Newsflash: Mythical Change Management Unicorn Doesn’t Exist!
Imagine this scenario. Ambitious leader. Countless dollars and hours invested into creating an exciting new strategy. Lots of team members to rally. An awesome launch. And then, wait for it, nothing. Ok, maybe not nothing, but definitely not knock-your-socks off success. Yet another case study to support the research that only about 30% of leaders feel they achieve all their transformation goals.
The excuse: we didn’t invest enough in change management. Again. Or better yet, our “change management team” just didn’t do a good job.
It’s time for leaders to face the hard truth: this mythical “change management” unicorn that will make all of their strategic dreams come true simply does not exist.
In a time of new technology, ever-increasing customer expectations, evolving employee motivators and work habits, change just is. It’s no longer episodic. It’s no longer something that can be scoped, put on a multi-year project plan and then managed. It’s the day-to-day. And, it’s every leaders’ responsibility.
So, how do we rethink change management?
- Inspire leaders around a clear strategy. Have leaders help create it, refine it, and personalize it. Then unleash them to communicate this strategy to their teams in simple, easy to understand terms. And, I mean terms so clear that your 12-year kid can understand what you want to achieve, why, and how you are going to get the job done.
- Avoid spinning up an isolated change management team with big mandates, but low budgets and power. Instead, make driving the new direction the core responsibilities of your leaders. This includes holding them accountable for traditional “change management” activities like culture building, leadership alignment, capability development and communications. Sure you can support them with resources and specialists; just don’t let them offload the responsibility.
- Make change part of your DNA. Re-focus your recruiting, talent development, and leadership programs on attracting and building leaders at every level who love and have the skills to navigate and thrive in change.
Finally, let’s make the term change management obsolete. Like a good CD collection in the 90’s we recognize the value it served; celebrate it; but move on.