10 Principles of Change Management

Thanks to Tom Stewart for pointing me to this great Strategy + Business article, 10 Principles of Change Management: Tools & Techniques to Help Companies Transform Quickly. With all the economic, technological, political and even natural (meaning nature) changes in the world, we have to continually change and change quickly.  Authors from Booz Allen Hamilton in 2004 (now Booz & Company) wrote (and it is still relevant):

Many senior executives know this and worry about it. When asked what keeps them up at night, CEOs involved in transformation often say they are concerned about how the work force will react, how they can get their team to work together, and how they will be able to lead their people. They also worry about retaining their company’s unique values and sense of identity and about creating a culture of commitment and performance. Leadership teams that fail to plan for the human side of change often find themselves wondering why their best-laid plans have gone awry.

No single methodology fits every company, but there is a set of practices, tools, and techniques that can be adapted to a variety of situations.  Using [the top ten] as a systematic, comprehensive framework, executives can understand what to expect, how to manage their own personal change, and how to engage the entire organization in the process.

1. Address the “human side” systematically.  “Transformation causes “people issues”……A formal approach for managing change — beginning with the leadership team and then engaging key stakeholders and leaders — should be developed early, and adapted often as change moves through the organization. This demands as much data collection and analysis, planning, and implementation discipline as does a redesign of strategy, systems, or processes.”

2. Start at the top. “Leaders themselves must embrace the new approaches first, both to challenge and to motivate the rest of the institution. They must speak with one voice and model the desired behaviors. The executive team also needs to understand that, although its public face may be one of unity, it, too, is composed of individuals who are going through stressful times and need to be supported.”

3. Involve every layer. “As transformation programs progress from defining strategy and setting targets to design and implementation, they affect different levels of the organization.”

4. Make the case. “confront reality and articulate a convincing need for change…. demonstrate faith that the company has a viable future and the leadership to get there. Finally, provide a road map to guide behavior and decision making”

5. Create ownership. “Ownership is often best created by involving people in identifying problems and crafting solutions. It is reinforced by incentives and rewards.”

6. Communicate the message.  “The best change programs reinforce core messages through regular, timely advice that is both inspirational and practicable. Communications flow in from the bottom and out from the top, and are targeted to provide employees the right information at the right time and to solicit their input and feedback. Often this will require overcommunication through multiple, redundant channels.”

7. Assess the cultural landscape.  “Thorough cultural diagnostics can assess organizational readiness to change, bring major problems to the surface, identify conflicts, and define factors that can recognize and influence sources of leadership and resistance. These diagnostics identify the core values, beliefs, behaviors, and perceptions that must be taken into account for successful change to occur. They serve as the common baseline for designing essential change elements, such as the new corporate vision, and building the infrastructure and programs needed to drive change.”

8. Address culture explicitly.  “Company culture is an amalgam of shared history, explicit values and beliefs, and common attitudes and behaviors. Change programs can involve creating a culture (in new companies or those built through multiple acquisitions), combining cultures (in mergers or acquisitions of large companies), or reinforcing cultures (in, say, long-established consumer goods or manufacturing companies)”

9. Prepare for the unexpected.  “Effectively managing change requires continual reassessment of its impact and the organization’s willingness and ability to adopt the next wave of transformation.”

10. Speak to the individual.  “Individuals (or teams of individuals) need to know how their work will change, what is expected of them during and after the change program, how they will be measured, and what success or failure will mean for them and those around them. ”

The full article has lots of great examples, and I love the ending:  “Most leaders contemplating change know that people matter. It is all too tempting, however, to dwell on the plans and processes, which don’t talk back and don’t respond emotionally, rather than face up to the more difficult and more critical human issues.”

2 thoughts on “10 Principles of Change Management

  1. Symon mbakah

    This is good analysis of the principles, if one can adopt them then you automatically succeed in life. I want to start adopting them, thanks

  2. Mary kinoti

    excellent principles for those being changed. what about the changer(person on the steering wheel of change)? I propose the “changer” does analysis on self capacity, role and methods of conveying the need for change.

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