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Monday, 26 August 2013 00:00

You can call it whatever you want. It's still change management.

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Sometimes I like to check out some of the change management-related videos on YouTube - you’d be surprised what you can find there.  The other day, while watching another video, YouTube suggested I watch this one: 


Rick Ross’ premise here, in case you’re not inclined to watch the video yourself, is that ‘change management’ is an outdated relic from the ‘industrial age’.  Judging from his website, I think that when he refers to the ‘industrial age’, he means ‘before technology dramatically changed the way organizations function’.  The implication in this video is that ‘change management’ is outdated and doesn’t adequately allow for the organization to have input into change strategy before a change is implemented.

However, the truth is that recognizing the need for adequate organizational input - and Ross’ suggestions for how to make this happen - is already a best practice in change management.  We’ve talked about listening to employees before; in fact, it was the subject of our very first blog post.  His suggestions aren’t a modern twist on the dinosaur that is change management - they’re what every good change management practitioner is already doing.

Ross mentions a company called Humana, which got 26,000 of its 40,000 employees to start using a social networking tool for better internal communications.  That sounds okay - though as a change management professional I’d be looking for better than a 65% adoption rate - but according to this article, if Humana had done a better job of soliciting input from different parts of the organization, they could have achieved a much higher level of compliance across the company, faster.  

Of course, there’s always a “but…”

Sometimes, a change doesn’t lend itself to large-scale organizational input. 

In the Humana example, the CIO didn’t spent a lot of time engaging the organization prior to the change because he decided that it was more important to just get started with the social networking tool quickly rather than waiting months while they collected input from 40,000 employees.  And sometimes that kind of approach makes sense.

There are other situations in which large-scale organizational input isn’t appropriate:  Maybe the changes are part of a plan that needs to be kept under wraps for legal or competitive reasons; maybe a decision is made to try a small pilot program before the change goes organization-wide; and even I can admit that some changes are too small to warrant a lengthy dialogue period.

At the end of the day, it’s still ‘change management’

Whether you spend a lot of time on organizational input or not, the strategic plan and implementation of change is still ‘change management’.  You are still managing yourself and your organizations through change change.  Change management is really just the act of harnessing the power of your people in order to achieve a certain goal. That's never just a relic of a bygone age - it's your silver bullet to success.

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Beth Banks Cohn, PhD, founder and president of ADRA Change Architects, is dedicated to helping you and your organization reach your full business potential…
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