Change management, innovation, leadership

As you can imagine, I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with changes and challenges faced by industry and business in the fields of change management and innovation. So I’m constantly on the lookout for information and news that may impact behaviour and best practice across organisations.

Here’s a pick of what I’ve been attracted to this week:

Change Management

National Manager, Social Sector Banking at Westpac, Lali Wiratunga, explores some key themes that boards, leaders and their teams should consider for innovation management in the Social Sector. … commitment to the Social Sector. The leaders represented the diversity of the sector: Intrepid Founders, Social Innovators, Employment Partners, Community Builders, Life Savers, Local Champions, Storytellers and Change Makers. …. Australian NFP Wins $100,000.

When skilled change management leaders enter supply chain and operations, companies tend to do quite well. Toyota, for example, rose to prominence through its culture of embracing constant change toward improvement.

A recent POLITICO report on a revolt against Common Core shows that a bottom-up, local approach is an effective strategy against federal programs. From the. Who said creating trouble can’t be an effective way for change management. Sharkonomics.

Reddit today announced that its longtime CEO Yishan Wong is stepping down as leader of the company. … Reddit CEO Yishan Wong resigns in surprise leadership change. Reddit CEO Yishan Wong holding up a gift from …

Innovation News

Online Learning From Innovation Management · Article Library · Research · Channel One Play · Co-creation · Learning Programs … The concept of the JTBD, popularized by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, helps move innovations beyond simply improving current solutions by helping teams to understand what a customer is trying to get done, in a solution neutral way. That is, in consideration of what a customer would want from the problem or …

As innovation reaches out to a larger field in the company, it requires various competences and a specific management.

… and will continue to do so until the end of this year. From the beginning of next year, we will start co-creating our e-book on the Management and Organization of Open Innovation in a joint effort with the MOOI forum members.

Washington, D.C. – Today at a White House ceremony, President Obama will honor the newest recipients of the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. These awards are the highest …

Where My Words Have Travelled

publish around the place from time to time. Here’s the latest:

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are the subject of a lot debate in the blogosphere. Will they be a disruptive technology for universities? Will they take over the trainer’s job in corporate organizations?

From a higher education perspective, it’s easy to see the selling point for students

In 1987 Paul O’Neill became the CEO of Alcoa. Taking over the helm of a company usually means making grand statements about finances, about cutting costs, and change the investment priorities. But what O’Neill did at his first investor press conference was a little different.

To improve productivity in organizations you need only get leaders out in the field

The controversial Koch brothers wrote a book called the Science of Success (2007). I don’t recommend you read it as it’s one of those books that successful people write where they think they were successful because of these management techniques, whereas it’s more likely that because they were successful they could try out these management techniques (fads of the day?).

According to the ASTD’s 2013 State of the Industry Report, U.S. organizations spent $164.2 billion on employee learning and development in 2012. The report does a good job of categorizing and classifying expenditure. But what about ROI? How can managers structure training to ensure a positive ROI?

How often have you rolled out a new IT project that failed to deliver the desired benefits? Most projects fail to deliver benefits because of poor change management. Little to no attention is paid to the people side.

From the Vault

An article on Fortune, interviews Malcolm Gladwell about his much talked about book,Outliers on the theory of how success happens.

Gladwell comments, “We have the kind of self-made-man myth, which says that super-successful people did it themselves. And we have a series of other beliefs that say that our personality, our intelligence, all of our innate characteristics are the primary driving force. It’s that cluster of things that I don’t agree with.”

Over at, Ron Asciding to clean up and throw things out when he had to move office, and as a consequence simplify his life.

The Connection between Personal Change and Organisational Change

The Connection between Personal Change and Organisational Change

Recently I’ve been working with a company that was encountering problems with certain employees during an organisational change program. Most employees were fully supportive of the change, but this support was being slowly eroded by a few highly resistant staff. These resistors were some of the best producers the company had, so it didn’t want to lose them. Management had a quandary to solve: abandon the change altogether (unthinkable), lose the resistors (undesirable), or plough on regardless (unworkable).

Business is personal, even when it changes

When talking to the head of HR, it became apparent that change management had done everything right:

  • It had rolled out the change and explained the need for it.
  • It had involved many people in the process, seeking feedback and acting on that feedback.
  • Senior managers were on board and clearly involved.
  • Sponsorship levels were strong.
  • There was a training program in place to reinforce the new behaviours required.

It wasn’t until we drilled down into the details of each stage that we discovered where the problem lay. The company had put in place a very comprehensive training program which covered all aspects of the organisational change, and the new behaviours required to make the change work. What it hadn’t done, though, was understand that at this level organisational change now becomes personal change.

All businesses rely on their people. Failing to understand that organisational change is all about personal change is a common mistake of organisational change training.

Make training about personal change

For ease of delivery, the company had put in place a blanket training process. While there is nothing wrong with this in its goals, such a strategy fails to realise the unique nature of humans: we learn in different ways. It was the training program which was failing, and below that a level of management which had not been coached to deal with resistance to the change.

While communication of change and progress had been conducted through a variety of media – emails, team meetings, notice boards, special intranet pages, and so on – when it came to training the delivery was to whole groups and in a specific way every time: white board, tutorial style.

Make change reinforcement personal

People learn in different ways. This is one reason why different people gravitate toward others. Understanding the different learning styles is crucial to designing and developing a change management coaching plan that breaks through resistance. No one person will learn with reference to a single learning style, but rather by a combination of styles. Sometimes a learning style will dominate others, while on other occasions a different style will lead.

When coaching people through organisational change, change management must use all learning styles to their advantage. This is a fairly new approach, and completely alien to how many of us will remember being trained. At school, the blanket approach is the whiteboard approach. It is only recently that research is discovering the reason behind many children’s lesser ability is, in fact, preferred learning styles and the failure of education to recognise these.

Personal change needs a personal approach, and as organisations are dependent upon their people, it follows that organisational change needs a personal approach, especially when it comes to change reinforcement and coaching.

Three learning styles that all change managers should know

There are three general learning styles which people use (though these do break down into seven sub-styles). Think of a time when you’ve sat with your team and explained something in detail, only to be met with a blank stare from one of your colleagues. Then you’ve drawn your explanation out in pictures on a piece of paper, and suddenly everyone fully understands what you are saying. This happens because of different learning styles.

Understanding these styles not only makes your message more relevant, but will reduce the time you have to spend on coaching (along with frustration felt by all parties).

Visual learners

These are the people who prefer a visual explanation (as in the example above). These people often create mental pictures, and are able to visualise well. They are good with charts and graphs, and react well to slideshows and projector presentations. You may find their notes rather colourful, highlighted with different colours for different themes. They may even have their own symbols, like some sort of code that only they can follow.

Auditory learners

These people are listeners, preferring to learn from subject matter they can hear. They are better with radio programmes than television, and will probably be vocal in discussing key issues to come to greater depths of understanding. If you have someone that uses digital voice recorders, you have someone who learns by listening. They may listen to books rather than read them, and their learning responds to word associations. Generally good debaters, and will provide feedback and questions in seminars.

Kinaesthetic learners

These are people who learn by doing. Information presented becomes real to them when they get to act it out. Not surprising, these people are good role-players, and react well to in-the-field training. The use of their senses is important to them, and you may find they are doing something else while learning: you’ll find these learners in the gym with headphones on, exercising while revising for an exam.

To make organisational change effectively, make it about personal change

I’ve written many times about making organisational change relevant to the individual by enabling realisation of self-benefits. This comes to nothing, though, if change isn’t reinforced by coaching that is personal, too. This doesn’t mean that all coaching has to be one-on-one (indeed, some people prefer to learn in groups), but it does mean that learning styles have to be recognised and catered for.

Understanding these learning styles not only helps in the change management context. When you understand how best you learn, then personal change becomes a reality and not simply a target.

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To Avoid Change Failure, Keep Change Management Simple

To Avoid Change Failure, Keep Change Management Simple

When John Kotter first wrote about the astounding rate of failure of change, many in change management were shocked. There have been many studies since which have confirmed Kotter’s findings, and plenty written and practiced in efforts to avoid change failure. It’s clear to me that many change programs fail not because of a lack of desire, but because change management over-complicates the plan.

Three principles of effective change management

Often the simplest route is the fastest and most assured. Here are three basic principles of change management that will help you to make effective change:

Metrics and measurement as a change management tool

Change programs that are initiated without a basis will fail. It is not good enough to tell your people that you ‘need to change or die’. What needs to change, and how does it need to change? What results will be expected? The changes you propose should have solid targets for the measurement of their success. For example, if your aim is to win 20 more customers over the next six months, make that the target. People will understand this, and be more able to relate to the changes being proposed.

When John King was appointed as chairman of British Airways, the airline was making huge losses. His target was clear: turn the company from a loss making drag on the national purse into a profitable company that can be floated on the London Stock Exchange. He set out his vision, appointed Colin Marshall as CEO to oversee the strategy, and, as they say, the rest is history.

The target was privatisation, and the measurement of success easy: a successful sale of shares to the public.

Gain widespread support to avoid change failure

King and Marshall could never have achieved their success without the support of the whole company. Communication is the key here. King made sure that he involved every part of the business in change management planning. He created a sense of urgency – change or face extinction – and made change failure an impossibility. Senior and middle managers were brought on board in the process at an early stage, as were unions and workers.

This model was later adapted by Idris Jala at Malaysian Airlines, who set up cross-functional improvement teams of 10 to 15 people. These teams were tasked with finding solutions toward a common goal: reduce losses to zero and build a profitable business. They became the owners of their own individual team change programs within the context of the whole.

Without widespread support, change failure is guaranteed.

Change behaviours to make change stick

People are naturally suspicious of the new, especially when the new flies against well-heeled organisational traditions and customs. It may be that senior management understand the need to change, and those new methods and processes must be put in place, but that doesn’t mean your people will. Enforced change will lead to change failure. The secret to changing behaviours and creating a ‘new normal’ is to communicate effectively and ensure people know what is in it for them.

Coaching change rather than instructing change is the solution to this problem. Allow stakeholders to become involved in the change, with change management and sponsors continually reinforcing by becoming examples of the new behaviours and habits. Use resistance to change as a prompt to discuss and resolve issues, and coach managers in the art of communication and onward coaching.

Make effective change the simple way

Employing these three change management principles consistently will enable you to create an effective strategy for all your change programs. This really is no different to good management practice on any level: set a target and make a plan to achieve that target. The difficult part comes when there is resistance to change. Understanding how to break down barriers and on-board resistors is perhaps the biggest challenge to a change program, and the most common reason for change failure.

When tackling resistance there is no room to be complacent. However, this does not mean change management methods need to become complicated: keeping things simple makes for better strategy, easier planning, and greater acceptance.

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