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Change Archives - Garrett's Change Management Blog

Fast Change Around Us- High beams?

AudiHeadlight

Audi headlights are causing a stir here in the US.

Not because the light is more refined and provides less glare to oncoming traffic, but because regulators have to figure out new technology before they can make rules.

(There is either less regulation in Europe or they are better at this change thing- the lights are OK there).

And so we have our Fast Change Around Us for the Week.

From the article, “It’s hard for government to compete for the best engineering, technical, and legal talent when there are no lofty salaries or stock options, only good medical plans. “

Some changes, in fact many of the fast changes I have written about, are entirely welcome. Except, apparently to those who have to figure out the improvement.

Headlights

Look around, day and night, at the cars you see.

There are some awesome headlights out there!

They have all the loopty-doo snakey LED things going on. They  have that cool blue color. They  have half the footprint with twice the power. They are inconspicuous and more functional.

They have really changed since the days of buggy round boring lights.

Another thing about headlights… When was the last time you actually used high beams?

And remember stepping on that little button on the floor to turn on the high beams (seriously dated myself there)?

So think of this behavior change: We used to be very careful about clicking the high beams, afraid we might blind someone coming around the corner. Now we get regular headlights that are nice to those coming our way and serve the purpose of a permanent high beam. Or we would if the regulators could figure this out…

 

Which brings me to an organizational tie to change. How many times are there organizational changes that require leadership to catch up to the change?

Some fast change is picture perfect, but maybe just a little TOO fast. It appears lighting technology, especially for car headlights falls into that too fast category.

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Linkedin, Cover Letters, Dinosaurs and the Future

ChangeManagementDinosaur

 

No cover letter, but link to Linkedin profile discussion thread- here.

Fascinating.

A little sad.

300+ comments to illuminate human nature and change.

As with most Linkedin group discussions this started with a simple question and morphed into a full on discussion- this one on recruiting and social media/the future.

The connection to change:

Linkedin

In this case is an example of an alternative to established practices (status quo). A profile is not a replacement for cover letters or resumes, but it could be. I, personally, have had a couple of roles due strictly to Linkedin as the forward facing entry to my background and experience.

Linkedin could become, and likely is in many cases (and also is behind the process when a recruiter or client looks at a profile on their own) an adjunct to other displays of a persons career record.

Cover Letters

Like cover letters.

In general does a cover letter seem strange to you now? Or does it make sense and those who question it seem strange?

A cover letter is a specific written document (yes it can and pretty much is now, paperless, but it is a little like a book- who knows how long those things will be around) that can place the candidate in the advertised role ahead of the competition. It is meant to be used to prove you are the right fit.

It is also a complete waste of valuable time for candidates since many of those fantastic, specific, time consuming CV’s are never even read by a real person.

It used to be a great tool to get attention- if you were a good writer… which may have NOTHING to do with the role you are applying for. Because there are alternatives it is worth looking, comparing and using both, all or the new stuff. Sticking with the old is risky though.

Dinosaurs

It was risky just to BE a dinosaur.

Not that they had any choice…

The Future

What if they did, those dinosaurs, have a choice?

What if those who risk losing a good candidate by adhering to their own or their organizations antiquated (maybe) procedures could tweak things a little to ensure survival?

That might just make for a future better than the inevitable.

People

When it comes to change we are not talking about dinosaurs who didn’t have a chance (or a choice). We are talking about people. People can change rules. People can make procedures grey until the grey becomes black and white in a new and better way (could be time to move to the grey thing, again, at this point if it took awhile to get there).

 

In our example individual people with very little control over their system could just go look at the profile. They could suggest the ad read differently (giving the profile a chance might be a consideration). They could just set aside any rigid discomfort they personally may feel and accept the application without a cover letter.

Or they could dig their feet in and intensely defend the need to follow directions (do what you are told, make my job easier….).

If everyone followed directions made by someone else, perfectly, with no questioning the world would be a very different place.

I will let you decide if that is good or not.

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Start Correctly Quick Wins for Change Management

You can get quick wins for Change Management by starting correctly- before you address your first task.

Without starting correctly you may need some wins just to get back to even again.

  • Have some kind of external influence
  • Place change leads as high as they need to be
  • Start “change management” well before you think you need to
  • Be careful of tactical approaches to strategic change
  • Think horizontal
  • Understand end state descriptions are crucial

Have some kind of external influence

You will be changing what you are used to and what you and others “own”. To expect every stakeholder (especially those higher up with lots to lose) to embrace both an understanding of change and an awareness of their connection to the end state and the present is, well, a little crazy. Insert some kind of external influence to moderate that thought process and to help draw the picture of what things look like later. That dialogue will lay out a path of both quick wins and long term changes.

More and more I am convinced that organizations transforming need a single high level trusted change advisor to both insert that external influence and tie things together as the timeline rolls out. You could potentially get the right kind of influence with a big or small firm but, I think, you will need to rely on single individuals within those companies. Why not just bring in a single individual whose sole purpose is to get to end state solutions?

Place change leads as high as they need to be

There really is little point in having a change practitioner placed too low in the organization (in relation to the change). They will spend most of their time trying to use organic methods to get the ear of executives. The stakeholders will see that and you will have lost leverage. If the owner is a VP make sure that is the person that contracts externally (or that the internal reports to). Passing the responsibility and visibility down the line to a director or below turns change management into a fancy version of project management.

Start “change management” well before you think you need to

I can absolutely guarantee you have started change management late in every single one of your initiatives.

So start earlier the next time around.

Change management should start at the first stages of business modeling and analysis.

Even if you decide against that particular change the seeds for a change process have been planted for the next.

Be careful of tactical approaches to strategic change

There are tactics to use during the change timeline (and especially layered over the project timeline). Don’t confuse those tactics with change management as a whole. Do so and you focus on the minutia to the detriment of end state solutions. The bigger the change, the closer to a transformation, the more tactics need to be seen as parts of a whole. So project management’s version of strategy, strategic implementation, falls within the overall change process.

This actually benefits those responsible for tactics. It is important to have someone see the whole and it is equally important to have lots of people focus on the pieces.

Just understanding the difference is in an of itself a quick win.

Think horizontal

There are very few changes that line up perfectly vertical.

Everything that happens within siloed functions spills sideways into other areas.

Think horizontal.

Where and when (earlier than you think likely) do cross functional connections and collaboration need to happen?

Assume horizontal will happen and anticipate it. You will reel in the quick wins (and build momentum for the next change) if you do.

Understand end state descriptions are crucial

You can’t just start knocking off tasks, or quick wins if you want to call them that, without some sense of where you are going and why.

Quick-win-with-little-thought at your peril.

Remember stakeholders are aware. They see things you think are hidden. Keeping them busy right away will not change their need for explanations, understanding and reason.

 

Start change correctly with change practitioners contracted with the owner, earlier than you think, with a horizontal perspective, knowing it is important to have good empathetic end state descriptions. Do so and you will have a long list of quick wins before you ever really get started.

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Change can Change things… Or Not

ChangeOutofBounds

Is he out or in?

Football (American) is down to the final four. One of them is my second choice team to root for (first is the Raiders- go easy on me), the San Francisco 49ers. The last time we got to watch the Niners do this Championship thing Google did not exist. There was a world once without Google?

All those many things that have changed our lives and changed our behavior I will save for a different post.

What football has shown me in the last couple of weeks of intense games (not just my teams but others) is that some things change but often pieces remain. And that is good.

The biggest change for football in my lifetime is instant replay.

Now we can all, including and especially the officials, see what really happened down to an exact instant in time- from multiple angles. Think of how hard change can be in organizations and think of what has happened as a result of this ability to freeze time, and then play it back over and over again.

First we can now determine if it was a catch or not. This effects fumble calls, “ground caused the fumbles” and out of bounds.

Second we can see whether a player was out of bounds or not- for catches after number one and for runs.

Third we can see if the ball clears the plane of the end zone.

As an added bonus we can see penalties replayed including pass interference, defensive interference, holding, off-sides and a host of others (my favorite is the determination of forward passes when the quarterback is forced to throw the ball away).

This is TOTALLY different than it was when I was a kid.

Think of what this has given us:

  • a better sense of the rules- now we can watch in slow motion and hear the announcers explanation. It does not take long before you can explain that rule to someone else (organizational change connection there).
  • No more blaming failure of your team on the refs- they have to look at the scoring plays.
  • We get to celebrate the same thing multiple times (if your team is an East Coast team the good plays are repeated ad nauseum).
  • We get the thrill of challenges and the strategy and tactics that follow depending on whether or not the challenge fails.
  • We get to watch the goofy victory dances the players come up with (although the rule to limit nixes choreography).

Good stuff. This change, video playback, has made football much more fair, taken the onus off of the officials and eliminated that dreaded feeling from the past when a “bad call” ends the game for your team.

But wait, did everything change with this change?

It didn’t. Because video, even from three angles, frozen to a frame in time does not necessarily satisfy the ingredients needed to make the correct call. One foot, two feet, did he catch it? Even video does not always show that dance conclusively. Did the ball cross the plane of the end zone when the guy jumped over the pack? Not sure since there are so many bodies in the way. You would have to have a camera on the ball for that one (hey there’s a cool idea for change).

This last week there was a long discussion by the announcers of one game on why they felt the refs call after the instant replay review was wrong. It always has to be “definitive” to overturn the call on the field. They thought it was, the ref did not agree. Ah just like the OLD football!

One aside comment I will make is how surprisingly correct the officials are in the majority of their calls. How the heck did he see that and get it right with the roar of the crowd and only an instant to make the call? Skill and competency are powerful.

So if you are a Patriot, A Raven, A Giant or a Niner have fun tomorrow, knowing that some things change while some things will stay the same. (For the two sets who do not carry on to the Super Bowl here is wishing for some change for you in 2013).

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Overdue Change

ChangePhoneBook

Honestly, when was the last time you let your fingers do the walking?

(and, if you are young do you have any idea what that reference means?).

My family arrived home late from a dinner with friends and there on the porch was the new phone book. It made me think of the Steve Martin line, “The new phone book’s here, the new phone book’s here. Do you realize what this means? Now I can BE somebody!”. I knew, like the phone book the line would have zero meaning for my kids.

They would think it quaint to look someone up in that silly yellow book. (although, admittedly they do use their school directory). Why do we still have phone books? I have thrown away at least the last 7 or 8 years worth without even opening the cover. Even my wife, the ultimate Luddite, says recycle it the instant she sees it.

Again why do we still have phone books?

My daughter got a net book from Santa. The first thing she wanted to do was load a CD she got from an older relative. A music CD. People still use those things?

I heard the other day that you cannot bring a camera that uses tapes through security. It has to have a hard drive or a small GB drive.

I taught my mom how to drive with her fingers on the freeway- each tap up or down  makes the car move a mph. She loves it. Who would have thought you could ever do that? And what happened to all the crashes we were going to have when we changed to cruise control?

There are a lot of things that change for the better- I cannot imagine a drive without cruise control. And there are lot of things that just refuse to go away (change)- think phone books.

As an English major I would never wish books away, but my most well read friends are packing Kindles this year.

I think there is a lesson here. In your own life look at the things around you that have changed. Take a stroll back through your change journey. Why did you switch? What do you miss? Anything? What changes have been helpful? What would you like to bring back (real stuff not the pretend past of politics that never existed)?

Things have their place in time. Sometimes they lose their place to something else. Corporate change can be a lot like that. Savor the new, but don’t pine for the past. After all those phone books seem to keep arriving- something from the past to cling to.

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Satisficing

Satisficing is a portmanteau that describes exactly what a change agent faces. We can satisfy some criteria but must sacrifice certain things.

What do we satisfy?

Unfortunately the path of least resistance is the easiest to satisfy. So things like stakeholder analysis, assessments, surveys and initial awareness sessions get accomplished. That follows with lots of individual communications, training and fire fighting. Those are all quantifiable, measurable tasks that can be matched to line items in the budget. I call that the commoditized part of our role.

We also provide a comfort level around connection and interaction. In order to fill in all the blanks on those client requested deliverables (or consultant listed deliverables for the less experienced) we have to talk to a lot of people. That helps to mediate, collaborate, disseminate and germinate (along with some individual level fertilization). In this effort we satisfy the desire of stakeholders to be heard, to be noticed and to have hands held.

What do we sacrifice?

When we spend time satisfying client requests (especially if they are middle of the organization) we sacrifice the ability to connect their efforts on a bigger, broader level. We lose the opportunity to illustrate to owner clients the difference between need and want, between possibility and inevitability.

Satisficing tends to lock in the inevitable.

An extremely persistent satisficer might be able to have a voice at some point. But internal consultants are experts at satisficing (assuming they are knowledgeable enough to know there is more possibility than what they pursue), and they rarely have the opportunity to get to something higher than low level satisfaction…

 

For a consultant satisficing means getting a lot of good pats on the back. It means feeling great about checking things off the list. It means not having to constantly push explanations and intuitive visions of the future. Satisficing is easy really. The problem is when a satisficer stops and looks around they can see that, actually, nothing has changed.

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Attrition and Individual Change

One of my previous clients is in a major shakeup- tanked stock price, intense scrutiny of a council structure that did not work , disgruntled employees from the third horizontal down leading to the obvious and ultimate- Attrition. This is on the grandest scale that I have seen in my career. My best clients, examples of true leadership, are now scurrying away like mice in the attic.

(I have a book of I told you so notes from my time there…)

What this maelstrom illustrates to me is the path of individual change. It will, in fact, produce many paths of change. Think of the possibilities: retirement, a new position somewhere else, career switches, travel preceding anything on the list etc. These are talented people who now have verifiable change experience. How will or could they approach this change?

The answer is much like change in the organization should be approached- End state back, filled in with missing pieces,  “take stock of the current” to feed the end state and  discard any baggage.

  • End State
  • A look at the present
  • Acknowledging the pieces
  • Coming to terms with the past
  • Coming to terms with the present?

End State

In the case of individual change sometimes ideas must be spun to be able to start the process of defining a new end state. What though do you think is the first thing those individuals will do? Answer: Get real intense about the present. Maybe good in the sense that watching the budget is usually a good first step when in employment transition. Still an end state description makes this evaluation easier.

A look at the present

With a sense of the end state looking at the present With individual change it helps to evaluate needs and wants. At this point in time where would you like to go? How would the end state be different from today (or yesterday in the case of loss of employment)?

With organizational change this is usually not a good step since it focuses the change on the present and transitions which just repeats patterns. Individual change  has this step since reinventing and doing things better the second time around works at the individual level.

Acknowledging the pieces

What do you have that ties in well with this end state? This is a nice question, and exercise, to pat yourself on the back and make the list of all the positives, all your accomplishments, all the things to carry forward.

What is missing for that end state? Education? Exposure? Connections? Filling in these missing pieces (as with some organizational change- learning can be fun) can be a real boost and positive push toward the end state.

Coming to terms with the past

Individual change requires, after a good path is set, to see the path to the present. This is a little like looking at organizational history to gauge its effects on the path to the end state. The same view back on patterns, perspectives and use of opportunity is needed to break free of anything that might slow forward progress. Begrudging anything would be one of those slowing mechanisms. Take stock, acknowledge the good and bad and move on.

Coming to terms with the present?

Which will bring you to the present. Goals, listing the pieces attained, also listing the missing pieces and creating a path to put the puzzle together can help to frame the present. The present, at any given time, may have some regrets, but it also has opportunity. Regret is like a stop sign. Opportunity is like a long green light.

 

You can approach individual change in much the same way I have illustrated for organizational change. The green light is longer and the road more open when the process is an end state back approach. At the individual level there may be more looking back from the present to guide the future. Still there will be patterns, perspectives and approaches- some good some bad.

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A list of things that surprise me about change

I have an ongoing list in my head of the things I see while working that surprise me. See if any of them ring true:

  • That change management is even necessary.
  • That change management consultants talk about and plan for ways to scale up- why would something appear as a change, project etc. and move far enough forward that the leader needs to be “scaled in”?
  • That consultants place so much weight on the model when they all look so similar.
  • That consultants peddle self service change management as if it is something that can be done with templates and lists- someone has to fill out and interpret those lists.
  • That a conversation or dialogue in person or online with consultants so quickly gets deep into complicated theory (you can almost hear the peacock feathers fly when that happens).
  • That leaders pay so little attention to the human connection (and its effects).
  • That anyone would assume in an approach or model or theory that change always has resistance.
  • That change management starts at the project stage- you would think one try at this would brightly light its faults.
  • That CM is something that ties into the project level and that’s it.
  • That CM is a fad- see first bullet point.
  • That anyone can do this- it takes a certain kind of person to do it well.
  • That someone would do this with a full bore ego (see previous bullet the egoist is not that person).
  • That you could ever accomplish anything in the change arena without humility… and you can’t.
  • That you could ever accomplish anything in the change arena without confidence (a tweak on ego).
  • That any organization or leader would try big change without the help of at least one external.
  • That internal people in the middle get so juiced up about owning the change approach in their organization- I get this, but it causes real trouble.
  • That committees are so popular- they have the physics of black holes.
  • That there are so many third parties in the way of the contracting process.
  • That clients are willing to pay for that.
  • That consultants play that game (guilty here a few times, see previous bullet).
  • That organizations think the third parties change the “Microsoft equation” (the law suit further defining employee status).
  • That individual clients do not hear from the consultants how much worse the new third party/procurement scenario really is.
  • That big firms can be like bulls in a china shop and still carry on (or move on…).
  • That something as simple as change can be so complicated.

Just a list of some change things. Out of my head now.

It is quiet out there. Which of these would you like thought around, which should I explore a little more? I think it is time for me to interpret what might be interesting for my readers. My stats do show that I can claim readers. Woo hoo.

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Half full or Half Empty? Change Management and Perception

half full or half empty?

When it comes to change it does not take long to find out if a stakeholder sees the glass half full or half empty. It does not take long to see that they may think the glass will soon empty out. It, thankfully, also does not take long to find those future change participants that think there might just be a way to fill the glass (there are even some who think they can WILL it full).

You see things; and you say “why?” But I dream of things that never were, and I say “Why not?” – George Bernard Shaw

To deal with this glass-filling-perspective-dilemma thing let’s borrow from the Presidents top secret team of behavioral scientists. for the actual article.

And let’s assume the end state is a nice full glass of water.

Knowledge

We need to be able to communicate why it is important for the glass to be full. We need to gauge where this will take place. We need to figure out who would be good at this, our current capacity to use that talent and whether or not that person/those people know enough to see the advantage of our end state. We need to figure out and explain and guide the actual process of getting the glass full. Once we get that figured out we need specific tasks. And we need to know when the glass will be full.

To accomplish this we need to gather and communicate all of the data that will guide decision making. Knowledge, data and information that can be received at the individual level is one of our ways of getting this glass filling to happen.

It needs to be Easy

This could very well be a lot of interaction, a lot of questioning, a lot of evaluating of the data we grab. To someone who sees that glass stuck, just fine the way it is, or by some magic losing liquid, our knowledge gathering may seem difficult (and perhaps a waste of time). So we need a translation to easy. This needs to be easy. That is our second tool for making this happen. If inclusion and “getting everyone on board” is going to make this seem complicated, take longer (which always looks less easy) or be confusing then we need to be careful about who does what.

Everybody must be doing it

But then again… the more people that jump on board the more we get to use our third behavioral tool- if everyone else is doing it grabbing more is easy. In our case it might be building group think on purpose, because liking the idea of the glass full is one step toward helping fill it. With CM we can use a little of the “everybody WILL be doing it” approach (I mean that in a good way not because the change was a cram job of orders). As much as being something to do it must be something that

And sometimes we need a shove

This comes as the last option.

In some way it will probably be used in every change initiative. Done creatively (especially if there is consensus of the good and bad that will come with this change process) this option can also come earlier. The shove is rewarding things that connect with the end state and punishing for those that do not (that is different than punishing for not participating).

Making certain things mandatory is another option. We just have to make sure mandatory feels more like a choice (see previous three behavior levers) as a non-choice. The best general example of this is automatically placing everyone in 401K’s and having them opt out. They do not choose on their own…which means they rarely choose to opt out.

Maybe in our case we get to drink from the water when we have reached the end state if we participate in the journey to get there.

 

It is great if you see our glass half full. It is OK (and usually understandable) if you see it as half empty. What is really important is getting to the belief and then the actuality of a truly FULL glass.

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Change Management for GROWTH- Finally!

 

“Of the 288 senior executives surveyed this year from around the world, the top two objectives for change management initiatives were increasing revenue (55 percent) and preparing their organizations for the future (52 percent). Last year, 66 percent of respondents cited cost reduction as the primary goal.”

Leaders of Change study from The Economist & Celerant Consulting  http://tinyurl.com/4g9ag4l

At least in the minds of executives, growth is right around the corner (and since the study was last year we are at the corner).

Here is my own graph of business past:

ChangeGraph

Think about that question mark.

If your revenue fell 70% over the last two years (at least in consulting that number seems to ring true) think of how easy it will be to make your numbers this year. That 20% growth rate is, as my daughters would say, “waaaaay” smaller than it was before. At what point does possibility overcome fear? At what point does possibility become possible?

And, of course, what does that mean for change management?

 

Revenue

The last couple of years organizations have had an inward focus- tighten, strip, consolidate. Gathering up revenue necessitates an outward focus.

  • Outward focus is heavy on representation of something (product or service) so the end state description is geared toward the customer/client.
  • There is an opportunity to illustrate CM’s ability to make the gathering up of resources easier (revenue tied to the CM expenditure that is not as direct as internal change).
  • A light shines on the supply chain- the quicker the avenue to the end state, change (or sale) the more effective, productive and speedy.
  • The four walls of the box of things to address just moved out farther (which has both potential and difficulty).

 

Preparing for the future

Change management that aims farther in to the future must tie tighter to strategy. It must be higher in the organization. It must be heavy on the front end (especially when there is still fear, hesitation and wallets in the front pocket).

  • CM as an avenue for and driver of resource development both internal and external. This is not the time to come up with an idea, fill in the vacant positions and instantly act for the sake of action ( + simple = missteps).
  • Now is the perfect time to consider how change will be guided and directed in the future- how each initiative will build on the next for capacity and capability.
  • A ? Now is the perfect time.
  • Integrating a “best place to work” mentality and communication. The best places to work have effective feedback loops, are efficient, use the skill of individuals wisely (and proactively) and foster an environment of collaboration (which is the opposite of the everyone for themselves attitude of the last 5+ years).

Change Management for growth and revenue building is a forward thinking, strategic process. Loading the front end, thinking of organizational layers that can be addressed within the change process along with assessing and developing capability and capacity is the CM of 2011 and beyond.

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