Gone are the times when change management is a once-in-a-while necessity pegged to a project we have taken on in addition to our regular workload. And neither is change management exclusively allocated to project management or consultants.
Every leader is a change manager. All the time.
All Management is Change Management
As Robert H. Schaffer depicts in his HBR Article increasing sales, implementing a merger, marketing a new product, or carrying out a new personnel policy is all change management.
The term change management often evokes resistance in us as we picture droves of consultants entering our workforce, disrupting everything we do. Fear of ambiguity, status, and even job loss creeps in. What we need to do is to normalise change and change management. If we can approach everything we do at work where we have set goals and use skills, experience, and processes to achieve and exceed these goals as the ‘management of change’ the whole notion of change management becomes day-to-day life rather than a fearsome project.
It starts with an agile mindset.
Many leaders and organisations use the terms ‘agile’ or ‘agile mindset’ without really knowing what they mean. Susan Macintosh explains it well: ‘An agile mindset is the set of attitudes supporting an agile working environment’. These include respect, collaboration, improvement and learning cycles, pride in ownership, focus on delivering value, and the ability to adapt to change. This mindset is necessary to cultivate high-performing teams, who in turn deliver amazing value for their customers.
I have taken all my research and created a landscape model to make it easier to understand what an agile mindset looks like for me as an individual and also for teams and organisations:
I’ve used this model with clients as a temperature check to explore not just how well they’re doing but also how much awareness and development of an agile mindset is present in individuals and teams.
The model is simple but not simplistic.
The best way to work with it is to go through each quadrant and evaluate the different levels of mindset, putting the right steps in place and making the necessary changes.
Make Change the New Normal
When your managers and teams have mastered the agile mindset, it’s time to adopt a change mindset. Avoid complex and costly change management projects and plans to make the organisation more change-oriented. Instead, empower your teams to set goals and sub-goals. Equip them with the tools and skills to achieve these organisational goals by applying innovative processes, driving this change on a personal level, and documenting what they have learned along the way.
As Schaffer states in his article, ‘Of course, these are steps to advance major strategic goals, but the emphasis should be on executing specific changes — with each success followed by a new round of more-ambitious goals to tackle.’
‘Change management is management and management is change management.’ – Gary Kaplan
If we manage to approach every goal with a change mindset and develop our leaders and managers to continuously lead change through people and improved processes, change will in fact become normal.
In my book LEAD THE FUTURE I dive deep into Agile Mindset and leading change. If you are curious, order your copy here.
Of course, you can also get in touch and we’ll have a chat: firstname.lastname@example.org