How often people are quick to embark on a change and take immediate actions. But how do they know what needs to be changed that will deliver the desired outcomes. Is it based on clear evidence or what they just happen to believe is the root cause of the current situation that they want to change.
For example, how many people do you know who are trying to loose weight and keep investing time and money on the next diet or a trainer or equipment that will finally deliver the slim body they have been after. And yet they success either never happens or happens only for a short period of time before the end up worse than when they started – their weight just comes back!
Same happens at work when the next super IT system, or the most optimised process, or an excellent training course or the expensive communication campaign or the next team of consultants will deliver the desired outcomes and get people to adopt new ways of working. And then, just like the weight loss, the problem is still there and in trying to change others you have upset them even further. And you have more failed project in the corporate memory and reputation that has diminished even more!
So what is the solution you might be asking right now. Well, before the solution, define what is the problem and what is causing it. But know the main causes or the root cause is not enough to fix the problem. More evidence gathering is needed to find out why the problem has survived so far? What are the benefits of the current situation? What do people have right now that they will loose when the change finally happens? What new problems may arise when you solve the current problem?
changes that involve or at least impact people and environment, and most do, need holistic change management that looks at the change from all angles through every one’s eyes and perspectives.
No change happens in total isolation where all parameters are known. Changes often happen alongside other changes that may or may not in your control. So assessing the nature and impact of your changes and also who and what is changing? How ready are the people or the environment is for change is extremely important.
A project manager that and other experts that you hire at work to deliver your change, an IT system or new process, strategy, organisational design or infrastructure will deliver exactly as per the specifications. But change management as a process will look at the products to see if they are fit for purpose. And purpose here is used in its wider meaning i.e. not that the new system processes they transactions and delivers the right reports but how does it help to support peoples actions and behaviors that eventually deliver desired results. Has the system been able to create the collaboration or knowledge sharing that was not happening in your organisation despite reasoning with the employees in the past?
Often system, process, policy, training or communication is considered enough to create new behaviours or getting people to do what they are not doing right now. Often it is assumed that people are not doing things due to lack of ability or tools. But time and again it is lack of a culture, role models or incentives that serve as barriers to the right behaviors.
People often do what they see people like them are already doing. We as a species are excellent at copying. Hence the most independent individuals who rebel against the norm eventually find like minded people and then establish their own norms, way of speaking and dressing and rituals.
That’s where management practices need to be combined with behavior science to deliver the desired changes and outcomes.