The 12 best Change Management resources
in January 2022
Many great articles, posts, podcasts, webinars, videos and memes were published in January about change management. That tells me that change management is maturing as a discipline. We have curated 12 articles, which are worth reading if you want to stay on top of what is going on in change management.
Josh Bersin has been one of the leading thought leaders within HR, Talent and Learning for more than 15 years. He has just released a new publication called: "The Change Agility Playbook: Ten lessons in Change Agility". I think it is an important and really good publication, and you can find the link in this article. The playbook results from two years of research with surveys, interviews and discussions with more than 1,400 organisations.
Although Change Agility has "nothing to do with change management." according to Josh, I think it is relevant because it is all about making change a core ability within organisations. I call this Enterprise Change Management or change culture. We focus a lot on doing change on a project, but we are also helping organisations build the capability to change.
However, Josh's approach to changes is turned upside-down from the traditional change management approach, as shown in the figure. It aligns with the agile way of working and is more bottom-up driven with more and smaller changes.
If you don't have time to read the publication, you can listen to the podcast instead.
Employee resistance is often seen as something best avoided. But the two Bain & Co authors
Luba Mandzy Herring and Kevin Murphy argue otherwise. According to them, a little employee reluctance to change is a good thing. It is valuable to recognise and appreciate the benefits of resistance. Resistance is a sign that people still care enough to complain—they haven't given in to apathy and checked out. It shows that they're taking the change seriously. They have questions about what's happening.
The article suggests three ways to answer natural resistance:
- Work to shift employee mindsets from seeing the change as a threat to recognising its opportunities and how they can make the change better.
- Embrace resistance, don't let it win.
- Help your people work through the resistance.
The article points out that resistance is natural, it can be managed and that there is often good reason/information in understanding why people resist. Maybe the most important thing is that you should never ignore employee resistance. Embrace it.
January is normally a time for posts about 'trends in the year to follow'. But I rarely see them in Change Management. I cannot figure out why. Audra Procto has looked in her crystal ball and makes the following three predictions for 2022.
1. More people will come into the Change Management community 'accidentally'. These 'accidental change agents' are likely to be dealing with a post-pandemic environment that continues to require all-hands-on-deck. Alongside this, time-poor business leaders and their teams will need fast, cost-effective access to skills, tools, and know-how that enables them to get up to speed quickly.
2. Change Management is still Change Management (regardless of definition). However, the focus for practitioners of Change Management will be on helping re-design their organisation for continuous adaptation.
3. CMOs and their sponsors will need to get comfortable with SaaS-based approaches. The fair assumption would be that there is less time, talent, and financial bandwidth to keep creating and reinventing the wheel as they look to focus on execution in their role.
Although I would have liked a bit more detail and more data behind the trends and perhaps also some pointers to how we can position ourselves well for these trends, I appreciate a blog post that tries to look for what is worth paying extra attention to in the new year.
Increasing the change maturity of an organisation is not just about training a few selected change practitioners or trying out change management on a random project. No, increasing the change maturity takes a structured and dedicated effort. Like so many other things. But how? Tim Creasey from Prosci has developed a roadmap for building change management competency.
What is the change-ready organisation? According to Tim, an organisation is successful at building change competency when change management is applied on each and every project, individuals at all levels of the organisation have developed the competency to manage change, and change readiness becomes a competitive differentiator. Change management will also be evident in the organisation's processes and structure and visible in the actions and behaviours of executives, senior leaders, people managers, project teams and front-line employees.
Tim outlines three ECM deployment approaches:
- Project-centric approach. This is often taken when the effort's originator wears more of a "project hat" in the organisation. This person tends to influence projects and can drive change management into projects first in the organisation.
- Skill-centric approach. This approach is often used when the effort's originator has a human resource or training background. Skill is typically the focus because the originator (e.g., the director of training) has influence and control in the training part of the organisation.
- Holistic approach. Prosci's research and experience show that a holistic approach that addresses both areas and the elements of process and structure will be highly effective when you have sponsorship from the highest level of your organisation.
Most organisations have recognised the need to have the necessary capacity for change. How to drive the Enterprise Change Management maturity is, however, a challenge for most. Tim's overview of the different approaches might help make that informed decision.
Good overview, Tim.
Bill Schaninger is worth following. He is senior partner at McKinsey. This article is really more of an overview of recent blogs from McKinsey Organization Blog, where their readers have picked the ones they liked the most about leading teams and organisations through this crisis. The posts are mainly about leadership, but they are relevant from a change management point of view because they show how leaders can influence a change in a crisis. Collectively, they offer a well-rounded primer on leading a team to success—during uncertain times or during business as usual.
They are all really good, as you would expect from McKinsey. Still, I would like to highlight my own favourite: How to communicate effectively in times of uncertainty By Ana Mendy, Mary Lass Stewart, and Kate VanAkin.
The intro reads: During a crisis, an employee's most trusted source of information is often their employer, and a leader's words and actions can have a major impact on the well-being of those they manage. These five fundamental tools can help leaders effectively communicate with their teams and carry their organisations through uncertain times with a renewed sense of purpose and trust.
This is a great article about building organisational change capability, something I believe will continue to be a major trend within change management for the next five years. Although it is not rocket science, the most important thing is to use a structured process to build this capability. Dean Anderson & Linda Ackerman Anderson list seven key practices:
- Make Building Change Capability a Central Goal of Your Current Change Efforts
- Real Sponsor Support and Change Leader Accountability
- Make One Person Ultimately Accountable for Building Your Organisation's Change Capability
- Team the "Change Capability Leader" with the Current Change Initiative Leaders
- Use a Common Change Process Methodology as the Roadmap for All of Your Change Initiatives
- Include Employees at All Levels on Your Change Capability Team
- Reward Increased Change Capability
According to this article, there are three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and resistance to change. But one way to increase your chances of success is getting key stakeholders involved in the process. When people of influence in the organisation buy in to change, it makes the transition easier. It's a good idea to enlist advocates from areas such as IT and finance to assist you.
Once you have key stakeholders on board, you need five essential ingredients for successful organisational change. If one is missing, change can still happen, but it will have negative consequences. The five ingredients are vision, skills, incentives, resources, and an action plan.
Soft skills are often highlighted as important to do change management. You know, things like communication, listening, emotional intelligence etc. Prosci has, in their Best Practice, identified Excellent Communication Skills, Change Management Competency, Flexibility and Interpersonal Skills as the most important skills. But what about Personal Resilience? Is that a skill that we as change managers should have?
Audra Proctor argues that in times of major disruption, personal resilience comes into sharper focus. As it is the most resilient people inside businesses that help them bounce back and survive the turbulence in their respective marketplaces. In this article, she argues her point and explains what personal resilience looks like.
There are not many academic journals dedicated to Change Management. One you should know about - and read once in a while - is the Journal of Change Management. The articles are academic and less relevant for a practitioner in our day-to-day work. But the academic research is important; it helps to mature the discipline, gives us input to an evidence-based approach, and may give you data for building the business case internally.
This article written by Saara Karasvirta and Satu Teerikangas seeks to understand change organisations (networks, teams and roles dedicated to change). They argue that they are a somewhat underrepresented dimension in classic planned organisational change models. However, in practice, companies' change organisations play various active roles in planned change.
They write in their conclusion, "First, we propose a typology on change organisations as consisting of change networks, change teams and individual change roles, incorporating varying dimensions each. We further found three interrelations between these dimensions. Second, we demonstrate that change organisations exist in company practice more than they appear in the POCM literature. Third, we develop a framework for the evaluation of the maturity of a company's change organisation. Going forward, our findings are a call for further research on change organisations and their role in planned organisational change.".
Ronn Leeman is worth following on LinkedIn. He frequently posts insightful articles. He is the founder of The Highway of Change and offers training in change management.
The post I want to highlight is "Change Management and Loss", a relevant topic for any change managers. In the post and especially in a previous article, which you can find links to in the article, Ronn goes through five principles of change.
- Principle #1 – Everybody has needs that should be met
- Principle #2 – Part of change is loss and needs to be addressed
- Principle #3 – Peoples expectation need to be managed
- Principle #4 – You have to deal with fears realistically
- Principle #5 – People show different reactions to change
Ronn expands on principle #2 and explains in the associated slides six types of loss; Identity and status, of control, of knowledge and skills, of face, of a psychological contract and networks and colleagues.
Good post, Ronn. Keep it up.
Tim Crease from Prosci is the leading thought leader on Change Management. He has recently been invited to no less than 22 podcasts to explain change management. Some focus on change management and project management, others on leading your team through change. You can see the overview in the picture below.
The podcast episode I want to highlight here is "Engaging Leaders During Change", with Change On The Run hosted by Phil Buckley (a podcast worth following). As most would agree with, leaders have a great influence on the success of a change initiative, and without their full support, a project may struggle. So, how do you engage leaders during change to fulfil their roles and ensure people have everything they need to take on new mindsets, routines, and behaviours? Well, listen to this episode to find out.
Jason Little is the Chief Product Nerd at Spero Careers in Canada and the author of Lean Change Management, Change Agility and Agile Transformation. He has authored close to 40 articles on LinkedIn. He is worth following if you are interested in change management and agile.
Jason wants us to shift our thinking towards an experimentation approach to change and offers seven ideas which he expands upon in the article:
- Visualisation: We visualise our change work using big visible walls to be transparent about what we're working on.
- Feedback-Driven: We use feedback from experiments as input into how we adjust our change plans.
- Diagnostics: We have the right leading indicators that help shape our future experiments and direction.
- Celebrate Success: We celebrate the good things, no matter how small they are
- Measurements: The people affected by the change have created their measurements that align to the purpose of the change
- Accept Failure: We accept failure, take learnings, and wipe the slate clean so we can move on without blame.
- Facilitate: We design experiments to reduce barriers that are preventing people from adopting the change
You can also watch this on YouTube through Lean Change Management's channel. The episode is about 20 minutes long.