Sunday, December 17, 2006

Template for Success or Why Change Initiatives are Doomed!

Some time ago I was asked to speak to a group of people who work full-time as change agents in a large Swedish company. One of these change agents had attended a one day course on change management that I teach for a Swedish education company (Astrakan Strategic Education AB, ). This change agent’s boss said to me that they would like me to focus on how to create lasting change.

Lasting Change

Is there any other kind of change than lasting change? Change initiatives that do not lead to lasting change are just a waste of time. If organizations initiate change processes they are surely intended to last, at least until the next change process. I have heard people say that as long as one of our change agents is involved in the project things move along well but when we pull out the change initiative falters or even stops. This is a common problem when people with special competence like consultants or internal change agents are involved in change.

Fundamentally, change in organizations is about changing behaviour. We want individual human beings to do things differently than they have done in the past. No change will ever be long-lasting without changing the behaviour of people doing the work of the organization. If this assertion is true then to create lasting change we must focus on the drivers of human behaviour.

Template for Success!

Most change initiatives fail because they do not successfully address the underlying behaviours that are to be changed. Below is a simple template that might be helpful in addressing the real elements of organizational change. In the first column I have listed a breakdown of the elements of Competence. Across the top I have listed elements of change processes as described by Mats Lundeberg in his book “Handling Change”. (Mats is a professor at the Stockholm School of Economics)

Fill in each field as needed with a few of both the group and the individual. Remember, it is individuals within the group that need to change. Individuals have different competencies and desires, therefore you may need to answer many of these questions at an individual level to insure the success of you change process.

Remember that behavioural change takes time. A rule of thumb is that significant changes in individual behaviours take 21 days of consistent effort. How often do each individual in our organizations get 21 consecutive days with training, coaching and follow-up to secure the new behaviours. In many cases they get a training course, a kick-off and a t-shirt and are expected to “just do it”!

I have filled in the columns “Current State” and “Future State” with some questions to help you get started. Good luck!

Click here to view the template! (Its not pretty but it works!)