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Tuesday, 20 August 2013 00:00

Innovation without change management is Changerous

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Imagine:  You’ve created a new organizational structure which turns the traditional hierarchy on its head.  Your new org structure is new!  It’s creative!  It’s innovative!  Most importantly, you know it’s exactly what your organization needs in order to move to the next level. 

You announce your new structure on a Monday morning, and tell everyone that it’ll go into effect two weeks from that Monday.  You take the senior leadership team through an exciting PowerPoint presentation detailing your plans, then send them out to make it happen in their departments.  You’re excited - the future is so bright, and your organization is going to be so well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities coming down the pike!

Cut to:  Six months later.  You’re sitting in a conference room with your senior leadership team, trying to figure out how, exactly, your business has fallen so dangerously behind the competition.  The innovative organizational structure that seemed so promising 6 months ago has dissolved into chaos, your top performers are starting to evacuate, and if you don’t come up with a miracle, fast, you won’t be at the head of the boardroom table much longer.

So what happened? 

(Change + innovation) - (change management plan) = Changerous

Things get changerous when you try to implement a whole new model without a change management plan.

“Change management?!” you scoff.  “Who has time to be that boring and old-school?  Around here, change is hardwired into our DNA.  We’re dynamically synergistic, we’re early adopters!  We’re so far ahead of the curve we’re practically Zappos!  Go on - take your Gantt charts with you, while our all-Millennial workforce conducts our entire business via Tumblr!”


Here are 3 things you might want to think about:

  1. Done right, change management plans can (and should) be just as innovative as the change itself.  It might help you to know that Google had a very detailed change management plan for the implementation of Google Glass
  2. Your business may have done a lot of changing in the recent past, but that doesn’t mean you’ve gotten better at it.  In fact, it may mean that your employees don’t bother to make changes because they know next week they’ll have to do it differently anyway
  3. Your 20-something employees may seem amenable to change, but their lack of experience may make it difficult for them to really implement it effectively.  Even the brightest, most agile employees need to understand how their jobs will change, and how all the new pieces fit together.

Think about it this way:  You’ve been driving for years, and you’re pretty good at it.  Then someone hands you the keys to a Maserati, says, “It’s all yours - have fun!”, and walks off into the sunset.  You get in the car, turn the key in the ignition - and then realize it’s a stick shift, which you’ve never driven before.  Trying to get it out of the parking garage without getting a couple of lessons in driving manual transmissions?  That’s changerous.


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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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