Treating Change as an Event is Destroying Your Organization
By Julie Williamson
As the 1990s got underway, we started to see major change ‘events’ happening in business. In particular, Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERPs) began to infiltrate all areas of the business, and new technology and process implementations required something new and different to deliver on their business cases. That ‘something’ became known as Change Management, and the growth in the discipline of change in the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s was phenomenal – today it is a billion dollar industry by some estimates, with professional associations, career paths, and plenty of consultants / consulting companies running after a share of that market.
At the same time, change is accelerating in every area of business, and we have arrived at a point where ‘change’ is simply business as usual for most companies. If you aren’t continually adapting, flexing, and accommodating new pressures on your business, you aren’t keeping up. And if you aren’t keeping up you are falling behind – and you risk losing your competitive edge, your ability to be the obvious choice.
We think ‘change management’ has come and gone as an exclusive discipline. These days, any project manager worth his or her chops should be able to build change activities into a project plan. Perhaps a change resource or a communications resource is needed to build and support the activities, but doing “change” outside of the program plan no longer makes sense. The two need to be completely coupled, in order for the project to be delivered.
Instead, there is a pressing need for individual people, teams, and companies to develop ‘change muscle’. They need to learn to work, deliver, and find satisfaction in an environment where change is happening every day. They need the tools, resources, and structures to help them succeed within change, rather than surviving it. One challenge we have raised for ourselves is to stop seeing change as ‘event driven’ and instead focusing more on how to help our clients (and ourselves) to re-engineer the workplace to make it more conducive to change as being a normal part of every project, and indeed of every day. Think for yourself – what if you stopped worrying about ‘change management’ and started focusing on ‘change muscle’? How would that shift your attention? What would you do differently? And how would you use consultants differently to help build muscle instead of delivering on an event of change? We’d love to hear from you.