I have a little secret to tell you. If you are a Change Agent it is probably something you don’t want to hear, but I’m going to let you in anyway. Ready? Here it is… your Sponsors don’t care about change management.
I think we can probably all agree the rate of change has increased exponentially over the past few years. Every organization I know (whether it be in business or in healthcare) is working at the speed of light striving to get a competitive advantage, improve their market share, make their operations efficient all while increasing their shareholders’ returns. In order to make all these things happen simultaneously, Senior leaders are attempting multiple complex, large-scale changes at a somewhat alarming rate. No wonder the level of stress across organizations is so high!
Whether it is digital transformation, continuous improvement initiatives such as Lean Six Sigma, culture change or a shared services implementation, the success of any change project depends on the demonstrated Expressed, Modeled and Reinforced commitment of all the managers and leaders who have direct reports that are impacted in some way by the change. This cascade of behavioral Sponsor commitment is the single most important factor in a fast and successful implementation.
With strategic plans in place for 2019, the focus turns to implementation. For many, transformational change will be high on the list. As you look to evaluate resources, you may find yourself needing additional bandwidth. So, you turn to external consultants—whether these are large consultancies or individual practitioners.
On a recent new technology implementation for a major, global corporation our consultants quickly realized the new system was actually one of 60 initiatives that were being launched over an 18-month period. Each individual project had its own project team and although there were interdependencies between the initiatives, the project teams were completely unaware of what the others were doing.
Don Harrison, the developer of the AIM Change Management Methodology, has spent his 40+ year career working with global organizations on how to implement complex change. He specializes in delivering tough messages to senior executives on their role as Sponsors. Not an easy task!
The rate of change in today’s business world is certainly at an all-time high. Everyone we know is racing around at a crazy, fast pace trying to implement multiple initiatives all of which are chasing the same limited resources. This nonstop, whirlwind of activity often makes an organization seem like it’s functioning like a well-oiled machine. (After all if everyone is busy, change management must be happening, right?) But, have you ever stopped to ask yourself what exactly everyone is doing? Are they just spinning their wheels with activity or are they making an actual impact with their actions?
If you are a Next Generation Change Agent, you know what your #1 priority is. It’s not about spending precious time filling out templates and checklists. It’s not about a useless effort trying to eliminate (instead of manage) resistance. And it’s not about communication messages that try to convince Targets that this change will be good for them. For a Next Generation Change Agent, that’s missing the boat!
We’ve all heard the statistic 70% of all organizational change projects fail. This figure was first reported by Hammer and Champy in 1993 and, unfortunately, recent research confirms the staggering statistic hasn’t changed by much. The ugly truth of the matter is today’s organizations are still plagued by projects that are sub-optimized, if not facing outright failure. “Spotty” implementations are all too common with success in one area but not in all areas impacted by the change.
Last week our blog article, “15 Common Mistakes Made by Leadership During a Change -- and What to Do About Them” examined the most common mistakes made by leadership during a change. But, Sponsors are not the only ones who are prone to making errors. Change Agents, who are ultimately responsible for an implementation, can also make some very damaging mistakes along the way.