Change Management

By Penny Macias | September 17, 2015

Change is ____________. How would you fill in that blank? It would probably depend upon the type of change at hand. Before I started my position with this office I would have always filled in the blank with "great!" I've been humbled to work with many folks in this great organization to understand why there are so many other equally valid answers.

If you're trying to push change, here are a few tips:

Have a Champion (or Two) - Great ideas do not materialize into change without a strong champion. If the idea is yours, find someone else to be your champion. This needs to be a person with the influence to ensure the change happens. It's good to have a champion at the top driving the change and a champion at the bottom willing to implement the change at the ground level.

Assume Everyone Is Against The Change - Of course everyone is not against the change. But you should never assume that everyone will see the value of the change. By the time you've arrived at the realization that the change is good, you've had some time to mentally process the change. So develop a simple way to explain the change and give others the opportunity to grow to like your proposal. Be sure to include in your pitch (1) the reason change is necessary or imperative, including risks of not changing, (2) how the change will impact the immediate audience, and (3) any visual aides to show examples of how the change has been achieved elsewhere.

Plan For Everything - It's easy to believe that if you have a great idea and a great team you're destined for success. However, if you don't plan for failure, you're more likely to succumb to it. You should be sure to plan out (1) realistically how long the change will take, (2) who you have to involve in aspects of the change (even those who will be difficult to work with), (3) what the change will cost in resources and tools, and (4) overcoming roadblocks. Don't forget to plan for success too.

Communicate - When you tell someone about change, don't assume they understand it the first or even third time you tell them. Most people need multiple opportunities to wrap their brain around a new idea. Tell them in person, by emails and posters, or at events and websites.

Be Open to Change - When you work hard on change it's very easy to be convinced that the method of change or solution you're working on is the "best." Don't fall into that trap. Listen to questions and suggestions from others on how to modify the change or solution. Accept the possibility that your proposal isn't feasible in its current form. That doesn't mean you shouldn't work hard on making it happen. But you should be able to adjust so you don't spend endless hours pushing in the wrong direction.

Change Management will be something we teach more of in our upcoming LEAN/Six Sigma curriculum. Practicing these and other change techniques can really help improve your chances of success. If you have any need for help with change management, let us know. We're happy to help you as you plan for change.