Late last year, I attended a seminar dealing with IT system implementations. I was thrilled hearing that so many of the presentations well highlighted how essential change management is for such projects to succeed. The awareness that something else than just technical implementation needs to happen is clearly there.
But what is change management or change leadership? And why did I still hear in several presentations that reality in many organizations is far from ideal when actually running these implementation projects?
Organizations don’t change. No IT system, operating model or process changes before people change. And, thus, change their organizations. This has evolved our thinking and the way we work at CCEA to focus on people. We call it People-driven change.
We define change management as activities that support people impacted by the change as well as help those, who are influencing them to: understand and accept what is changing, find personal meaning in the change, support their colleagues and team members in the change, learn everything new the change brings along, adopt new routines and unlearn the old behaviours, and stick in the new ways.
I believe one key reason for hearing that many organizations still struggle in implementing their change projects, despite of the overall understanding that change management is needed, is that people are still not put in the core of the change. Both the deeper understanding of change management, that it is a continuity of actions focusing on people, and the capabilities of the organizations, i.e. the people to change, are not sufficient.
It was almost twenty years ago that Peter Drucker concluded in his study that The most valuable asset of 21st century institution will be its knowledge workers and their productivity (California Management Review, 1999, Vol. 41, No. 2). As 2020 is almost here and we can see it will be an era characterized by continuous change, it is alarming to notice that the capabilities of the most valuable assets in numerous organizations are still in many ways lacking when it comes to organizations to carry through changes successfully.
Adequate level of change capability in the organization is essential to allow necessary change management actions to be run at the first place. It enables efficient change implementation of the projects, i.e. investments, and turning these into positive value faster and with higher success rates. Management makes smarter decisions when they understand the overall impact of change initiatives. People perform better during a change, work is less straining, business keeps on rolling and changes are implemented with less friction.
The most competitive companies are the ones with people who have the capability to implement changes repeatedly. Improving organizational change capability means better business.
Want to learn more about organizational change capability and collect new thoughts and tools to get equipped for the era of constant renewal? Join us at CHANGE19, the most insightful change event in Finland on the 21st of March.
The writer works as a principal consultant at CCEA. Read more about Juha.