Managing Organisational Change

The nature of change itself is changing. Dealing with change is becoming an essential competence for survival, not a periodic or one-off program. Finding a vision of the future state is central to the success of change initiatives.

No longer consisting of one-off, pragmatic initiatives, change is now an ongoing process in which new ideas are obsolete as fast as they are introduced. Change today must be pre-emptive and ongoing, not adaptive and merely a means of coping. Capturing opportunities and minimising threats through proactive, offensive actions means linking the intelligence of the company, and rooting the desire to change continuously in the ‘mindset’ of the organisation.

Effective change starts with ‘looking out’ from today’s organisation and environment to build a vivid picture of the future. It must be a vision all members of the organisation can commit to, and one that fits the company’s competencies. By looking to the future companies can work backwards in planning the strategy to get there.
Successful visioning builds on four key factors:

  • Different thinking – visioning requires a completely different mode of thought from regular management tasks, and to be effective it must be led by a talented and credible facilitator
  • Challenging current practices – to build the vision one must let go of perceived current restrictions and the organisation must challenge it own ‘possibilities’
  • Building the right team – think carefully about the constitution of the visioning team, both knowledge and personality types
  • Creating a safe environment – those in the visioning team must feel safe to tell the truth about the current reality and express all ideas

There are six essential principles of change management:

  1. Lead from the top – top management involvement and commitment to any change initiative are essential. Top management must be actively and physically involved throughout the process, dedicating time to the effort, setting the pace, communicating urgency, insisting on breakthrough thinking and results, and leading by example
  2. Set aggressive targets – successful change initiatives use goals and targets that stretch everyone’s thinking
  3. Resource for success – make sure a suitably qualified manager or implementation team is responsible for each major initiative. Seek excellence, strength of character and diversity
  4. Manage for results – establish a specific mission and targets upfront, then dedicate resources to tracking success in achieving them. Keep up the pace, push for early results. Establish clear milestones and progress checks
  5. Empower teams – empowerment is a further support to building the commitment necessary for successful hand-off and implementation. Empower the change team to make decision and act as they see fit
  6. Communicate, educate and train – prepare people for change, communicating early and broadly. Once engaged, people will want to understand what to expect. The most successful initiatives train employees and team members in the skills needed to initiate and support change

Source: Management Today Magazine Nov/Dec ‘06

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