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Is change management enough? Part 1

Is change management as we know it today enough to be successful in implementing projects and business transformations? My experience leads me to say no, it isn’t enough. Sustainable change management is needed.

Traditional change management certainly helps, but it must be recognized as being much more strategic and, more importantly, be the responsibility the majority (not the minority) of  individuals in the organization so as to meet the expected results of the various changes. What really matters after all:  deliver a project or achieve the results?

The DO-IT framework developed by Aplustransition relies on a change management model that offers a much more comprehensive approach. Of course, we’ll find in there the analysis of the change itself as well as the traditional accelerators: training, work organization and communication. These elements, which only represent a portion of the required practices to successfully implement a change, are those that may traditionally be delegated to change management specialists. This allows, as a first but necessary step, to clearly identify the impacts that will have to be managed, the communications to be made, the risks that will have to be tracked. But their management, in the operations, cannot be delegated to specialists. For a change to achieve its objectives and be sustained, all managers affected by the change must take ownership of the operational management of these elements.

For lasting changes, therefore, greater involvement and accountability of managers at all levels is required. They must understand the change, that is to say what changes (or the scope), what are the consequences (or impacts) on which stakeholders in their team and what are the operational risks that this change may cause .

Once this is understood, they must first address their own concerns with respect to the change in order to effectively educate their team, manage the adoption process of the individuals in the team, and support them in the change after the implementation, until the new processes or new behaviours are integrated. Here, a good specialist in change management will accompany the manager, coach him in his role, help him prepare his various actions or take the pulse, but it will not do for him. The managers’ involvement is crucial and will be more than rewarded after the implementation. After all, if he is not responsible for delivering a project, he is always accountable, months and years after, for getting the expected results of this change.

With the billions of dollars invested in change projects every year, managers’ involvement and accountability should be encouraged and valued by the organization.

All this leads us to the key role that senior management must play from beginning to end, and this role is not limited to a few announcements and distant support of the project. These key roles will be the topic of my next blog.

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