Over the years I have had countless times when I said to myself, “why isn’t there a tool to do this?”.
Once it became clear (ten years ago?) that computers and the internet were going to make it possible to do things that were impossible by hand (or at least unbelievably time consuming- how about a list of 90,000 stakeholders alphabetized?) I personally started to imagine all of the things tools might be able to do.
Seeing possibilities can make one a little disillusioned. Wishing and “alphabetizing” don’t go well together.
Eventually every one of my ideas seems to happen. My latest favorite is fluid websites that adjust to the device being used. I knew something like that would happen eventually.
The disillusioned part of the tools equation is that is takes too long for technology to develop.
The wonderful part is that some tool technology moves fast.
The even more wonderful part (for an independent external consultant at least) is that it is often hard for people to figure out what to do with these fancy tools. The vendor will tell you. (Oops more disillusioned here- countless times as a change agent my clients have had to reel back on promises the vendor swore they could keep). We can tell you from your perspective (with outside input and experience added).
When is comes to tools, question:
But all too often organizations, or an individual in that organization with buying power, buy tools based on the vendors idea of functionality. The decision should be YOUR idea of functionality. The simple way to define this category is through the next three.
Will this tool honestly facilitate ideas (if that is why you bought the tool- Adobe has an app. for Creative Cloud called “Ideas”)?
Will it help you see things you would not see without the tool? Creativity can feed risk management.
Will it, oh please yes, add some color and design to your tired organizational templates?
For a lot of tools when we think of function we think of efficiency. Think about the difference simple (as we see them now, not when they first appeared) calculators made. When you use this tool (after the learning curve) are you faster? My favorite disillusioned version of this is Excel. You would think that tool would make things faster. Most spreadsheets gets loaded with weird macros, arrows everywhere for column choices and seriously distracting every-other-row-is-a-different-color “design”.
In this tool questioning category you first have to ask yourself what is important. Data? Listing of information? Some process that relies on the tool? Then you can measure or determine efficiency. I say this because new tool choices often increase efficiency while adding “functionality” (the vendor form) that slows things down.
Organizations and the people within (but to be fair also externals trying to show effort) are fanatics for recording. We live in a Google glasses world (there’s a strange tool). Honestly, who cares?
Disillusion us with all of your data.
Are your really going to use that stuff? Now? Later?
If so then great. Get a tool that makes it easy to put that information down and easy to retrieve.
And then, for crying out loud, actually USE the data.
A tidbit for you: Lynda.com owns training for tools. They have some of the best training courses and modules I have ever seen. A client asked me what good training is/looks like…It shows the overall picture, it illustrates the process for using the tool and it puts individual components in context with the two. Lynda.com courses have overviews, a table of contents that is the process for using the tool and individual modules for specific tasks. That is well designed training. When a client asks if I can do something (say put together a SharePoint site- and fill all the roles) I can usually say yes because I have spent hundreds of hours on Lynda.com. I can always say, “with a little time, yes” thanks to this site.
Tools. They are either wonderful or they are the seeds of disillusionment. The things we can now do with tools are amazing. The amount of time wasted with the wrong tools is disillusionary. The combination makes me Wonderfully Disillusioned.
A couple of my engagements locally have allowed me to bike or jog to and from work.
Most of my clients have showers or gyms on site or close by so this is an easy way to squeeze in the workout that always gets missed.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so sticking to this gives me some eco-bragging rights.
A possible new location for a client site sent me to Google. I figured it was too far away to run every day, but might be perfect for biking.
I chose bike as the mode of transit and Google gave me the coolest map I have seen in a long time:
Not only do I now know how to ride the 12.2 miles to the client site, but I have a map of EVERY bike trail in a 15 mile circle (or bigger with one click of that minus sign). This is totally cool fast change around us.
This search was meant to be a “road bike to work” query.
Now I see a Mountain Bike is in order!
All the green surrounding the bike trails is hills, grass, OPEN SPACE. Hills mean views. Strategic thinkers LOVE to be on top of hill- above it all!
Mapping all the bike trails in your neighborhood Fast Change Around Us is instantly usable, functional and by the looks of the map I got, even artistic.
So you have a change group set up in your organization.
Things, maybe, aren’t quite going the way you expected.
Perhaps Internal Change Management Side Effects have appeared?
In my own work I spend a lot of time dialing back organizations, teams and internal practitioners to fill in things they missed.
There are some core things that HAVE to exist for change to happen. Getting a few of those “have-to’s” in place can give internal change groups a chance at that leverage and exposure (and dare I say effectiveness?) that they desperately seek.
Need some tips?
- Change your perspective.
First and foremost you HAVE to start thinking in terms of end states, solutions and goals. If you are present focused you are doomed to stay that way. Nothing wrong with the present… when it is the foundation for the future. Craft examples of the future you are going to help guide. Not the “we need this”, “we need that”. Not company x is kicking our you-know-what’s. The spot you want to be that is where you should be looking.
- Back away from the tools.
Tools are a dime a dozen. Pay me for a day and I will give you a stack of them “completely original”. A tool never caused a change. A tool never really facilitated change. A tool always takes time. That was the time you were going to use for tip #1. Without tip #1 you WILL FAIL- no matter how pretty that tool you designed or got sold.
- Give up on owner connection.
For 6 years now I have watched presentations about “leadership buy-in”. Give it up. See scapegoat in yesterday’s post. Those leaders are not listening. Lucky for you there are leaders who will listen. Not the owners, unfortunately, but the implementary leaders. Those leaders who got the buck passed to them and are now the unofficial owners. Officially they are the owners now, but stakeholders see right through that. They could really use your help (you NOT your tools).
- Partner with implementary leaders.
Teach them how to craft end states. Give them a communication plan that is both formal and informal. Create a set of templates that call out this change (yes there are some tools that pass muster). Get a quick mix of leadership interaction early in the change process (use video, audio, text, social media and surprise in person visits). Be the spokesperson and the conduit for this leader (like you wish you could do with the owner-remember you gave that up, right?). (Do this right and the leader you are working with now, will become the owner you crave in the future- call it your personal change end state).
- Establish a landing spot.
It shocks me that these change groups so feverishly set up rarely have a virtual landing spot. There are a lot of hoops to get through to create social media, even if it is just one SharePoint portal, I realize that. I have had a couple of change initiatives that were JUST social media set up, nothing else. This is HAVE #2. Without a landing spot to help differentiate, compare, contrast and put change in context you will FAIL.
- Get out of the cave and see the light.
Insularity kills change groups. Actually I have yet to see a change group be taken away (which bodes well for CM). So inward thinking makes for sick, unhealthy change groups. I can say, no generalization what so ever, there is not a leader of a change group who is more senior or more experienced than some external consultant. I, personally, have been in 70+ cultures doing something for each organization. There is no way an internal can match that. Why would you not use mine or some other external consultants knowledge? Is this about you or the results and the effect you have? Hiding in a cave has never made change happen.
Tips aside look at it this way: You are trying to help your organization get to a spot. That spot requires the talent of individuals. Those individuals need to be able to participate. What can you do to make sure the right people are lined up at the right time to use their talent to pave the way to that spot? It is your role to lay the trail to that spot.
Six tips that can help change groups catch up a little and survive even if a few pieces are missing: how you see change, what you use to get there, who you partner with, how you communicate and a suggestion to look outward instead of inward.
As an intermediate school kid I wrote a science fiction story about a world where humans were able to generate electricity through walking on special floors and exercise on machines that stored the power (treadmills, rowing machines etc.). A totally whimsical made up idea. Today I thought, “could this be possible”? Expecting some long physics explanations about how this is not possible (which I found) I got a gem, for different reasons than you may think.
The power of footfalls.
First, good for Elizabeth for taking a scientific shot at this. Second, (go to the link) why are people so cranky? Read the comments. Either a lot of snooty scientists or people who like to shoot down ideas. Scientists out there give us some examples of things that overturned the physics of their time…
I made the mistake of looking at the dates of the comments. 2008. So the idea died (right after that 7th grader wrote it down?).
Aha! Good for Google (and shame on you nasty comment people from the past). It actually happened. Fast Change Around Us footwork!
This could have been a Wednesday Wonderfully Disillusioned post heavy on the wonderful.
The second half of my mini 7th grade book was a world where people were hired to create energy for others. They were the modern Greek athletes toned and leaned to perfection. The more efficient their bodies were the more money they made and the more famous they got. Hey I was a 7th grade boy it was a fun end state!
Fast Change Around Us naysayers beware. You might just be proven wrong and petty in your stubbornness. Foot power is a good example.
I waited a few years before speaking out and honing a contrarian voice.
The balance between discerning and critical is a high wire act.
When I am not smiling on engagements and or my emails get short (my emails have their own prod –people-along-in-a-positive-way voice and tone) someone always says something. “Is anything wrong”, they say. “I’m resting”, is my response.
(By the way there is ALWAYS something wrong AND there is ALWAYS something right).
That was four lines to give me permission to comment on the latest ACMP market research report.
It could be critical (pun intended)…
This post is about the bow not the package inside
Change Management as a discipline is growing and is generally regarded as valuable, but the industry is fragmented and in need of standardization. Practitioners want certification and credentialing processes as part of the maturation of change management. About 1/3rd of organizations have some sort of formal Change Management office, but almost three quarters of Change Management practitioners must also fulfill other professional roles.
This is their “Key Themes and Findings” statement/call out
Yes Change Management is a discipline and it is DEFINITLY growing (as in number of people practicing or saying they are practicing- stop with the puns). Those who do not see it as valuable (in general) are the minority naysayers and/or number crunchers.
The industry is fragmented. Yes. And I mean that, yes, thank god! Because if it was not then that would mean someone’s relentless effort to standardize has won.
Oh no…in my excitement I forgot to read the rest of the sentence.
I will say it LOUD now (it is too late to hide my perspective) YOU WISH PROSCI. Yes I know this is an “ACMP” report. They are still one in the same Prosci/ACMP are basically interchangeable terms. (In fact when they are not that is when change management will REALLY have grown up).
Which practitioners want certification? The ones who have not been “certified” by the clients who hired them? That whole sentence:
“Practitioners want certification and credentialing processes as part of the maturation of change management.” is a load of you-know-what.
They have to be happy they could word questions in a way that gets the responses that gives them a chance to make that completely bogus generalization. Now if they had said “low level hiring managers” instead of practitioners the general would be stripped right out of this. That is exactly what the number crunchers who are losing the battle want.
And sorry, but certification is going to make us all less mature in our practice not more. (Masters and Doctorate degrees plus experience, that is certification).
I can honestly say the last sentence seems to be correct from my experience. I do mean correct for both meanings. Dedicated internal change professionals may not be a good idea. I am still on the fence for that discussion. Dedicated external practitioners is a VERY good idea. Anyone internal who can add smart change management to their work is helpful.
All of the above is my reaction (when we anticipate something and it happens our feelings are very much “reactions”… hmm any correlation there to “resistance”?) to the call out bow that sums up the whole report. Any chance it was written before the study was designed? Odds are it could have been. They (ACMP who is really PROSCI) got exactly what they wanted. Everyone thinking that CM needs some “certification” and “standardization” is a cash cow for them. Why is it I am the only one calling out this bait and sell?
In all fairness, because I am a change management consultant so I must practice the in-all-fairness approach, CM does need some agreement. It does need a glossary that is at least partially agreed upon (things like strategy/tactics, low to mid to high level consultant definition, consultant vs. contractor, internal/external understanding, etc.). It probably needs PROCSI-ish companies (as long as they are not overreaching and making a mess of CM… although, as I have said before, that just makes more work for the senior strategy consultants). CM is full of tactics- so some of the things I push against really do have a place and spot.
Personally I intend to carry on in the same way with an end state approach that assesses, clarifies and leverages people and talent. Those who are not on the standardization (commoditization?) gravy train… sorry I mean bandwagon… seem to be doing versions of the same thing. THEY are growing, maturing and working (with a little bit higher rate each time).
Think about this… to get the result intended from a report like this you have to have an end state perspective. Write the call out and then make it happen…hmmm.
There may be some who think change management needs to be stuffed into a box with crystal clear parameters and hard edges. There are others who know this practice is about people and business- neither of which can be narrowly defined. The ACMP report call out clearly delineates one of these two camps. On to the actual report tomorrow.
Consultants, you must learn the change sneak away. Contractors you must perfect this.
Here is how this works:
- Client and consultant contract (or there is an endless stream of contracts depending on how many middle men the client adds to, you know, SAVE money-huh?) for an agreed upon period of time.
- Consultant assumes anything that is a contract is enforceable (don’t make that mistake).
- Client makes mistakes chasing symptoms (because they do not want to touch root causes or because they can’t see them) change gets pushed further out.
- Client realizes that gets very expensive fast.
- Client likely begins to fear for their role with budget overage.
- Client hacks (one engagement I was on canned 100 people on the same unannounced day).
- Consultant reacts.
Don’t do number 7 consultants.
And clients, which part about the word “contract” do you not understand? I don’t have enough appendages to count the number of times this has happened (it is almost guaranteed when you go through a third-party).
Do the Sneak-away
Consultant/Contractors, as much as you want to send out that blanket email to say goodbye, don’t. Copy all the email addresses that would have been in that note and take them home for an after the fact thank you.
A reactive thank you is not that at all. It is an in-your-face-I-want-everyone-to-know-you-did-this mistake. Of course you do, just don’t.
The right way to do the sneak-away:
Graciously thank the client for the opportunity you just enjoyed.
Pretend your phone is ringing off the hook for new opportunities (that will give you a nice smile).
Walk away calmly (like a shoplifter does or people trying to not get noticed at airport security).
When you get home take a breath, rest for a second and then frantically start the networking (or calmly begin if you saw this coming- it is amazing how easy it is to see this coming after four or five rounds).
I know this is a little nasty, but I would love to see consultants start leaving a little early for better and higher paying roles so we can get back to real contracting and real consulting (and maybe even real rates).
In the mean time:
Consultants and contractors perfect your sneak-away. Calm, gracious, covert departures.
Lots of talk, again and evermore, about CM as science or art.
(My take is that we need scientific artists and artistic scientists).
Both sides have some great arguments and excellent explanations about what science is and what it tries to accomplish vs. (it is usually versus) it is hard to crunch human behavior into one or few variables. Without control of variables science doesn’t work so well.
What I find interesting is that LOTS of the academically oriented (along with the groupthink group) practitioners are hob-knobbing about this science thing and no one is doing any real studies (no, Prosci and neuroscience do not count- one could be duplicated in Survey Monkey and the other is legitimate science twisted for gain).
If, just if, someone did some science that REALLY applied to CM what would they study?
(Please chime in with comments. I am using stream of conscious for this…too busy with client work to be able to think :-)
- Positive vs. Negative
- Seeing the Future and Seeing the Present
- Root Causes
Positive vs. Negative
I would like to see an experiment around change and attitude.
One version would be whether a positive vs. negative attitude in stakeholders matters. The other would measure the approach of the change team/group.
Starting with a positive approach to everything before layering over the negative makes change possible. I am guessing the study would show that reversing the order makes change VERY difficult.
We have our comparison too. Take a change that had a resistance fighting approach vs. one that used the end state as a focus point.
Seeing the Future and Seeing the Present
I have done my own mini experiments with this just by adding a future focus lens.Those who do not understand this viewpoint have a really hard time with ANY change. When they do change their perspective the change begins to get questioned, and spun around and looked at.
That intense look at the future and the change (and THEN the present) works. I know it does. Having real science (that I didn’t pay for) to support my assertion would be fantastic.
We have many, many studies out there about motivation.
The problem is it all gets crunched into a layman’s triangle that illustrates survival (do we have to couch everything in fear and instinct?). It all leaves me wondering if food is more important or a hot shower under a roof (actually showers are way more fun outside so the roof thing must not be that important).
Show me a study that proves common sense is the best motivator and I will use it in my own practice of CM as science. Show me a study that shows taking risks has some hidden benefit and I will use that too (I can think of lots of benefits for taking risks).
I used to be in the camp of “leadership charisma guides change”. Now I am not so sure. I have seen many leaders with zero charisma that had lots of followers.
I am guessing the study that could show charisma as a positive attitude, “let’s try this” thing would be valuable for the change arena. Not that egotistic, I am the king kind of charisma though.
This one would worry me a little.
Practicality can sometimes kill change. It is easy to come up with “practical” arguments against taking risk. ‘Cause let’s face it every change is a risk.
If somehow this study showed that looking at things realistically in order to develop a change journey was the right thing to do I would quote the study.
This one I would PAY for. And then I would shamelessly market the results. I promise I would avoid marketing at a third-grade-stuff-into-a-shape level.
Do a study that shows the reason change management FAILS is because it chases symptoms rather than root causes. PLEASE!
Shoot the heck out of that bogus 70% stat. and show that actually 97.3785436% of initiatives fail. Because they pretty much do.
The reason they do is because the methods layer the same-ol’ over what is already there while spending a lot of time on the symptoms all over the organization. No one wants to touch the elephants that are the root causes.
Science could easily prove that.
Want science for change management? Maybe test: attitude, time perspective, motivation, charisma, practicality and root causes.
I sometimes joke that Change Management is in its adolescence.
Most practitioners know what needs to happen and are confident they could make it happen if they had the right tools and environment.
The have ridden go cars so driving a car seems easy.
But they are not old enough to drive legally.
And they do not realize the license does not make anyone better, just certified at some level.
So to get this passion and confidence to work effectively for individuals and organizations, what does Change Management need?
- Diverse Talent
- Better Partnerships
- More Mentoring
In no particular order (because some may rely on others) here is a list that would be helpful:
We, as an industry or profession, are much more visible and credible than we were just 5 –10 years ago.
Change Management roles are all over, internal and external. Most projects now have line items for CM. Program almost always do. Anyone who is starting a transformation without CM would be seen as a little looped and out of touch.
Whether that exposure is the right kind is debatable.
Prosci with its tactical middle of the organization approach (I am not impressed with their new “Enterprise” offerings) gave us a TON of exposure. I would be happy to have that reduced to something measured in pounds. There is exposure and there is credibility. The kind of exposure they have given has reduced credibility. (Although as I have said before that does make senior practitioners look more credible).
Change management needs more exposure, but the right kind.
With exposure can come influence.
To have people know about CM and understand it at some level is fantastic. For that exposure to turn into reach outs and connection from leaders is something different.
We will know we have influence when senior executives (SVP and higher) begin to contract directly with consultants. The trusted adviser role is significant for influence. Multiple versions of that role would signal CM has arrived, in the right places.
I meant this as multiple specialties being able to feed into the big CM spot.
Now I look at my own category and think if we had diverse talent within individuals that are practicing change perhaps we could gain exposure and influence. We may want to practice pure consultative CM. In reality we have to be able to do that and get our hands dirty with the tactical work of spreadsheets, training, logistics and a little project management here and there.
If we can not get the exposure and influence at the highest levels (I have been watching upwards of 10 years and this has not happened yet) then we must get real good at partnering.
We need to partner across verticals to create horizontal change management.
We need to partner with project managers and business leads.
We need relationships with director level subject matter experts because that is where the to-do lists get done.
We need to be able to develop loose partnerships with functions in order to push for new rules and new guidelines- if we ever expect to address root causes that stop or slow change.
We need to share.
I have been flattered in the last year or two to have junior practitioners ask for help on different things.
My experience has placed me in over 70 cultures and environments, but I do not always know how that translates into something to give back to our profession. Those junior practitioners are quick to give examples of how that might work.
And so I to get mentored in a way.
They catch me up, they question me, they agree and disagree. And that exchange makes me better and, hopefully more credible.
Change Management needs some exposure that leads to influence that s supported by diverse talent, all of which feeds back into the profession through mentoring and engagement at different levels.
Have you ever noticed kids are attracted to things with a generation skip?
While Fast Change is going on around them (no matter the generation, my great grandmother saw TONS of change from buggies to planes) it is endearing, fascinating and a curiosity that kids like their grandparents stuff. If you wait a while to have kids you get lucky enough to share the same interests.
What did my kids want for their birthdays?
Not an iPad, or music or posters for the wall.
No they wanted full seasons of Gilligan’s Island and I Dream of Jeanie.
At first we thought it was because they knew they could get screen time out of it. Then they started asking us to watch with them. They wanted to make it a FAMILY NIGHT. That is some fast change in some different direction- back and back fast. Did I ever say this Fast Change series was going to always be about moving into the future?
Maybe we need a little speed backwards once in a while.
Someone said to me the other day, “I never buy books anymore, got my Kindle. But don’t ever take away my morning paper!”
My youngest daughter (7 at the time) found a crossword puzzle in the paper one day and realized she could answer some of the clues. Our “thing” together now is to sit in front of the fire (we are one of the few families to still have our real wood fireplace… don’t tell our California neighbors they will come shut us down) and do crosswords together. It is fun to use one of those little laser powered LED flashlights. Now there is a confusion of change in both directions!
While we are on the topic of old TV shows.
Have you ever noticed how many of those episodes of old shows you have seen? Did you hound your kids about “screen time” after that realization or before? I might give away my age here (I watched TV with four generations so some of the shows were created before I was born): Howdy Doody, Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Disney on Sunday night, Green Acres (my kids LOVE Arnold), The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family (come on you know you watched that show),etc.
Now I can’t wait for my kids to get a little older so we can grab Cheers, Friends, Monty Python, The Office… the list goes on. And, honest, I don’t even like TV (or screen time other than writing).
I throw this out there for the endearing nature of children, their purity of thought when the world around them is literally blowing up and for the tie this gives us to change.
History has value. Tradition has stickiness that is good. When it comes to embracing change it might be working the old into the new that moves us forward and back at the same time.
It is Wednesday. So I am Wonderfully Disillusioned.
I spent the earlier part of the week at the ACMP conference. This is the spot to go for change management thought, exchange and knowledge. Or it is supposed to be. This week makes me feel like CM is in some sort of arrested development-or reverting back to some previous state.
One session talked about change management silo’s. No not client and internal silos that get in the way of change-silos within change approaches, specifically “OCM” work. Practitioners (at least the internal ones) have copied the things they are supposed to be addressing.
Many of the sessions talked about internal change entities with lots of fanciful ways to “report”. At a panel presentation, when I whispered, after someone else’s question, “who would this change group report to”, “THE CEO”, there was elephant-in-the room-laughter and then an uncomfortable pause while the panelists re-crafted their answers. They all knew they did not report to the CEO and should.
There was lots of talk about gaining sponsorship of executives and building capacity and influence internally. You know like the conference 5 years ago. I had too many deja-vu moments and not because solid change management approaches were being reiterated with fresh faces.
The keynote talked of brain research (without ever really showing the actual studies) that emphasized fear and reward as if we are all out hunting Mastodons… much like five years ago when the conference had another name. Research with assumptions is research with the intended result- not necessarily something that is usable (sellable yes). Clients beware any company created in tangent with “research”.
I write this before our panel. We are hoping to spark some creative (and possibly inward looking) thought. Maybe some wonderful comes out of that exchange.
Where is the wonderful now you ask?
- The conversations at the tables. One attendee, after an animated discussion about things that are not being presented at the conference, said to me, “this is what I came for, where do I get this?” The Change Management profession suffers from a debilitating (soon if they do not change themselves) groupthink. Comments like this show some questioning is going on behind the scenes. That is WONDERFUL.
- The interest in internal capacity/capability and external voices. I am, of course, thrilled that to a person there is agreement that externals bring a voice. When those voices are future facing, empathetic to the current environment and with status quo breaking tones things are wonderful.
- Change Management is growing. Growing influence. Growing acceptance. Growing in general. That is wonderful. (I purposely left out growing capability- see the first paragraph).
This years change management conference has shown me that much of the CM space has become a mirror image of the things practitioners are supposed to change. That sells. Judging from aside conversations and interactions away from the formal presentations this will change. That will be wonderful. I will be back next year, hopefully to be a part of that.