Our new eBook, Change Readiness: Planting the Seeds for Change Success, is out and available to help you through your change programme. We'll be publishing one chapter each month in our blog. This will be followed by a webinar to discuss issues raised by that section.
Before you embark on a change programme, whether it be Agile, business agility, adaptability, Lean, Kanban or a combination, you need to be sure your organisation is ready. ‘Pre-change change’ is crucial; it could determine the success or the failure of your transformation.
The five chapters are:
- Management training
- Purpose-driven methodologies
- Waste management
If you haven’t considered these precursory elements, it’s almost always too late to do so once the transformation has begun. The lack of them will kill the programme or, at the least, significantly hamper it. And, of course, these pre-change change factors are hugely important for your business’s success even if you aren’t planning a major change. Enjoy the first chapter Management Training. But if you can’t wait for the whole eBook, it’s available to download in its entirety.
The date for the first webinar will be announced shortly, so be on the lookout!
CHAPTER ONE: Management Training
The Simple Training Secret to Activate Change Success
It is a safe bet that back in the 90s the pocket behind your driver's seat contained some dusty pennies, long-forgotten Life Savers and a dog-eared road map the size of a coffee table. The map did its job, but only after an investment of time and concentration that by contemporary standards would push most of us to tears. Now, following directions is a glance and listen game. A couple of years more and rush hour will be nap-time. The sound of snoring will drown out the hum of lithium-ion batteries on the M25 London Orbital Motorway. In these fascinating times, the only constant is change. But if people have no idea how to implement change into their lives, the benefits will have no impact. Change by itself does not improve anything. It is the way we adapt to change that makes the difference.
Two decades ago the brilliant tools for organisational change management we now have did not exist. That does not mean, however, that companies today are always seeing a tangible level of success after their implementation. The techniques may be new, but the reasons for their failure are the same as ever. The problem is not the tools; it is a lack of preparation for their implementation. The good news is that it is quite a simple problem to fix if you know what to look for.
The 5 Stages of Early Change Failure:
The Management Skills Gap – People who excel are often promoted into management. But unless they are adequately trained in forecasting, planning and organising their team's daily work, organisational change will be primed to fail. If new workloads and requirements delivered by change are not skilfully anticipated, the management response is reactionary and unplanned. The knock-on effect of this is the mismanagement and neglect of work that may come as unprepared teams launch into an ineffective scramble to address the day-to-day.
The Backlog – When the quantity, demands and scope of work change and are unanticipated, necessary tasks will inevitably get overlooked. Incomplete tasks will back up and backlogs will multiply. This horrible cycle leaves managers and staff ever more overburdened with each successive day.
Prioritisation – Eventually, the only practical option is to prioritise, but when everything is important, prioritisation becomes less about effectiveness and more about exclusion. Those who shout the loudest will win and the rest will lose. Staff feel unappreciated and resentful, while managers find themselves stressed out from the relentless effort of firefighting.
Wilful Blindness – If time, manpower and money are immovably fixed against ever-increasing levels of work, prioritising will no longer suffice. Managers will become blind to work that requires their attention and deny their ability to do anything about it. Creativity greatly suffers. Managers no longer control the work; the work controls them.
Resigned Acceptance – Finally, management gives up. A white-flag-waving disaster has occurred, blocking growth and profit. The incomplete work remains and festers. Demoralised staff suffer a sense of futility and blame their managers.
What starts as a simple skills gap, becomes an entrenched problem that will later go viral, spreading to the point of disaster. Often organisations stuck in this trap will attempt restructuring to solve it. This, however, is rarely the silver bullet hoped for. The underlying problem persists, because restructuring has simply rearranged the furniture around it. Unless management training is part of the restructuring, a very expensive re-think will mean business as usual – in the most problematic of senses.
In my many years in the change management industry, I have encountered this training blind spot time and again. Training focuses on the important areas of goal-setting and staff motivation but often overlooks equipping managers with the skills they need to avoid the devastatingly slippery slope laid out above. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I have often been met with amazement when I talk about how to look for demand, assess staff numbers and predict daily workloads. Despite this, training managers is neither revelation nor revolution. Change for the unprepared is disastrous, but for managers with a plan, it can be the most powerful catalyst for success they will ever encounter.
Well-planned change is the most powerful catalyst for success.
Insight from Stephen Parry
I am usually with a large company a maximum of 4 years, but on average 2. In that 2 years you can guarantee there will have been at least 1 reorganisation, and I know a company that went through 4 reorganisations in 4 years. They wonder why there is no stability. If you put a greater load on the foundations than they are designed to withstand, eventually the foundations will crack under the pressure.
Silo thinking is an oxymoron.
We are not addressing the common issues about the way our system of work does not work because it always appears that our department is always working and everybody else's is not, which is not true. What works is when we are all working together. Therefore, you have to have conversations together, so problems can be fixed together. Silo thinking is an oxymoron, and there is no effective thinking in a silo.
When I am working with companies, I invite departments to meet in common areas and eliminate the blame game. They do that by first saying to the department they are meeting with, “We know we are causing you problems and we are sorry about that. Please tell us what we can do to help you.” And that is when relationships begin to get built.
Empathy is created from direct feedback.
Soon, everybody learns about the pressures their own autonomous processes and procedures have, as a knock-on effect, on other departments. If excuse-making is side lined in favour of listening, empathy is created from direct feedback and that common understanding breeds solutions.