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What is and what isn’t Change Management?

If you would ask three change managers what is part of change management and what not, you would get three different answers. A clear and simple answer to the question ‘What is Change Management?’ or ‘What are the components of Change Management’ is not easy to find, if it even exists. The reason for that is that managing change isn’t something readily available out of the box, but it is influenced by factors like organizational culture, the maturity of the company, the size of the change, previous experiences with change, individual preferences of the employees,…

Writing an article about the 5 aspects of change that would benefit every change effort would be very hard and, ultimately, not entirely true. So let us start by investigating what change management isn’t.

What it isn’t

A linear process

Change Management isn’t a linear process – creating a plan at the beginning of the project and following up on this rigorously. Rather, it is a cyclical process, repeatedly measuring the change climate and which requires continuous attunement to the current situation and adjusting the strategy as needed.

A communication strategy

Although a well thought through communication plan is an important part of a change implementation, it is not everything. Just because you communicate the right message to the right people at the right time, preferably through the preferred channels, it doesn’t mean that people will be on board. Just think about large-scale health campaigns promoting healthy behavior and how people, while having all the necessary information, choose for unhealthy patterns. Communication alone is not enough.

A training framework

Of course, an important part of preparing people for change is building the right skills. Where generally a lot of attention is given to determining who needs to be trained in which skills in order to make sure that the targeted people are ready for the changed processes and systems, this end-user training will quite likely not generate the feeling of competence that is needed for a successful change implementation. Important factors such as motivation, understanding the why and how of the change, confidence, etc play an equally important role as the right functional and technical skills.

A set of templates and tools

It is commonly known that organizations pay a lot of money hiring in external change managers who bring in their own checklists, tools and templates. Thinking that if you have the right tools and cross off some points on checklists that the organization must be ready. Unfortunately, however fancy the given templates may be, not being supported by a strategy and attuned to the given situation and circumstances may well render it an empty investment.

What it is

So what is change management then? What do we know, and how can we create and use a framework applicable to different situations?

Managing change is, in essence, managing resistance in people. We as human beings are hardwired to resist change, parts of our brain that control our feeling of safety consider every change as a possible threat. The known, no matter how imperfect, will automatically be preferred to a new and unknown path. The knowledge of basic psychological principles like this, but also for example the components of motivation or what people need to feel confident, form the basis of a change framework that incorporates the people-side of change. As it is still the case that change happens one person at a time, we believe that this human side of change is the core of successful change management.

Upon these basic principles, we build a framework that starts from the strategic choices the individual organization makes. Making sure the goals and objectives for the project are clear and strategically incorporated in the company, it is Change Management that will then define how to reach that goal. Managing the transition from a former state to a future state, while keeping focus on the strategic choices made and attuning constantly to the current environment – of course by being in contact with that environment – is the core of Change Management. Which tools, components, templates or subprocesses are needed during this change process is not defined in advance, but tailormade to the specific situation.

How can we help?

The Canguru Change Approach has been built by organizational psychologists, in such a way that we take the human side of change into consideration during the entire process. Only evidence-based theories and practices are incorporated, rather than making general assumptions about human behavior. It is a cyclical approach, with repeated measurements and evaluations, making sure that the entire transition process is tailored to the current situation and can be adjusted when needed. As a starting point, we take the strategical goals and objectives of the company and the project, making sure that every step we take helps you reach those goals.

Contact us if you want to learn more about our approach and how we can guide you through your transition.

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