Tag Archives: people & change

The failure dilemma for change management

The Dilemma

SuccessFailureWhat about the mythical 70% failure rate for change in organisations? This has been searched for quite dilligently in the literature by Mark Hughes; who concluded that although well reported by very respected reporters, there was very little substantial measurement data to support the reports. Hence it becomes an urban myth. The dilemma is: what is the cause of the myth? Is it a myth about performance in doing change (the reality is that the success rate is much higher); or is the cause in the way success (and hence failure) is defined?

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Change Saturation

Too Much Change

firworksMany people in organisations are reporting that they are doing “too much change”. Which usually means they feel they are not able to cope with the changes they are being asked to carry out. To understand what this means we need to look at three forces going on in an organisation:

  • The amount of change the senior managers are asking for (the demand side)
  • The capacity and capability of the organisation to do change (the supply side)
  • The motivation of people in the organisation to do change (the people side)

This note will look at the balance of these forces and see why and how they might be directed.

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Where projects end and change begins

Change adds value to projects

Why do change? In a recent Prosci article the author provides useful questions to elicit the value of doing people change on top of a delivery project. I also find that many people in the project world just don’t get the ‘change’ bit. A large multinational company I have talked to wants to do programme management; but still call it ‘coordinating a number of projects’. They don’t see that the difference between a project and a programme is people change.
Click here to learn about the difference

Change Advocates — a good idea?

The idea of advocating change

Change AdvocateChange advocates both promote change in a business and help protect staff from poor change implementation. They do this by advocating the change on behalf of the business and being a channel between affected staff  and senior managers. The role demands trust and respect from both staff and managers; here is how it works.

The problem the Change Advocate role tries to solve is how to get buy in to major changes where the change is managed by a central Change Team. We have worked with Cheshire West and Chester Council to help implement this concept. The project is now on the shortlist for an Award at the Training Journal Awards.

The Change Advocate Role

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWCC) realised that centralised project management was efficient for doing change but tended to cause resistance from the front line staff so it was not as effective as it should be. The Change Advocate is a member of front line staff (manager or worker) who is trained and supported in delivering change. They have two aspects to the role which each advocate needs to balance.

Promoting Change

The Change advocate promotes the proposed change to front line staff. They communicate directly with affected staff about the change, using communications skills they have learned on training. Advocates expect to be involved in planning change; stakeholder engagement is key to successfully designing an effective and acceptable change. With prior engagement, selling a change to staff is much easier. Advocates will be involved in rolling out the change, continuing the communication. They will lead in solving problems in a way that both reduces risks to the benefits and increases the confidence of staff in the changes.

Promoting the interests of staff

Change advocates are themselves affected by the change they are promoting so they have a vested interest in a successful and acceptable change. They have the ability to put the staff side of an argument (with the central change team) to senior managers and advocate on behalf of staff. Very often this role leads to more creative solutions to change problems which are based on reality.

What makes an Advocate?

An advocate needs to be self motivated (and is usually self selecting as a volunteer). They need the trust and support of the staff they are working with. Often the basis of this trust is both a transparent approach to work and knowledge of the front line based on experience. They also need to be able to talk directly to senior managers as peers in problem solving change issues. In many organisations this can be challenging. CWCC are working hard to create a culture of support and challenge to make these conversations easier all round.

Supporting Change Advocates

In creating the first cohort of Change Advocates, CWCC worked with us to support the role with three specific components:

Networking

It is very important for an individual advocate to realise they are not alone and that others are having similar difficulties. Regular networking events with the opportunity to share experience and problems are essential. CWCC held networking events every month for the whole cohort. These were carefully timetabled with time to chat and share, as well as more focused discussions and learning sound-bites to reinforce training associated with identified problems.

Problem solving

The cohort were randomly allocated to small Action Learning Sets. The purpose of these was threefold:

  • To train the cohort in a specific supportive problem solving technique.
  • To provide the basis for ongoing collaboration with a small group of colleagues across the Council.
  • As further networking, but on a smaller, more intimate, basis.

The Action Learning Sets were initially facilitated to establish the format and procedures. After a few meetings they became self facilitating.

Training

A short training course on some soft skills for change was used to introduce the concepts of people change and effective communication recognising individual preferences. Change Advocates then took a vocational Level 4 assessment to achieve a qualification in Managing Change from C4CM.

About You

How is change organised in your organisation to make effective and efficient use of resources to deliver beneficial change? Comment in twitter and let us know. @C4ChangeMgt

Making change personal

Using change to grow yourself

personal development in an Action Learning SetIn the April 2014 Harvard Business Review I found a paper about creating a very open culture to encourage personal learning by Robert Kegan, Lisa Lahey, Andy Fleming, and Matthew Miller called “Making Business Personal“. The starting premise of the paper is that ’employees do a second job that no one has hired them to do: preserving their reputations, putting their best selves forward, and hiding their inadequacies from others and themselves’. This putting forward the best side, hiding the other side and hiding information about problems is a major cause of change failure and has been discussed in this blog in terms of reporting and Government Blunders.

Click here to see how to make it work for change