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Languaging Archives - Garrett's Change Management Blog

The One Minute Change Readiness Assessment


Are you ready for change? “No”
Are you ready for change? “Yes”

Readiness assessment done.
And that tells me what?

If you want to know an organizations “tolerance for change” (or any other made up term that tends to avoid addressing the real issues with change) start with the owner of the change. That might be the CEO, maybe an SVP, or for smaller change a mid level leader within a function.

Do they have any idea what the end state is and what they are proposing (not the business case- the real why from the people side)? If they don’t (hint: they rarely do) then you could easily say the organization is not ready for change. If they say yes go next to those who will have to represent and implement the change.

Same question.

If they both give you good answers that illuminate the end state and show they understand how that end state will be different for others then you can test that description with stakeholders.

Some may have a lot of questions and a lot of feedback (“resistance-assumers” that does not mean they are pushing back). Some may not. Whether they are “ready” or not is insignificant.

What is significant is that they understand their value for the end state and that leadership has articulated the connection between work and a bigger picture context.

Good change leaders CREATE readiness.

They know asking for it is a waste of time.
IMHO two cents worth having watched practitioners turn organizations that ARE ready into those that are not with all their “quantitative measurement”.

And yes this might take a little longer than a minute…

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Change in Groups OR One on one?


Organic organizations create this chain of events:

Committees “decide”, creating lots of meetings (and meetings within meetings), causing lots of one on one behind the scenes conversations, including sending the meeting “deck” before the one on one, so everyone is spoken to before they are spoken to… together.

Exactly the way you do things in your organization?

I said nothing about change. This is the operational structure. It does convert to change though, just double everything, in effect talking twice before you talk the third time.

It doesn’t take a statistician to figure out this means that anyone important asked to a meeting will have at least one meeting to add. This is PERSON by PERSON!

Don’t think your organization is special in doing this. I can quickly count 5 Fortune 100 firms that I know do this. That likely means there are many more.

Chinese Whispers or Telephone

This is the game where one person whispers something in someone else’s ear which then gets “repeated” to the next person. You only get one chance to be heard. Inevitably the message is very different by the time it gets to the last person.

Telephone shows us this organic pattern corrodes messages and possibly creates alternate competing messages with “translation”.

Informal Reach-Out

In my own work (assuming this organic pattern is not so severely controlled that I can’t talk to someone without permission) I have a separate informal plan. There are always power people in the organization, there are always discerning stakeholders who are worth having individual time with, there is always the informal-stay-ahead-of-the-work connections to make. So at one level I get this hand holding pattern.

When I do this it is part of a broader plan to have the message NOT get diluted when it goes to the next person. Rather I look to have the message translated into that persons own words and perspective. (They typically represent a group that will understand that language).

Planning keeps us from doing things automatically… that make little sense.

What is the Reason for This?

I think the reason is that those individuals who are being “reached-out” to are responsible for things to a group of people. Because of this, and other, organic patterns, they never really feel comfortable about the information. They can just see stepping up to represent something that was represented to them incorrectly and then taking a leadership hit for the effort. So no one steps up and everyone expects to be in the Telephone line. Rinse and repeat. Over and over and over.

My Change Management Tweak

Patterns and behaviors sometimes have to be pushed and tweaked in small steps.

For this set of patterns and behaviors:

  1. Lose the deck-for-the-meeting approach just once and meet IN PERSON to talk about the information.
  2. This is comical, but not entirely impossible if you can get people to see the pattern- have a meeting WITH THE GROUP (in person or virtual) before the “official” meeting. And call them informal and formal. Basically make a little fun (self deprecating with everyone self deprecating) of this silliness.
  3. Send the deck out for review and lose the “talk to everyone ahead approach” (you might want to double the length of the meeting- you are spending the same amount of money and time doing it individually- the results will likely be similar… and you start changing the pattern).
  4. Just a thought… get leadership to start owning, prioritizing and deciding (not in groups)… just a thought.

Five tips for addressing the meeting-before-the-meeting-to-protect-everyone-at-the-meeting organic pattern in organizations. Take away some one on one to make the one with many efforts work a little better. (Little tweaks to address a big problem).

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Change Management Horizontals


For Change, and for strategy, horizontals exist within the organization.

Each level has a role, obviously for operations, but additionally for translation, communication and leadership in connection to change. This is often misunderstood, misrepresented and rarely tackled by change practitioners. If change management fails (which is a dubious statement considering all the things in the way) it is because horizontals are not understood and do not fulfill their potential role for change. (Read that again if your organization also has weak operational strategy).

You can look at this from the “top” and think cascade. You can look at this from the “bottom” and see the expectation chain. You can start anywhere in the middle to figure out your own roles, responsibility and possibility. We will start at the top since big change (as in transformational, truly, my favorite) must begin with the owner and disseminate through the organization (note I did not say cascade).

The Horizontals

The Chief Executive

Typically this is the CEO.

The larger the organization the more this person has an external focus. I use the term figurehead which I am told can seem derogatory. A figurehead can have charisma, be good at representation and smooth things out (nothing bad about that). In a smaller organization (or a founder based-still company) the CEO is half inside and half outside the organization.

For change this person is both the dad (or mom these days) who comes home and must dole out the discipline AND the guy (or woman) who takes you over to the school to play ball and laugh. They can be leveraged for either, play one role strongly or play both at the right time. I like to think of them as the “no” you never really use (once you start using no and doling out punishment each successive occasion gets a little weaker). They are also the holder of the compliment that is oh so rare.

They translate out to the external environment.

They communicate the connection of the change to the future of the organization (both in and out of the company). They are usually too disconnected to have leadership ability for change (this is less true in smaller organizations).

High Level Leader

This is the owner of the change.

They set the vision for the organization operationally. For change they must learn to describe end states, especially their own, in multiple ways. They are the ones who can turn that place, that spot that will exist at the end of the change, into a picture and a feeling that people can grab on to. They set the tone, they start leadership trust and they are the lever for all the other horizontals. A present and engaged owner is a godsend for change.

Translation for the high level leader is turning the idea into something that seems and feels tangible (note it is not actually tangible until we get to the other horizontals). Communication is visibility for the end state, for acknowledgement along the way and for high level leadership of the change process. Leadership has some cheerleading to it, and at times, some hard truth leading.


The Implementary Leader is the one who makes the most important translation- vision to objective.

That great idea is all well and good, but what does that mean? What will pull people to that spot? If a stakeholder were to stand at that end state and look back what will they say was the grand accomplishment? This person must be able to make that translation- the first step toward tangible change.

Their role in the change process is the translation to purpose.

They must communicate their own interpretation of the end state from a position of expertise. If they can articulate how they fit in for end states then they can make the translation for others. Communication, for them, is often connected to some division of the organizations strategy- pillars is the most used term. “They” for this horizontal may mean multiple people. Co-implementary leaders is very common. It works well if they can disconnect a bit from their operational, functional roles and lead their cohorts stakeholders as well as their own (which reciprocates back and forth and, you hope, smoothes out silos).

Program Level

Program level leads manage goals and goal setting.

They are the first level senior leadership in the organization with the role of making things happen. (Yes sometimes the role of translating orders into instant harried work). They must understand how the idea turned into a vision, what made that become objectives and what the goals will be to both make that happen and tie people to the end state and change.

Multiple streams of goals must be managed at this level. This leader may even have responsibility for multiple initiatives (which then have multi-program/multi-project components). They are the sponsors (there WILL be more than one at this horizontal). A sponsor contributes, participates and encourages others.

They make the translation to something people can put their hands, hearts and heads too.

Communication here is to make clear end states and what that might mean, in general, for expertise, work, people and organizational changes. They are the ones who show how to put the blue blocks together, the yellow in a stack and the white side by side. They help organize at a high level view- that is their leadership role and strength when done well.

Translation to Work/Time

At the project level all that vision, a few objectives and a stack of goals must become work.

The project level Facilitator gets all the ducks lined up in  a row. They make sure that the right people are ready, know who comes before them and who they hand off to and what the time on the watch says. Translation  here is to tangible. It does not get any more tangible than people working hard together on task.

They translate grand schemes into what people value- their own skill and sweat.

This person, assuming the leaders previous did a good job, can make change worth it. Communication here has a chance to compliment, to build trust, to make connections to other horizontals, to wield more power and influence than the organization officially gives them. If that is used wisely the best kind of leadership happens to support change- leading by example right next to the people you are modeling for.

Translation to Specifics

The biggest widest horizontal, the one that is less siloed than all the others and the place where the ultimate translation happens- idea to task- is here.

This horizontal is what my kids call the “worker bees”. They mean that in a complimentary way. They mean people are doing stuff that produces results you can see. A worker bee moves the leaves out of the way. A worker bee writes the code that supports the ultimate function of the software. Those bees tap keys that save the data for decisions, corrections and revenue.

The sad part is that most initiatives force all these people (stop for a second and think that this horizontal, in many ways, is actually EVERY stakeholder, at every level) to make their own translations.

Because while they are silently screaming communication out not much is coming in, or down, that helps place work/people in context with idea/end state. They often lead themselves. They can be very good at organically directing needs and ideas through and up the organization. They get really frustrated at the slowness, the silos and status quo when they can see easy solutions. (And to think, you have been calling that “resistance”).

There you have it. The six horizontals and their role as translators, communicators and leaders of change.

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Semi-silent Change Practitioner


When it comes to mediating, understanding and guiding people, silence can be golden.

It gives you time to hear perspective.

It gives you time to see interaction (assuming you are in person).

It gives you time to think about what you might say.

Which, hopefully, often, means you realize saying nothing still helps.

But there are many times when that golden silence masks, hides and avoids.


As a practitioner I find one of the most interesting and challenging parts of my role to be deciding whether to speak or stay silent.

Externals have lots of advantages not given to internals:

  • There is the assumptions (usually true, but not necessarily) that the external is more knowledgable so their words may carry more meaning.
  • Externals can make skips up the ladder to have dialogue with leaders much easier than internals (sometimes we have to “get permission” or “get introduced” but that is an internal formality I go along with, it ends up helping to leverage empowerment).
  • Externals are sponges for talk, conversation and information and stakeholders know that, people are willing to say things to us in private, that can be very helpful to change, that they would not say to anyone else.
  • Because everyone knows externals will be gone at some point I think it feels safer to interact and trust them (which, yes, seems to be the opposite foundation for trust).

It is because of these things that externals need to speak out.

It is a semi-silent dance though:

  • Say the wrong thing and someone will try to get you removed (I have had a couple of instances where a stakeholder tried to use their political clout to get rid of me. I stayed and they “developed new behaviors”).
  • Say the wrong thing and you may tweak an important stakeholder in the wrong way, which could slow down your change process. People can get tweaked easily so this one is a land mine.
  • Say something with a little too much flair and passion and you become the center of attention. That is not the place for the practitioner to be- visible maybe, but not the center. A center-of-attention consultant can end up enabling some of the wrong things by taking ownership of work that should be internal. When externals do the work of internals dependence starts and a mess ensues when the consultant leaves (see above- consultants ALWAYS leave).
  • Say something wrong that somehow does not match that organizations cultural norms and it can be embarrassing. Note though: doing so ON PURPOSE can be powerful.
  • Saying something may lead you to ask yourself (why did I say that?) either for the above reasons or just because it really did not need to be said.

We assume it is harder to listen than speak. It is often culturally easier to stay silent (not always the same as “listening”). The toughest is deciding when to speak. And so we do the semi-silent dance of sound and silence.

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Change Management Views


This is the view from my office window.

Mt. Diablo, seen partially here, is 3,848 feet high and plenty wide, surrounded by cities and towns. There are many, many versions of this picture, “Mt. Diablo from my window”.

So goes change.

Change is ultimately individual.

Corporate change requires a lot of hands, heart and talent.

The change process eventually narrows down to one person doing a specific task.

Put all those tasks together and you can get change.

So change management through its practitioners and leaders must learn to frame explanations, messages and communications from the perspectives of many individuals. The practitioner does this in message form while the leader must be able to speak from different viewpoints.

Practice this talent of looking at change from someone else’s vantage point. Practice standing at their end state and looking back. Practice asking the questions needed to get better at this. “Poo-poo” (as my kids would say) its significance at your own peril.


  • Emotional ties are important. Is there meaning to this change? In health care many changes connect directly to saving lives and helping people. Do you see that for your message and can you make the tie seen through a different window than your own?
  • Change of pattern. At the end state will this person be doing things in a different order? Is it the same list of things or is the process changed? If the pattern is changing does that mean ingrained habits will have to do the same? Can you explain these new patterns in a makes sense way? Is is faster? Is it easier? Is it more fun?
  • Environment. Many big changes in organization include space moves. Changing environment can be a positive, negative or neutral thing. Can you see this individual end state as positive, from their eyes? Are you guessing they will see otherwise? Coming to terms with that is part of the change process. Understanding this should not be the sole responsibility of the individual. Learn to explain and talk through end states.
  • Measures of success. Are you changing the way these individuals will be measured, rewarded and compensated? This is obviously an important part of everyone’s working life. Changes here have to have good explanations. They may not always be the ones the individual wants to hear, but leaving them out will block change.
  • Reporting. Big change often has organizational design components to it. So people end up not only in a different spot, but also reporting to a different person. It is very important that leaders make sense of this rearrangement. I can honestly say that a big portion of these rearrangements are of the “chairs on the Titanic” type. Sorry but this talent will reveal change that does not make sense too.

Most important is that this is “my” view. It will not change unless I move to a different window. I have seen beautiful pictures of the mountain from the other side. You could rattle off all the “benefits” of having that view rather than the one I have and probably never get me to change. Put me at that spot, later, doing things that produce those benefits and help me to see the new picture and change becomes a possibility.

Change Management needs to be about seeing the world through individual windows. The exercise in doing so forces practitioners and leaders to make sense of the change. Getting good at this makes change possible.

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You Drive a Car, not Change


There is a long list of words that do not help for languaging change.

The use of those words is heavily influenced by “gurus” from the past, from the project focus stranglehold and from the comical (if it weren’t so detrimental) use of business speak.

Words signal perspective. Perspective signals approach. Approach effects change. You can choose to have that effect be positive or not so. Choose wisely. The negative effects are barely visible, but add up over time to weak change efforts.

I found one that should be easy to explain.

“Driving Change”

You “drive” cars and maybe trucks and motorcycles and things with engines. Drive change and I guarantee you will have  a lot of people sitting out the trip. I cringe when I see documents for the orchestration of change (there’s a big fancy synonym for “drive”) use the actual term “drive change”.

Back to my warning: this signals those involved (or worse those “driving” the design of change) think change is about pushing, so they will likely push very hard with everything they do, people do not like to be pushed (pulled yes). A negative pattern will follow. The pushing doesn’t work so the pusher increases their effort. The increase in effort changes unwillingness to rebellion (or something less revolutionary). Revolution is one kind of change…

What You Can “Drive”

If you absolutely need to be driving something look to task. You can drive a to do list. You can drive a process within a phase (don’t drive the change process). You can drive an individual (likely related to task and development) if they acknowledge that is OK and helpful.

You can drive perspective around something (not change). You can push an agenda or a tool or the implementation of parts of IT change.

What you can’t drive is behavioral change.

Who is the Driver of Change?

Not the practitioner! Not the change leader! Not a falsely empowered mid level “champion”!

The “driver” (I keep using quotes because that means so called- so-called words are easy to sweep away) of behavioral change at least is… the individual.

If they choose to “drive” their own change that might be good. In the case of specifics like individual task they may be willing to delegate the driving to someone else. Think about that though. The real driver delegates and then becomes a passenger. Ha. Same thing happens when one person insists on driving…

What Word Do We Use Then?

For the practitioner: you guide, you mentor, you direct (if you must have something that makes you look like you are in charge), you assist, you explain, you reveal. Practitioners must be semi-silent leaders. As soon as they take charge stakeholders tend to move to the back seat and watch the scenery.

For the change leader: you model, you too mentor, you demonstrate, you explain, you describe, you interact, you lead (lead begs following unlike driving which indicates control).

For the external consultant creating a change structure: you stop. Stop following the outdated change approaches from the past. CM is maturing, has matured. That stuff doesn’t work any more- stakeholders are too wise. When I see this approach in documents it signals to me the consultants really do not know what they are doing (and are part of the 95% out there who curate rather than produce new content).

If the hidden effect of words intrigues you (and you can handle my wonderful disillusionment) here are some more posts:

Change Management Don’t Use Words

Hidden Word Meanings

Impact is a Business Word

Where the Word Impact Might Make Sense

Change is not driven. It is guided. It is developed. It is shared. It is individual. It is behavioral. It happens because the place to arrive at makes sense and includes you and your expertise. You can continue to “drive” your car though…

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Change Synonyms- Last One

This gets us to the end of the change synonym list (for now, languaging always creates new words):

Turnover Management

This is either a calmer name for mergers and acquisitions or it has something to do with succession management.

M & A change management is often about the process of turning over something. Purchases are made typically for assets. Usually the people do not fall into that category. There are, thankfully, some good examples of companies buying for expertise (my favorite is the Adobe purchase of Macromedia). The asset purchase scenarios might be the one time where the business case must be the communication to stakeholders, rather than an end state description.

Business cases do not have the same sway as a good end state description. Maybe that is because business cases are usually about assets while end state descriptions are about people. If people must leave and the business part is to survive those left must know why. Part of the success of the merger and the change involved is a solid “why” explanation.

The second version of this might be succession management. There is the process of figuring out who is right where- a certain kind of end state description. And there is the environment that will exist, must be spurred along and that will need guidance, with the new leaders.

Variance Management

This would be a change management that monitored and guided tweaks here and there.

It would be a process of letting people stretch. but not too far.

Measurement would have a lot to do with effect from effort. If customizing, tweaking and stretching takes a lot of time then it must benefit many stakeholders. If the variance takes a little time and does not take time away from others then it would be OK. Be careful with variance though- the time factor usually becomes an issue much later.

Now that technology for some things is getting to a maturity level where there is not a constant upgrade cycle, customization problems are beginning to show up. At the time it may have made sense to tweak, stretch and vary, later the multiple mistakes become glaringly obvious- not to be fixed with yet another upgrade. You can’t “upgrade” culture.

Variation Management

Same as above just different versions of the same thing.

But this is also the change management that happens when you get a little to “pilot crazy”. As in, “let’s test this out first”…”that was pretty good let’s test a few more things on the next group”, etc. It does not take long before you need a spreadsheet to figure out who to go back to, how to explain you are taking away or adding because of the other pilots (who got things that made it easier-“why didn’t we get that in our pilot?”).

Variation is helpful in controlled environments a little bit at a time. Variation as a process can be a nightmare.

Variety Management

This must be the change management that has to take place when an organization goes CM crazy and lets everyone in the middle come up with, get marketed in to, or take some “certification” for,  change approaches. Variety Management is the CM that must somehow stitch together all these efforts (and all the internal politics the goes with them and that lets them happen!) into something that makes sense on its own.

Variety is the spice of life right?

…have you ever tasted one of those concoctions little kids who can reach the spice cabinet come up with?

Vicissitude Management


The alphabet has forced us to finish with the worst synonym.

Vicissitude Management is change that is unwelcome (some definitions do say favorable or unfavorable just unpredictable).

This one is easy. Vicissitude must be change that is basically based on layoffs.

Change of seasons is an example of vicissitude. The day after a huge layoff is certainly a “seasonal” change. Pretty much like a massive blizzard blanketing the place.

Let’s finish on a positive note though and say that this is the change management that must happen when things turn out to be different than you expect. Or when you anticipate unexpected results and know you will have to guide stakeholders through the unexpected.

Because many changes are nothing if not unexpected. That is part of the fun…

The “v’s” for change synonyms cap off our list with small tweaks, unexpected “season like” change and flipping things over into something completely new (which likely eliminated something along the way).

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Change Languaging- More Synonyms

A continuation of substitute words for Change management to help us think of change from a different angle:

Tempering Management

Do we control and govern when trying to get things to change or do we dilute and soften?

This is interesting: control and govern is the archaic definition of “tempering” while dilute and soften is the modern version.

The old-fashioned Tempering Management model then would be to keep things (people?) well contained, to manage communications, to keep leaders hands off. This archaic practice for change makes sure the end state (not that there is one or they even know the term) is crystal clear with no variation from the original plan. This version calls itself successful over expenditures and time sped up. Since this approach is not internalized at any point there would be no follow through to test or measure effects of the change and approach (those kinds of effects that appear and are expensive- but taken as a hit by someone down the road not the change group).

The modern Tempering Management approach would likely dilute those hard-core governing tactics of the archaic version. End states would be imagined and described but the expectation would be that the tougher stuff might be softened and diluted a bit in order to bring everyone along the change path. Or maybe the diluting and softening would just be in timing, intensity and expectations.

If you were to use this term it would be strongest as a term that showed you as the owner and the change team understand the difficulties of behavior and organizational change. You would be signaling, “we are all in this together” by showing  compromise, humility and empathy.

Transformation Management

Hey we found a synonym that is actually used!

Although it can be argued that it is OVERUSED.

I snicker when I see change initiatives that are “transformational” (the term they use always questionable and open to debate) being approached with a present-to-future-gap-filling model. Transformational is completely changing (you know like kids transformer toys- whoa how did you do that? Can you turn it back?…you can which makes the connection to change and the gap approach a little scary).

Transformational Management must approach change as the-future-is-where-we-want-to-be perspective. I shortened that hyphen list for you: End State Model. Transformational Management would/is goal oriented. It is also heavily behavior change based. Lots of things will be different in that future. The model, approach and perspective must be to define how that looks, feels and operates and then figure out the list of needs to eventually be there, know you are there and operate and work effectively.

Dig through my posts you will find LOTS of talk, banter and information about end states and transformation.

Transition Management

This might be the change management approach within Transformational Management. I push against transitions, but languaged well, understanding the move from now to then can be helpful. There are also genuine transitions with change of responsibility, hand offs of work and succession. Managing those smaller events helps the larger effort. Transitions need a lot of “why” explanations.

In my own work I do a lot of Transition Management at the individual level trying to get people/leaders to think in different ways. I still feel most change does not need a transition if there is understanding and trust. Since one of the two is almost always missing transitions are here to stay.

Transmutation Management

This one has a great definition- evolutionary change.

Would that be Transformational Change cone many times? Over years or generations?

Maybe this is the approach for HUGE global societal change. We could use some Transmutational Management for politics here in the US (crunched into a quick time frame- there are so many solutions right in front of their eyes…).

Another definition is to change one element to another naturally or artificially. In business we rarely have time for “natural change” (a tempering management approach might create that time though). So using Transmutation Management likely means artificially speeding up an evolutionary process or in our case change of process inside the organization (complete change to new elements). My best example would be the elimination of the performance management system to be turned into something else- that is more effort and solution based than subjectively political.

Turn Management

This one might be the most fun of all, and the easiest.

Let’s just go that way instead of this way.

The Turn Management consultant would have to be on their toes all the time anticipating possibilities and obstacles.

The scary thing is a lot of big change management is like this. Being brought in late, like at the start of the project work, often forces senior consultants to point the way and block the incorrect path, hoping the client will be able to deal with the results. That is the most stressful kind of change management because it is “scapegoat in a package”.

If we make the big change into Turn Management we can blame failure on the consultants…

Little to big, in the middle and at the end these five new synonym change management approaches might help you look at your change a little differently.

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More Change Management Replacement Terms

More synonyms for change:

Revision Management

This could be the term for IT software upgrades.

An upgrade tends to reveal the way the previous version was used. Customization is the revelation. Understanding why the customizations took place can be a gauge for the new version. Does the upgrade satisfy previous customizations?

If so you have an excellent head start for the end state description.

If not you must either question the value of the upgrade or address the customization problem. And by problem I mean the cultural form. Somehow customizations were allowed to happen. Digging into this is a change management type all its own. I am on round two for clients for Revision Management.

Revolution Management

This one is fun.

Is this change management for big overturning efforts by a surprise group?

Is this Organic Change Management with anger and purpose built in?

Or maybe this is the other meaning for revolution- change management that just keeps going around in circles.

This could be a higher level change management that tweaks and perfects from change to change too.

Shift Management

Shift Management could be the process of scheduling and monitoring resources.

It could also be the management of small change that pushes things in a new direction.

Our customization example earlier might fit here. When customizations are halted lots of little patterns have to be addressed. There has to be a shift in trust. The new tool must be trusted. Stakeholders must be able to trust that management and the change team understand the functionality of the tool. And the underlying reason for customizations must be revealed on the cultural side (hint this has more to do with power and autonomy than the fix customizations may have created).

Surrogate Management

When an initiative is big and broad there will be high level program change consultants and there will be project level implementation practitioners. It is the role of the program agents to help guide those within the projects- their surrogates in a way.

It is this area the mentoring and managing of surrogates that is ripe for the addition of OD (Organizational Development). What better time than during a big change that requires new competency to train and develop? And what a waste if Surrogate Management is not weaved into your change.

Switch Management

I picture a big panel of buttons that can be switched to make things happen. This stakeholder needs to participate- pull the switch. This stakeholder is resisting- push that button. This performance process needs to be set aside for a year- that big button there will fix this.

This could be change management that forces an instant move to something else, a switch. Maybe it’s process. Maybe it is some cultural perspective (customizations are ok or not is an example again). There are so many times when just looking in a different direction or switching the way you do something, can effect quick change.

More additions to a terms list that will probably never get used. It is interesting to look at change synonyms though- a good exercise in seeing change from different angles.

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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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