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

In this regard, an important factor will be whether the leadership and the people can together focus on the long term and persevere over a long haul with policy changes which are right and correct but slow acting, or will they …

Change in the way governments work, in the way they interact with the outside world, in the way they think about providing services and information to citizens. This new world order requires new kinds of leadership, and it is striking how much …

If your answer is “yes,” then you’ve bought into the final solution. And if you’ve been prepared on what to expect, who’s going to do what, and what you can do to play a part in the success, then the Change Management plan …

Paper, spreadsheets and email are often used throughout the product development and engineering change management processes. These tools can wreak havoc when product information is released into production.

Innovation News

As a leader, it’s not your job to be the most creative person in the organization, nor to be the most innovative person in the organization. Your job is to structure and organize the entire process, to support, guide, manage, and …

Innovation will be on display at this years Foodservice trade show held at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Centre between the May 31 – June 2nd. Exclusively held for those in the restaurant, catering and bakery sectors, the …

In recent years we’ve developed amazing new technologies that give us the ability to identify a person’s entire genetic code for as little as $US1,000 in less than a day. Yet many wonder exactly what we’ve gained by mapping …

SAP has expanded its flagship youth innovation program, the Young ICT Explorers (YICTE) competition, across six states and territories to meet the increasing appetite for technology innovation among young Australian …

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

Last week McKinsey Quarterly posted an interview with Jim Owens, the recently retired Chairman of Caterpillar. The interview highlights how Caterpillar embraced strategic agility to navigate the financial crisis, and emerge a still stronger business.

Strategic agility is all in the thinking. A key component of maintaining strategic agility is to think better. It’s not known as strategic thinking for nothing.

Seven Steps to Counter Resistance to Change

Seven Steps to Counter Resistance to Change

On your organisational change journey, there is almost a cast-iron guarantee that your change efforts will meet with some resistance. How your change management leads the process of change will determine final outcomes and success of your change efforts − and resistance management is central to effective change management. Here I look at seven steps that a change leader can take to counteract resistance to change.

1. At the outset of change, people are disbelieving

The initial announcement of a change initiative is the starting gun for resistors to bolt from their blocks. This is the point at which change management needs to spring into action. People will naturally ask, “Why do we need to change?”

Create urgency for organisational change by discussing need, highlighting the ways in which the organisation is falling behind its competitors and how the change efforts will address this. If the business can’t compete, that’s bad for individuals and teams (not just management and the ‘suits upstairs’).

Be balanced in response to disbelief of the need for change, highlighting negatives and positives.

2. A failure to hit the ground running

Less overt resistance is the potential lethargy caused by a lack of clear leadership. People need to be given direction in the change, with explanation of new duties and behaviours expected. Fail to do this and change efforts will immobilise very quickly.

The change leader should ensure that senior managers are seen as examples of the new ways. This will help guide people in the direction needed, setting the environment for organisational change.

3. Questioning progress

Another common form of resistance is that of questioning progress made. Things are changing, but how do people know they are on the right track? Sometimes, a change in process will necessitate what appears to be a step back in order to move forward, and the seemingly bad results will be held by resistors as proof that the change will not work.

Change management planning should include communication of expectations along the way. Don’t let there be room for surprises, and let people know what results are expected throughout the organisational change journey. Put in place tangible measurements of success, which change management can point to as proof of progress.

4. Denial of the need to change and anger with the change

With any shortfall in expected outcomes, the doom-and-gloom merchants will be at their most vocal. They’ll be saying that they don’t really think the change will happen, and that things will need to revert to ‘the norm’. Resistance will gain support, empowered by the anger encouraged by resistors.

Set up lines of communication, training, and individual coaching. Employees may need their hands held to overcome any negativity. Reinforce the reasons for the change efforts and the future vision at every opportunity, be clear and precise, and let people know that the path to the future is never smooth and that some difficulties are envisioned.

5. Reversion to the old ways of working

There will be a reluctance to do things in a new way. You might be attempting to change decades of doing things a certain way, and the reversion to how things were done previously is a natural human reflex. Think about the way a smoker who tries to give up can be easily tempted to smoke again. Old habits die hard, as they say.

Continue with coaching and reinforcement strategies, making sure you example how people’s lives will change for the better. Work will become more efficient, there will be less stress, and a lower need for overtime that disrupts the social lives of individuals. Encourage people to think about the benefits they will receive upon successful organisational change: answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

6. Depressed at the slow pace of change

Organisational change takes time, and for some this may be at a pace too slow for their liking. They want the benefits of the change efforts yesterday! This can lead to a depressed workforce, questioning why the change was ever started in the first place.

Reiterate the positive results to date, and how far you have come on the change journey. Let people take greater ownership of the change process by encouraging deeper involvement and rewarding good results. Use one-to-one sessions to invigorate individuals and ensure they understand their role. Ask them to define their own responsibilities, and encourage them to push harder.

Don’t give up. Review resources, and maintain momentum as you gather a head of steam towards the finish line.

7. Don’t let acceptance of change be the end

The final step is to make the change stick. Just because you have reached the finish line, does not mean the job is done. The future vision that is now in place will remain precarious if you take your foot off the pedal. The lap of honour is the time to reiterate the need for change, the benefits being seen, and the critical nature of the new behaviours to the future success of the organisation and the individuals who work for it.

Remember: you may have replaced decades of culture with a new culture and it may take a whole new generation of workers to be fully accepted as “the way we do things around here.”

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How to Create the Conditions for Rapid Change

How to Create the Conditions for Rapid Change

The wisdom of change management vs. the need for rapid change

Change management wisdom states that real change comes only when the culture of change is embedded within an organisation. But what if you find that markets or circumstance dictate that rapid change is required?

The need for rapid organisational change doesn’t have to come with a warning sticker – when executed correctly, rapid change can invigorate an entire business, reset focus, and drive revenue and profit at breakneck speed.

Speed: the change management challenge

Organisational change may be required by crisis, environment, merger, or any number of other factors. Most often, a paradigm shift takes years, as previous complacent culture is replaced by a new culture of change. However, there are times when radical change is not only desired, but imperative.

The question of how to make rapid change is one that has many executives bouncing off the walls. A more measured and slow pace of change allows the change management team to quietly and confidently adapt approach, as the culture of change beds in. To make rapid change effectively, the change management team needs a structure that creates rapid momentum and then concentrates its focus on speed as it produces significant and enduring organisational change.

Searching for rapid change

In its formative years, Google had no real business model. It meandered between functionalities as it searched for its niche, the epitome of a directionless and unprofitable company. In those early years, it found marginal success by selling search applications to businesses and developed technologies to other search engines.

Then it launched AdWords. The focus of the company changed almost overnight. No longer was it a developer of search resources; it became an advertising giant leveraging off its search capabilities. This paradigm shift of its business completely changed its fortunes: within five years, Google had gone from an unprofitable could-be, to a company generating more than $20 billion in annual advertising revenues.

Focus on conditions, not process

Rapid change is hampered most by cultural inertia. The real challenge for change management is to jump this hurdle and create momentum. Like a snowball rolling down a mountain, organisational change can gather pace and grow. If the change management team can generate speed by creating urgency, organisational status quo is disrupted. While there is a process for executing successful organisational change, environment is what allows that change to happen: the snowball needs a push, it needs a cool temperature, and it needs the right sort of snow that sticks as the snowball grows in size.

Create the conditions for rapid change, and rapid change will happen.

Condition your company for effective rapid change

When working with clients that need to change at speed, I look for ten conditions to be met, created, or developed:

  1. Diagnosis of need − what are the requirements of the business, and how does it need to change?
  2. Early communication and shared ownership − create and communicate the vision, and set the measurements of success through milestone achievements. Plan the process of rapid change.
  3. Ensure frequent checks on progress and instigate a ‘Review and Revision’ policy.
  4. Create a sense of urgency, emphasising the need for change and reinforcing the future vision.
  5. Create focus by concentrating the change initiative on predefined priorities.
  6. Enable rapid decision-making by delegating the process of change down through a flatter hierarchy.
  7. Create commitment by early recognition of change sponsors.
  8. Deal with resistors promptly, eliminating negativity and ensuring momentum.
  9. Ensure that performance is rewarded accordingly, and publicly recognise champions of change.
  10. Remain committed to leadership of the organisational change, with senior executives demonstrating the new behaviours as tangible outcomes are evidenced.

Prepare for personal change as well as organisational change

I focus predominantly on organisational change management, but many of the challenges and conditions for change also hold true in the personal sphere. Next time you feel pressured, stressed, or challenged in your professional and personal life, move the goalposts by changing deadlines. Prioritise tasks and move end dates forward and back. Giving more time on less urgent tasks helps reduce exhaustion, while reduced time on other tasks creates the sense of urgency that drives momentum.

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