A Synonym for Change

There is a lot of push back lately over the term change management. Some of that is consultants heavy on the marketing and branding approach just trying to tweak the conversation in their direction. Some of it is pushing against templated styles that reduce flexibility and push change into the middle of the organization (with little leadership support- in fact I would swear at times those approaches are picked so that leaders CAN disconnect). Some of it is over the word “management”. Do you really “manage” change?

So I got to thinking, “what would it look like if we changed the word change in this term?”.

Let’s try some change synonyms:

something made different; alteration

about-face, addition, adjustment, advance, break, compression, contraction, conversion, correction, development, difference, distortion, diversification, diversity, innovation, metamorphosis, modification, modulation, mutation, novelty, permutation, reconstruction, refinement, remodeling, reversal, revision, revolution, shift, surrogate, switch, tempering, transformation, transition, transmutation, turn, turnover, variance, variation, variety, vicissitude


About-face Management

This one definitely does not work for anything.

Yet many change initiatives and approaches by focusing on the present and comparing the change to that perspective do just this- create a constant about face for the change.

Fixing that does take a lot of management…

Addition Management

This could be our merger or growth term.

If the change is making things bigger- space, number of people, new products, new service, overall corporate expansion in a quick way- then this is a good term.

At least it is positive.

More, in the context of business, seems like a good thing.

It does sound like a term an elementary teacher would use though.

Adjustment Management

Maybe this is that small sort of change that happens within projects.

A little tweak here, a little enhancement there, to make process and collaboration work better. That is certainly adjustment management.

It doesn’t sound as scary as CHANGE management (who knows what that might mean… to me personally as a stakeholder…).

Advance Management

This one I like, but not for the change version of the meaning. I like it for the potential for front loading change.

There are so many things that are missed by organizations contemplating big change. I’m not sure if it is because they have an internal focus with no eyes to see a broader picture, or they are in  a hurry, or weak strategic process, or a misunderstanding (or a marketed change approach) of organizational change management. Sometimes it is all of the above.

Advance management would not be, necessarily, change readiness or stakeholder outreach/inclusion or the communication plan or the training plan, it would be a process that clearly defines the end state and all the pieces necessary to have that in place.

In our current world of change Advance Management comes before “change management” rather than replacing it.

Change can take many forms. It turns out we also have many words for it- a little like Eskimos and snow. The list will continue tomorrow…

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