It’s no surprise by now, change is constant and our work environment is challenging people, teams, and organizations to build on a continuous basis their skills in managing change and fostering flexibility.
With what we’ve seen over the past 2 years, today’s business context is in constant flux and can be shaken in an instant. The ability of an organization to change and adapt is an ongoing effort and challenges the status quo where you wait and see to see if the risks around your company will pass. Change must be lived through innovation and it must be continuous and intentional. People who are flexible contribute to an organizational culture of adaptability, and this ability to shift and adjust must be developed for all employees and for teams—ultimately contributing to organizational capability.
But where should you start? Instinctively, you’ll need to start with a strong vision and business purpose for the change. In addition, you’ll need to engage employees. Done well, organizational change management is a significant undertaking and requires investment in people, resources, and time. You’ll need to be aware of the myths that surround change management so that you may avoid investing your efforts in the wrong activities or and being drawn into avoidable organizational pitfalls.
Organizational change is not only about identifying and communicating what the next big changes for your industry will be, but it can certainly help to further assess how ready your organization is to integrate any change before they’ve arrived And it’s hardly any easier knowing precisely how successful any company-wide changes you put in place will be until the overhaul is complete.
That’s where experience can help. Here at Connectiviti, our professionals have accomplished a long list of initiatives and organizational changes during the past few years. Looking back at what we’ve had to address and the strategies we’ve put in place to help people embrace change, it’s clear there are some myths that keep on being told about change that just doesn’t hold up to empirical scrutiny. Let’s start with these five.
MYTH NO. 1: TOO MUCH CHANGE TOO FAST IS DANGEROUS
It is said that the most successful companies actually thrive on change. History consistently repeats itself as we keep seeing companies go through dramatic transformations. When innovation is part of an organization’s core values and when senior leaders understand the importance of building a culture around innovation, those companies tend to do better as a result of making them regularly.
Successful organizations don’t experience business changes as deviations from the norm. Instead, change is an ongoing process and evolution, which helps each new adjustment see more successful outcomes. There may be a choice to make: focus on slow, incremental advances to keep things steady and implement large dysfunctional initiatives or foster a more innovative and invest in a changing culture as the most cutting-edge companies do.
MYTH NO. 2: WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY AND IT WORKS, WHY CHANGE A WINNING STRATEGY?
How many times have you, in different discussions, heard this expression. In this hectic, day-to-day business world, relying on a tried-and-true approach is often a harmless, natural course of action. We rely on what we know and past achievements can easily lead to stagnation.
However we look at it, the core of this progress is innovation. And when companies have the foresight to adapt accordingly, they’re at the center of this change. Look at the speed of technology, techniques, ways of thinking and new cultures evolve.
Adapting change strategies and being focused on listening more than what people have to say in your organization is a way to let new ideas be born and let the organization, from the base, bring best practices and help the organization naturally grow. When companies embrace a culture of change, they optimize their potential.
MYTH NO.3: OUR ORGANIZATION IS LEAN / AGILE, WE DON’T NEED CHANGE MANAGEMENT
The past 10 years have permitted Change management to become its own consulting specialty. We often get approached to help deploy massive IT systems and we see large organizations have their own change management specialists team to assist in lean transformation. We’ve seen a slow but interesting shift in the market where organizations started investing in Lean and Agile coaches to lead initiatives thinking they’ve found a way to justify that it may not be worth the money to invest in a pure change management team. But are they not doing the same mistake by investing in a new trendy approach?
With any large growth unfortunately comes many versions of change approaches based on flawed assumptions, complex steps and transformation models deemed too theoretical. One great example would be Kurt Lewin’s model called the “unfreeze-change-refreeze” model. In an ongoing business world, although the concept is interesting to understand, today’s organizations are in constant flux and can’t afford to freeze anymore. The only way to beat any decline is to develop positive energy from teams of people that create a force greater than the degrading force of entropy.
Does this mean we need to throw away Change Management with the bathwater? We’ve seen new models where even change management practices have incorporated lean into their approach and created lean change. Another day, another model. I think we need to remember the learnings from the past. Keep change strategies and actions simple and focused on helping employees and managers.
MYTH NO. 4: CHANGE ALWAYS COMES FROM THE TOP
That’s quite interesting because all those years of initiatives have taught us that effective change is seldom top-down. Instead, it usually radiates out from an organization’s center and from key leaders. And who plays the biggest part in implementing these changes successfully? It’s usually the unit leaders who sit beneath the corporate level because they best know the landscape and what are the winning strategies to make change happen.
That’s not to say that CEOs and other C-suite leaders can’t or don’t make sweeping visionary changes. They can and do. But when it comes to most of the change initiatives that companies deploy effectively, those top-down efforts are more the exception than the rule. In our experience, we found that implementing a strong governance structure with key sponsors made the difference. See our article 10 attributes that make you an effective sponsor to see how C-suite leaders can make a key contribution to the change success.
MYTH NO. 5: EVERYONE SHOULD GET A SAY ABOUT THE CHANGE AND HOW IT WILL HAPPEN
When it’s effective, organizational change is the result of strategic decisions driven by and aligned with the mission and goals of the business. Based on the strategic nature of these decisions, it is important they are made at the leadership level. This actually supports our view on the role of C-suite leaders as sponsors and champions of change initiatives. Where they may lack in knowing how to best operationalize changes within the organization, they will compensate by being great compasses and helping their teams embrace the vision and the urgency.
Engagement is key to getting people on board and motivated about the change, but this doesn’t mean everyone in the company gets a vote in the overall decision. People should have a voice, but decisions should be made by the people who have access to the strategic vision and the most complete and up-to-date information would you rely on a top senior salesperson who may have a perspective about which new customer relationship management system (CRM) should be implemented, but may not know the nuances of how the CRM contributes to the overall organizational strategy?
We strongly believe that people in your organization need a voice in the change, but every change shouldn’t include the opportunity for a veto by those who aren’t in a position to understand the decision in context. Your change professional will have the opportunity to build that engagement plan and recommend how you can champion change by involving your top leaders in the organization.
In our next article, we will continue to address these myths. They may come from a business perspective where our partners have participated in key organizational roles, or they may have emerged from years of occupying roles in change management and consulting.
Looking for some advice and coaching to see how you can best implement an organizational change approach with your team? Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention the words ‘’let’s address those myths’’ in the title.
Once again, thank you for reading our article and for providing some feedback. We wish you great success in managing your teams during these challenging times.
Connectiviti – Make Change Conscious