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Why change ?

Why change? Why the need and drive to do things differently? If not clearly answered, this question can come back to haunt you in the later stages of a project. It is not surprising to hear it at odd times, like following a project progress report, during training or even during implementation.

At all levels, changes can be sudden, unforeseen and even hoped-for on top of being organized. Changes and challenges add to the burden of day-to-day concerns.

Companies and their employees are not immune to this. These days, many companies are experimenting with redesigning their processes, implementing state-of-the-art systems to support current operations, adapting to the market and maximizing inter-team cooperation. In such circumstances, the status quo often becomes a higher-impact option than any alternative approach.

So why the need for change?

The following are the sorts of questions that can help define that “why”:

  • What is the problem (trigger)?
  • Why is it urgent to make the change?
  • What do the options, including the status quo, entail?
  • What exactly does the change consist of?

An answer that is clear and well understood by everyone will open the way for aligned, consistent next steps.

What does the “why” tell us?

Once you explain the “why” behind the need to move forward, it is interesting to see the positive intention behind the concerns. Often, we discover a certain resistance to dealing with the unknown. Such resistance can be attributed to the disruption of the usual routine, the loss of skills and/or reference points, or fatigue linked to a series of cumulative changes. It is therefore important to convey the meaning and purpose of the change so that everyone knows what part they play in it.

Although the “why” is very important, it is also very important to address the “how” of achieving the change. Thus, the change management process supports implementation aspect of the project.

First of all, you need to be able to pull together the right ingredients for a successful change recipe. You’ll need a good dose of resilience, a good grasp of the culture, and the ability to identify the impact on individuals, the way employees do things, the processes, the organization of work, the roles and responsibilities and the changes for partners and clients. And those are just some of the indicators, on top of the initial objectives. The more complete your picture, the more effective your approach will be! That said, the statistics are not favourable for the great majority of projects: up to 70% meet with partial or complete failure and only 30% are considered a complete success.

In the end, is there a magic recipe for managing change?

No! It is not so much the change itself that is the biggest challenge, but rather the preparation and follow-up work that must be done before, during and after in terms of change management – starting with a clear answer to the question “Why change?”

Mélanie Cloutier

Change management consultant


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