So Many Ways to Manage Change

Running through the alphabet of change.

Some new ones:

Permutation Management

Had to look this one up, I admit.

One definition: Change based on the rearrangement of existent elements.

This has to be Organizational Design. Org. Design being of course the nicer sounding term.

Many a change is this rearranging of what we have. And many big change initiatives have this as a component within.

With this term Permutation Management I would make sure that the reason for the rearranging was understood. I might first design a process to come up with and describe the end state, but close on the heels of that have a strong business case around the improvement to be seen (and maybe the reason if that was good for languaging).

Are we permuting (couldn’t resist) to streamline process? Maybe to make innovation easier because of collaboration? Does this rearranging make task easier? Planning?

With this form of Permutation Management reasons and possible results are very important to success.


The second definition is just as much fun: “the act or process of changing the lineal order of an ordered set of objects “.

I could see doing this on purpose for set-in-concrete status quo processes within the organization. So many times I find myself saying,”why do you do this thing in this order” with a strange face and silence as a response. (Those scrunched up silent responses for everything change either signal they can’t believe I saw that and have the guts to call it our OR they think I am meddling- PS meddling is a competency for change practitioners).

For those times when the process absolutely HAS to do this or that at this specific spot or time Permutation Management may be the way to call it out. Justify it and it stays. Unable to give a solid argument for status quo? It changes.

Reconstruction Management

A friend of mine goes into parts of his organization and fixes process at a high level.

His explanations show that sometimes he has to start from scratch, other cases are rearrangements and most are rebuilding what was once good. He is practicing Reconstruction Management.

This term is a tricky one.

You can rebuild, reconstruct and try to make the best of what you have while wasting lots of time and lots of resources (that clearly are not available).

You can also strip things down and try to redo them. Same expenditure of time and resource.

Many times these scenarios improve faster with acquisitions.

Refinement Management

This is change that makes things just a little better.

It might be the kind that goes around looking for dotted I’s and crossed t’s.

A version more fun would be taking things that are working at about 90% and finding something that is acceptable to those participating that amps up that percentage.

The worst form of this is the kind you find with schools now as a result of “No Child Left Behind”. We have schools in our area that score in the 90’s for testing and are on “Program Improvement”. They are being monitored because they just can’t seem to go from an “A” to an “A+”. Sometimes change, or at least monitoring to produce change, is ridiculous.

Remodeling Management

This is adding on change.

So acquisitions (sometimes called mergers- they are ALWAYS acquisitions, sometimes they can be mergers) fit perfectly.

Remodeling Management, just like the kind you might use for your own house, should have LOTS of pre-planning, lots of ideas fed into the pot. It should focus clearly on function. Then form. Then the two together.

Once form and function begin to flesh out process needs to be considered. Process will reveal resource needs (competency in the case of organizational change).

The remodeling analogy is my favorite for illustrating End State Change Management. It is easy for any of us to imagine our dream house. It is an easy exercise to have someone explain and describe that house (what it looks like, how it would be used and what it feels like to live in and use it). It is not too hard to then look back from that spot with that person and talk through the journey to get there. The list for process and task then starts to play out (with that future perspective).

Remodeling Management for me is the best kind of change. It looks at history, it looks at function and it looks at possibility. Seems we should all be doing that each day during a little daydream…

Reversal Management

This is the scariest pretend term of them all.

I can’t think of too many times in organizations where going back creates a positive and profitable future. (We have a recent little US election that illustrates resistance to this).

There might be one form that works though. Returning to core competency.

When organization drift off into diversity or the next best fad they can go adrift. There is sometimes a painful process of stripping away all that added frivolity and returning to what you did well at in the first place. This change means reduction of force. This change is painful. It will even be painful for those left who go back to the old ways. Even the most tried and true status quo-er will feel a little emptiness (rather than the safety they thought they would get).

This list takes a look at the past, at rearranging and at adding to the mix with some new Change Management terms.

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