Change management professionals understand the value of change management and a change management methodology. They know that when you pay attention to the human side of the change, projects can be much more successful. But that isn't always the case for other leaders and colleagues. In fact, one of the most common frustrations is that others "don't get it." As a result, the change management professionals naturally become frustrated.
While there isn't always an easy fix to this situation, one recommendation our change management consultants make is to stop talking about "change management" and talk instead about how you can help get projects done faster, better, and at a higher level of quality by prospectively identifying the risks to projects and applying strategies and tactics to mitigate those risks.
We know analogies are helpful, and one that we like to use is to say that we are setting up a risk dashboard that is similar to the dashboard you have on your car. Just as you have a series of warning lights that come on and off, we also have these kinds of risk identification measures. What's important to understand is that these warning lights are not all of equal value.
For example, when your windshield wiper fluid light comes on, you know that you need to replace the fluid. But it isn't so urgent that you need to stop what you are doing right now to take care of it.
However, if your check engine light comes on, that's an entirely different matter. You need to find out the source of the problem and get it fixed right away.
We explain the AIM (Accelerating Implementation Methodology) change management methodology in the same way. We say, for example, that when we identify a Sponsorship issue we know that we need to address that issue right away. That's because even one Sponsor who isn't demonstrating commitment to the change can cause a breakdown in the cascade of Sponsorship and can lead to what we call a "black hole."
These "black holes" are where projects stall out or fail.
We don't talk about a change management methodology at all. In fact, when we go in front of a group of a leaders to conduct an Executive Briefing we never mention change management or a change management methodology!
We do talk about how we can get their strategic initiatives implemented more quickly and get the intended benefit realization. We know that executives really aren't interested in methodology.
We do talk about how we can eliminate spotty implementations where projects are successful in one area of the organization but not in all areas of the organization. And that we do that with a repeatable implementation process.
We do use the Implementation History Assessment data we collect to identify the specific risks that are culturally embedded in the organization that may create a risk to benefit realization for the change.
We do talk about how the role of these leaders in the implementation and how they control the pace of implementation.
But we do not talk about change management or a change management methodology!
One of the cautions we have for Change Agents who leave our AIM Accreditation programs wildly enthusiastic is that they do not go back to their organizations and talk about AIM. We recommend that they identify a Sponsor who meets the criteria for good Sponsorship and attach themselves to one of this Sponsor's key projects.
Don't talk about AIM or change management or a change management methodology. Just do the work of defining the change in behavioral terms, building the cascade of Sponsorship, setting up an effective localized Change Agent network, managing resistance, developing communications that are two-way, and creating reinforcements.
Stop talking, and start doing.
Focus your energies in small ways and prove the value of paying attention to the human side.