Last week Don Harrison, President of IMA and developer of the Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM), held a free webinar on what he likes to call “Next Generation Change Management” where he discussed his view of what needs to change about change management. The topic was one of our most popular ever and the discussion he led was truly thought provoking.
We thought we’d use this week’s article to recap some of Don’s expert advice about how change management is changing and what we, as change management practitioners, can do about it.
Change Management is Not Something “To Do”
One of the most troublesome trends Don sees in the change management discipline is the false notion that change management is simply a commodity. While working with organizations worldwide on change projects both large and small, Don stills hears too many Executives who say things like, “We need some of that change management stuff.” These are the same leaders who send their teams to change management training and then watch as they come back armed with loads of checklists and templates and try “to do” change management.
It’s a vicious cycle, because once the Executive sees there is a lot of activity going on, they think change management is happening, so they check it off of their list of things to do. But, unfortunately, with the volume and complexity of organizational change at an all-time high, anyone who thinks change management is something that can be done and checked off their list is wrong.
The ultimate goal of a change management model should not be to fill your day with a lot of meaningless activity, but instead to know what to do and when to do it. It’s why Don built the AIM Change Management Methodology around 10 core principles that act as a guide on what you should be doing given the day-to-day project realities and challenges.
Make an Impact: Leverage Sponsors Not Targets
If you are a Change Agent working on a complex, transformational change and have a pre-planned meeting with your project team, but your Sponsor offers you 15 minutes of their time, which should you choose to do? We hope you answered you would spend time with your Sponsor!
The behavior of Sponsors is the most important factor in a fast and successful change, so getting your Sponsor to do what is needed is the most most important action you can take. At the beginning of a change project, you should focus on looking up the power structure before looking down. Rather than spending time trying to convince the Targets (those individuals who will be impacted by the change) of the logic and rationale for a change, Change Agents should spend more time leveraging their Sponsors to be actively Expressing, Modeling and most importantly Reinforcing the change with their direct reports.
TIP: The "secret sauce" in getting things done during a change is a Change Agent’s ability to "contract" with a Sponsor for what they need. We spend a lot of time teaching the skill of Sponsor Contracting in our AIM Accreditation Change Management Certification program because it is so critically important!
Change Management for the Real World
In the real world, there will never be the full complement of resources needed to implement a change. Why? Because, first, no change occurs in isolation. There are always other projects going on within the organization competing for the same resources. Second, there are always three competing frames of references surrounding resources:
- Sponsors who want the job done fast and cheap
- Change Agents who have a more realistic idea of what is actually needed
- Targets who would like to see as many resources as possible spent to make the change easy
Who is going to win in this scenario? The Sponsors, of course. They ultimately hold the power within an organization. That is why Don says change management is an exercise in power and politics and not in completing templates. Change Agents must have the right relationship with both the Sponsors and the Targets of a change to be able to manage the expectations of both groups of people.
Next Generation Change Management is not a package or a skill that can be purchased. It is not communication, slide decks or end-user training. Next Generation Change Management is all about utilizing the limited resources you have to get the maximum amount of benefit for your implementation in the shortest amount of time. In other words, making an impact with your actions. The Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) is designed with this concept in mind. It’s ready for the Next Generation of Change Management. Are you?