will help disambiguate the phrase “Change Management”.

Four common types of Change Management are:

  • Organizational Change Management

  • Change Configuration

  • Project Change Management

  • Program Change Management

Organizational Change Management:

Organizational Change Management (OCM) is widely known as the people side of change. OCM strives to communicate changes happening to a specific group of stakeholders, and mitigate resistance to a change early.

A Brief Case Study in OCM:

In an effort to organize work, a plumbing company decides to modernize and do away with paper work orders. Paper gets lost, and poor penmanship from handwritten communication causes confusion and lost time. Because these problems cost the company money and opportunities with new clients, management makes a decision: work will be managed digitally. Plumbers will be armed with smartphones and tablets to not only receive work orders but communicate with dispatchers and supervision.

What could possibly go wrong?

A lot.

Without OCM, the change effort already has a 70% chance of failure.

In addition to ensuring employees know new procedures, it is important to know if there are objections and assumptions from the plumbers and other stakeholders. Plumbers who are used to paper work-orders are happy to stick to their as-is state and day-to-day behaviors. This group of stakeholders will wonder:

  • What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)

  • Will I be dismissed if I cannot get my head around new procedures?

  • Is management trying to replace me with technology?

  • I work hard already; does this enable management to make me do more and pay me the same?

  • Will the new tablets and smartphones have location services enabled that monitor how long I am in a specific location?

The benefits of a sound OCM Communications campaign helps your organization keep workers in-the-know and feeling less threatened about change. This translates to minimal to zero time away from projects and operations.

A reason this change effort is likely to fail without using OCM: unaddressed change anxiety incites resistance. For plumbers who are used to paper work-orders, a tablet is perceived as a threat to autonomy. Plumbers will talk to peers, who turn their thoughts to a darker, likely fictitious version of management's intent.

When employees are misinformed, uninformed; or, lose trust about how a technology is being introduced, it is natural that anxiety could influence an unproductive behavioral change. OCM consultants have their mind on introducing change to all effected stakeholders, so they have are both informed and consulted.

Does management know that some plumbers are thinking this way? Will plumbers organize a strike? Will they resist passively, like calling in sick on the days of training, or deliberately use social pressure to make this change not work? Businesses should take OCM seriously and hire a consultant to address respective issues properly. OCM addresses change-related issues before they happen by analysis, communication planning, and impact mitigation strategies.

OCM uses various frameworks; some are well known, like Dr. John Kotter’s Eight-Steps of Change and Kurt Lewin's Change Management Model to coach the whole team on how to make a change stick.

For better or worse, professionals often refer to OCM as Change Management. If you wish to keep things clear, refer to Organizational Change Management as "OCM." You will have to be satisfied knowing that someone, not brave enough to ask for clarification, will thank you; if only to themselves.

Next: Change Configuration and other forms of "Change Management"....

Articles referenced:

  1. Brent Gleeson "1 Reason why most Change Efforts Fail"

  2. Mindtools "Kotter's 8-Step Change Model"

  3. Mindtools "Lewin's Change Management Model"

Time to hire an OCM consultant for your change effort?

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Copyright © 2019 - Five Forces Consulting, Inc.

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