2014 Change Predictions


Every year at the ACMP (Association of Change Management Professionals) conference I make a little list of the trends that will appear next year-in my head. I am usually right. ‘Nothing special about that though. Change practitioners are good at seeing patterns, knowing how things connect and taking educated guesses about what those connections mean. Maybe that is a competency. Maybe that is just paying a little extra attention to a bigger picture than others.

For this yearly prediction (parked in my head in the past now thrown into the written word) it is easy to get it right because, thanks to my location at the edge of the Silicon Valley, and senior stature, I am probably already consulting on the trend.

I can pretend I am a soothsayer :-):

2013 Change Predictions

  • Change “synonym for sustainability”
  • Tactical Backlash
  • Round Two of Change Entities
  • Trusted Advisers Return

Change “synonym for sustainability”

Judging from the character of this year’s conference and things I am seeing at client sites our next change wave is “trying to get things to stick”. The group think approaches will layer on another coat of the same hoping that something changes. (Hey that’s just like the environment that existed before we change practitioners arrived… funny things people, ha?).

The smart approaches will come out of well set up and correctly placed change entities. Those smart approaches will, more and more, be future focused. They will be less methodology/model and more perspective/attitude.

Once, I was engaged AFTER the end state.

“Help us make this work and last” was the contract. The phone will likely ring a little bit more for these next year.

Tactical Backlash

There is a quiet (barely) current of backlash going on at this year’s conference.

The words I have heard are, “low level”, “tactical”, “for the one to three year consultant”, “easy to sell, useless for high level”, “where is the strategy?” and more.

Conferences are always some version of ware-hocking and snake oil wagons. This one is no different. Change practitioners are hungry to get away from status quo, group think, their own organization-duplicated silo’s and the inability to get the ear of leaders.

The conference is heavy with internals.

I stick with my rule that change does not work without external influence. There will be, and always is, a backlash against certain kinds of external influences. The more those internals interact with single or small groups of externals (and less with the big boys… [and girls] that ceiling is still pretty rock solid) the more they will see what works and what doesn’t. Or should I say “who” works and who doesn’t?

The ACMP panel would be smart to screen for, or better ask for, some controversy, inward perspective and a shake up of our profession. (Selfishly I would love to take that on!).

Round Two of Change Entities

Round one, over the last six to seven years, is the heavily organic or functionally placed versions of Change Entities. They are not called “entities”. They are “Centers of Excellence”, “Change Functions”, “Change Groups” (that is a little better), etc.

Round two (already starting, certainly my passionate choice for engagements) are the a Entities (no quotes :-). They will be connected to the owner, have an external voice and be built to provide old fashioned OD (Organizational Development if you missed that stage of our industry) in order to develop competencies that match end states.

Round two (maybe this is three?) will have both starting from scratch at the highest owner level (preferably of the NEXT change not this one) and redoing what already exists. Organic will always be there (if only to feed our second option…sorry snark).

Trusted Advisors Return

I have been, selfishly of course, awaiting the return of the Trusted Adviser.

That role is crucial to innovation, executive development and change. When that role exists it means, pay attention here because THIS is what CM needs, a senior leader reached out and took a chance.

Cheating I am on this one, because leaders are reaching out to me this year for first level conversations (that is how this trusted adviser partnership should start- no contracting, no client/consultant relationship, just conversation and dialogue).

Trusted advisers will do many things. That list I will save for another post…

Next year, about this time, be ready for the trends of change management after the fact, a backlash to tactical approaches, advanced Change Entities and the return of the Trusted Adviser.

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