Redefining change management

Change management is more than just meeting your outcomes.

How to use change management to innovate and grow

LaMarsh Global is the globally recognized expert and thought leader in helping organizations achieve success with change. Managed Change is the model of change management that we have been applying since the 1980s. Here is an overview of change management and why Managed Change goes beyond traditional change management.

What is change management?

No organization remains static – they must adapt and change in order grow and succeed. Change management is an approach to identify changes that will contribute to success and carry out the necessary steps to achieve success.

Change management is a methodical approach to implementing a change. At its core, change management is straightforward:

You are in a current state and you have the concept of where you want to be.

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Change management is a map to guide the travel from point A to point B. It is possible to travel without a map, but a deliberate route becomes indispensable when the journey is complex or long. There are fewer moments of worry if the chosen path is the best one – or even if you’re going in the right direction.

Managed Change is a GPS – it adapts the route to get you to your destination with fewer delays and less stress. Every journey has a scheduled arrival and detailed itinerary. And the route will be modified when the destination is updated.

Brief history of change management

There has always been some form of change management in organizations, even when there was no formal name for the discipline. These approaches were typically some variation of “our organization wants to make a change, so the people will have to make a change.”

In reality, many of the tasks associated with managing change are simply responsibilities you would expect from a leader or manager.

The introduction of the disciplined approach to change management comes from businesses creating streamlined processes to do more with less. World War II created an unprecedented demand for materials and equipment. During and after the war, businesses created new approaches to improve their output through operational efficiencies.

Many of these once novel approaches to business are now routinely discussed in conference rooms around the world. Consider project management. The need to create plans, schedules and cost estimates resulted in dozens of models to manage projects and established the role of project managers as integral to effective projects. Many of these models were introduced in the 1950s and later, with ISO standards released in 2012.

Even the most optimal ways to manage people and resources went under scrutiny after World War II. The study of management science kicked off the critical review of how we do business, how we manage our finances and how we respond to information.

Change management is one stream of this business innovation. Organizations have always had to change, but without a proven process to achieve the intended outcomes of change the chances for success are diminished. Change management practices create a framework to identify success criteria, define a successful change and outline the necessary steps to achieve success.

The definition of change management

Change management is a collective term for all approaches that prepare, support and help individuals, teams and organizations in making organizational change.

It’s easy to see how change management methods apply to projects with a finite schedule, resources, budget and goal. It’s may be less clear to see how to apply change management to multiple projects underway at the same time. We can help.

For efforts that impact lots of people, have multiple workstreams or span long periods of time, it can be difficult to see how change management methods can apply. These types of changes include significant business transformations or restructurings. We can help with this too.

When to use change management

A methodical approach can benefit any planned or unplanned organizational change. Applications of change management include:

  • Growing, shrinking or adjusting teams
  • Adding new products or services
  • Changing internal processes
  • Executing mergers or acquisitions
  • Implementing new technologies
  • Responding to competition
  • Responding to crises

A methodical approach can benefit any planned or unplanned organizational change.

Using a people-first approach to change management, here are some questions to ask to identify opportunities for change management:

  • Will this change who your employees work with?
  • Will this change how your employees complete their work?
  • Will this change where your employees work?
  • Will this change what your employees are working on?
  • Will this change the timing of tasks or projects?

Asking these questions reveals the opportunity of change management: there are many changes that an organization undergoes that will impact the people. And each of these changes will benefit from management of the change.

The value and benefits of change management

You can use change management to transform risks into opportunities, nurture innovation and improve the acceptance of new solutions.

Change management helps people go through the process of a change. It doesn’t avert or suspend the change, but rather improves the process so it achieves the desired results more quickly and with fewer challenges.

The change process

The change process for individuals can be simplified into three states: current, transition and desired states.

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The current state is where you are before undergoing a change. It describes baseline productivity or familiar work practices.

The place you want to be is the desired state. Or in the case of organizational change, this is the state your organization wants you to be in.

To get from the current state to the desired state, you have to undergo a transition. As the old routine morphs into something new, there may be a decline in operating measures and overall productivity, satisfaction and quality.

How change management helps

There are four areas in which managing change can benefit the change process:

  1. During the change, change management can reduce the impact on operating measures and those affected. It predicts and minimizes potential short-term consequences.
  2. The change step is accelerated. This means you achieve the benefits of the change sooner.
  3. The benefits not only are achieved sooner, but are enhanced or strengthened. You achieve better results.
  4. After the change process is done, change management ensures the changes are sustained. They are not a one-time fix, but rather contribute to success in the long run. This helps prevent you from repeating the same change over and over.

What this means for organizations

For organizational changes, helping people go through the process of change means reduced risk and a higher chance of success.

Transform risk to opportunities

A change carries the risk of producing results that are less ideal than before. Or the process of going through a change may lead to a dip in operating measures or push morale to unacceptable levels.

Failures can occur at every stage. The prospect of change can be enough to derail the process, or the desired state may not seem to be all that desirable. Even going through the transition itself carries its own risks.

With a structured approach to managing change, these risks can be transformed into opportunities. Review the desired state before undergoing the transformation, and properly prepare everyone for the change. In this way, the risks are minimized to create more opportunities to succeed.

Stagnation to innovation

Big changes create breakthrough moments.

Revolutions in manufacturing opened up the efficiency of mass production. Introducing new technologies created entirely new markets. Leveraging new forms of marketing capture audiences that were previously unreachable.

Businesses that are known for their success don’t just accept change – they welcome it.

Organizations with stagnant success stick to “business as usual” and are victims of inertia. To create a breakthrough moment, they require an innovative vision and then need to make a change. The result is a transformed organization that is innovative instead of stagnant.

Better results through quality solutions and acceptance

There are two major factors that contribute to successful results: the quality of the solution and its acceptance.

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The quality of a solution can be measured by its “fit” within an organization and potential to meet internal or external needs. It comes from dedicated research into options and careful evaluation.

But even the best solution can fail if not successfully implemented. The acceptance of a solution is just as important as the solution itself. A business needs to be capable of implementing and sustaining the change to create results.

Change management ensures the solution is accepted by your organization and people.

Redefining change management

The way we do business is far different than it was a few decades ago. Businesses need to make strategic changes in order to continue to be successful, and they need to be able to manage multiple changes at the same time.

LaMarsh Global has been a trailblazer in change management since the 1980s. In that time, we have witnessed an evolution in both business and change management.

What doesn’t seem to have happened is a comparable revolution in how organizations are led, and the path to manage the complexity and change chaos is less clear. Here is how business and change management has evolved in the past two decades.

No longer “business as usual”

There was a shift in business since the turn of the century. Organizations that were once flourishing had to make rapid adjustments to respond to the financial crises in the past two decades. What was once solid business strategies are no longer relevant, and leadership teams that previously produced immense success are now focused on keeping organizations alive.

“Business as usual” is no longer the mantra for success.

Daily work has also evolved. Trends that impact every organization include a new reliance on technology, a jump in employees with higher education, nearly limitless access to information and widespread connectedness.

External and internal pressures have revolutionized business, but the approach to leadership and management is stuck in the past. Without a strong foundation for organizational effectiveness and leadership, we risk failure to change, grow and prosper.

Traditional change management isn’t enough

Leaders and managers spend most of their time running the business. Their goals are based on business measures: quality standards, production costs, production numbers, process parameters, employee turnover rates, safety goals and more.

Organizational change is viewed as a disruption to achieve these measures, creating a misalignment between the needs of the business today and future success.

The people that lead and manage the business are often detached from the traditional change management activities. As a result, it is viewed as the sole responsibility of project teams or change management professionals. Their goals are different than the goals of the organization. And leadership tends to be unaware of the impacts of the change efforts on employees, their performance and the quality of their work.

Traditional change management isn’t enough to keep up with the pace and magnitude of changes that organizations face. A solid foundation for organizational effectiveness and engaged leaders are the most important factors to successful change management – especially when change is a constant.

Beyond discrete projects

Change management is the process to achieve a desired state. The focus is often tangible projects or transitions, but the same process can be applied for desired states that are visionary, strategic and evolutionary:

  • Creating opportunities for innovation.
  • Cultivating breakthrough moments.
  • Achieving strategic goals.
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As the application of change management grows, the definition also expands.

Change management in the past Change management now
React to change Change is an opportunity
Linear Systemic
Responsive Proactive and innovative
Clear beginning and end Evolutionary
Goal is constant Change is constant
Project leaders Change leaders
Project sponsors Change sponsors
Focus on the past Focus on the future

We aim to create and support leaders whom are influential and effective. Individuals that experience the change process move away from a sense of being a victim to being a partner.

More than a checklist

A systemic approach to managing change enables organizations to go beyond the basics of managing a single end-to-end change. It empowers change agility, which is the key to successful organizations.

Managed Change is the global standard for single projects to company-wide transformation – and everything in between.

Characteristics for success

Contemporary change management requires active and engaged leaders, strategic resourcing and effective people management throughout an organization.

Traditional change management can only succeed when there is a solid foundation for organizational effectiveness and engaged leaders. Here are the main properties of contemporary change management that contribute to success.

Active and engaged leadership

Change is systemic, so change management also needs to be systemic. It is necessary for change to be introduced, led, aligned, managed and measured by the leaders of an organization – and not just change teams or change management professionals.

When leaders are engaged through all stages of a change, an organization’s strategy is better connected to the changes and employees. Contemporary change management requires all leaders to lead and influence change efforts.

Reintroduce the basics

Business plans, resource allocation, training programs, sourcing strategies, strong people management and sound performance management are among the basics that are integral for a successful change.

These tried-and-true business methods ensure that the people of an organization understand the work that has to be done and the capacity required to complete that work.

It’s all about the people

Contemporary change management requires competent and capable people managers who have the time, desire and capability to manage their employees.

At the core, people management provides every level of an organization the necessary direction, information, nurturing, rewards, recognition, reinforcement, leadership, support and more. This includes setting expectations, prioritizing work, influencing employees and having appropriate conversations to align employees with the organization.

Integrated into the organization

To align change efforts with the strategy of an organization, change management needs to be integrated into an organization instead of viewed as only part of discrete projects. The systemic change needed for business transformations require change efforts to be led by leadership teams.

The introduction of change events, the definition of change success and the accountability for every employee rests at the feet of leadership and management. Not leadership of the project, but rather the organization.

Roles of the people

There are three types of people in change-capable organizations: change leaders, change practitioners and the individuals that are affected by change.

Change management is a tool that anyone can use to improve the likelihood of success for projects. And successful projects mean success for organizations.

When individuals are able to adapt to change, they create opportunities to meaningfully contribute to the success of projects and organizations. In turn, they create an invaluable role for themselves.

When organizations are able to adapt to change, they improve their competitive and financial viability. They can better respond to the changing needs of their internal and external customers.

Change-capable individuals

Here are some individuals who leverage change management:

  • Project and team leads: To improve the success of projects
  • Managers: To enable staff to succeed in the face of new routines or changes
  • Executives: To promote breakthrough moments and improve organizational innovation
  • Practitioners: To create opportunities for organizations to leverage change management
  • Every leader: To align employees with the goals of an organization and contribute to successful change efforts

With change management, they are capable of demonstrating change agility by quickly adapting and making changes.

Change-capable organizations

An organization that can effectively adjust and transition requires two key components:

  1. A strategic business goal
  2. The ability to complete the necessary steps to achieve the business goal

Change-capable organizations have the executive guidance to develop viable business goals. They have the change management tools to manage the change and create new opportunities for their employees. And they have active and engaged leaders that are involved at every stage of a change.

Step by step and project by project – organizations implement changes to reach their strategic goals. Organizations with the effective capability to change don’t just work toward a single goal; they continuously redefine the strategic vision to respond to their customers and competition.

With change management, they are capable of quickly adapting and making changes.

Roles for individuals

The study of change management has identified three major roles for individuals. These roles are defined based on an individual’s contributions or response to a change.

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Change leaders

These are the individuals who decide on the reason for a change and initiate the process. By identifying the strategic goals, they contribute to the vision for the desired state.

Change leaders include senior executives and leaders who are tasked with empowering innovation across the organization. They can be project leaders who have a defined goal. Strategic advisors or a governance board can be change leaders by identifying what success looks like for an organization.

Change leaders recognize where they want to be and compare that with where they currently are. They realize the benefits of the change. Not only do they set the goals, but they also determine the degree of investment to reach the goals.

After the purpose of the change is identified, the next step is to undergo the process.

Change practitioners

By carrying out the change process, change practitioners are the leaders that enable change. Their goal is the defined desired state and their tools are change management methods.

Change practitioners can – but don’t have to – be the leaders. In large or complex organizations, some leaders provide the strategic goals while others effectively carry them out. And other organizations may just have a single individual who recognized an opportunity and is championing the change.

As the champions of change, agents are responsible for setting out the plans to achieve the desired state. These individuals can be internal leaders or external consultants. The role of the individual is not as important as the set of leadership qualities, including:

  • Is a trusted messenger with credibility
  • Leads by example
  • Is a strong communicator
  • Has the time and resources to facilitate the change

Combined with Managed Change tools and methodology, these qualities will enable the change process to be completed while reducing the risks of the change.

Impacted people

These are the individuals that are impacted by a change. Their routines or processes are disrupted, potentially affecting effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction. But with change management, these individuals can be empowered and given opportunities instead of interruptions.

Impacted people can be an individual employee, working group, supplier, dealer or even a customer. They can be individuals who are provided with new tools or technologies to complete their work. Tasked with developing a new service, they can be employees on innovative projects. Their present role is the current state and any new or adjusted role is the desired state.

The people impacted by change are vital contributors in change management. They are not the product of change management; instead, they are integral parts of the process and their engagement is a key factor in the success of any change initiative.

See why Managed Change is the leading approach to change management.