At Delivery Consulting, we view change management as being central to project, programme and portfolio management. Without change management, projects, programmes or portfolios are at risk of failing to create the lasting value that is expected from them.
To us, “change management” is not the traditional IT definition of managing changes to some aspect of an IT configuration. Change management is a lot - lot - bigger than that.
Change management is about the challenge of helping individuals adapt to and fully adopt the changes delivered by a project or programme. By helping individuals change, the larger objective is usually to change an organisation’s culture, accepted practices and standard behaviours. It is about challenging expectations, changing rules, and can, ultimately, create a “new” organisation.
An absence of change management is one of the key reasons why so much change (project and programme) activity fails to result in the benefits that are anticipated. Changes are not embedded. Behaviours are not changed. The project is soon forgotten and organisational life returns to normal.
Change is more effective when done with, rather than to.
We hold - and work to - some rather old-fashioned beliefs.
Not for us is the mantra of “if you can’t change the individual, change the individual”.
Indeed, we’d rather say that “if you can’t change the individual, you’ve failed”. And we don’t like to run the risk of failure.
We believe that change is best achieved by working with those affected, rather than trying to do it unto them. How a change is presented, explained, communicated and supported by those initiating it has a significant impact on how it is received by those affected by it and thus whether it is believed, accepted and supported. Or resisted and thwarted.
Change management could perhaps be better called change leadership as effective change managers need to be very effective leaders rather than merely good managers. Rather than ignoring or shouting-down objections to change proposals, engage with the objectors, understand the cause of the objections and work with them to refine the proposals.
Of course, the end result isn’t always perfect harmony and a win-win outcome. But the odds are a lot higher than if the initial appoach is one of confrontation.
Change management - or change leadership - is about demonstrating values and behaviours, about taking time to listen, to communicate, to persuade and to be persuaded. Walk the walk.