Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting to the heart of change!

I recently made a joint presentation with Elisabeth Kamél at the annual conference for The Swedish Project Management Association (Svenskt Projektforum). Elisabeth is one of Sweden’s leading educators for project leaders and I work with Change Management and Leadership. Together we were going to give insight into how to successfully manage change management projects. During the our preparation we decided to make an attempt at offering a tool to help project leaders and change agents with what we have seen to be one of the most common reasons most change initiatives fail.

In our experience most change initiatives fail because organizations and their leaders fail to understand and manage the “human” element of change. Change in an organization means change in behavior and yet most organizations run change with standard project management methodology. Although there has been a great deal written about the human or soft side of change most project management methods offer little or no help in understanding and addressing the real human issues of change that will in the end determine the outcome of change initiatives.

We decided to present the meeting with a practical tool that would compliment a broad range of project management methodologies. The result was the following template which we hope will help to guide insight, actions and communication.

Following the matrix there are some further explanations to guide your thinking.

Change Matrix (Getting to the heart of change!)

by Elisabeth Kamél and Kelly Odell


Effect direct/



New demands/


New knowledge/


Resources for securing new knowledge

Need for inspiration/motivation

Communication needs

Investment in time, money, consultants, training, etc

Employeee in unit X

Employee in unit Y

Mgmt Team

Business unit leaders

Dept managers




1. Stakeholders: Identify who will be impacted during and after the process (direct/indirect/later?) For example employees, customers, suppliers, etc

-Who will be impacted by this change?

-How will this change affect these individuals/groups?

-What can be done to minimize the negative effects of the change for the different stakeholders?

-How will the desired result of the change be affected if we do not get support from individuals/groups?

2. Make an honest assessment of how the change will affect the various stakeholders.

3. Describe what new demands and expectations on the stakeholders during and after the change.

4. Define which new knowledge or competences are necessary so that stakeholders can execute the new behaviors required by the change.

5. Describe what resources are available to help affected stakeholders in gaining necessary new knowledge and competence.

6. Redogör för hur de berörda kan inspireras och motiveras att bidra för att förverkliga förändringen.

7. Create a communication plan. Describe how the communication with the stakeholders will be executed. Give honest information about the change is necessary, how it will be implemented and what is expected of them as stakeholders. Remember the power of a Vision! How will the world be a better place when we have completed this change!

-Frequency – How often should we communicate? The general rule is that you cannot communicate too often! Even when you don’t have anything new to say you can gather the stakeholders and say that!

-Media – Which communication channels are available to you and which will we use when?

-Focus on target groups – Communication should be adapted to each group of stakeholders or even sub-groups of stakeholders since they can be impacted differently and will perceive the change differently.

8. Create a budget

Define what resources are necessary. (Time, Money, Consultants, Training, etc)

Include this budget in the decision material before you execute the change. If you can’t afford to the soft side of change you can’t afford the hard side either!

Does god choose sides when his children fight?

Truth is often not black or white, but shades of gray. Not because there aren't real truths but because life, politics, love and business can be very complicated. It is so easy, and so dangerous, to decide what to do on an issue or a problem and then look for facts to substantiate our points of view. This behavior seems to come naturally to us and might very well have been an asset when we were cavemen. If you heard a strange noise you might have been safer to assume that it is a hungry tiger than to open-mindedly collect and analyze the facts. Unfortunately, these primitive behaviors make it harder for us to live in a complex society.

Should we have gone to Afghanistan? Hard question.

Should we leave Afghanistan now that we are there? Another hard question.

Should we have gone into Iraq? Not as hard a question but still difficult?

Should we pull out now that we are there regardless if the reason we went was justifiable or not? Very hard question!

Many of us decide who we will listen to, (our political party, our religion or a business gurus) based on a combination of intellectual and emotional affinity as well as some variation of “peer pressure”. Then it is and easy step to assume that what my party and its leaders do is more “right” than what the others do. We then subconsciously look for confirmation for our beliefs.

-SAP is a great system but does anyone really think that all the companies that have installed SAP really needed SAP? Or is it the a function of “Social Proof” as Cialdini described it. Everyone else is getting SAP maybe we should too!

-Was everything Bush did wrong and everything Obama does is right, or vice versa depending on your political preference?

-Are Christians always right and Muslims always wrong or vice versa depending on your religious preference?

-Does god choose sides when his children fight?

Once again I long for the death of ideologies. Ideologies dictate for us not only how we should think but what we should think. Values are good to have but often get confused with ideological dictates and doctrines. When we find ourselves feeling right and wondering why so many other people could be so wrong it could be a warning that we have fallen prey to or ideologies. In order to really understand your own position on an issue whether it be political, religous or business we must strive to truly understand different and even opposing points of view. It is first when we understand why someone else thinks and acts so completely differently that we can begin to understand ourselves.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Gospel of Change Management

Getting to the Heart of Change

Early in life I spent four years at college studying theology and religion because I thought I wanted to enter the ministry. I changed my mind and didn't attend seminary and have never worked in the ministry. When I moved to Sweden I did an MBA at the Stockholm School of Economics. I have now spent more than 25 years in various management positions and the last 12 years as a public speaker, workshop leader and teacher in the subjects of leadership and change management. Since some of my speaking agents have played up the "preacher" angle when selling me I thought it would be fun to play with some of the "religious" lingo to package my message. The following are not really meant to be comprehensive and may not be quite clear without all the stories and examples I usually give to explain them. But if you find any value in them feel free!

The Golden Rule of Organizational Change:

If you feel the need to make major changes in your organization, don’t do it!

Ten Commandments of Change

If you feel compelled to make major changes in your organization despite the Golden Rule, then make sure to follow the Ten Commandments of Organizational Change.

1. Remember that change is inevitable. In any given situation we have only three alternatives:

i. Accept the situation

ii. Change the situation

iii. Change situations

2. Be open-minded! Change is in itself neither good nor bad! Some changes affect us positively, some negatively and some not at all.

3. Remember, that there are primarily three types of change: Influence what you can and adapt to the rest!

-Those changes we initiate ourselves

-Those changes we did not initiate but over which we have great influence

-Those changes we did not initiate and over which we have little or no control

4. Focus on the human side of change!

Change requires “real” new behavior not just new actions. “It is easier not to smoke a cigarette than it is not to want to smoke a cigarette.”

5. Control your destiny!

Although we cannot always directly influence change we can influence on how the change affects our lives through our attitudes and actions.

6. Never initiate change simply for the sake of change!

Change should only be initiated when absolutely necessary with a real desire to make things better!

7. Be inquisitive! The three fundamental questions driving change:

Where am I now? It is ok to be happy where you are!

Where do I want to be? You don’t necessarily have to change anything!

How do I get there? Go back and re-think the first two points before developing your plan of action!

8. Base you decisions on facts. Intuition is better than no information at all but facts are always better.

9. Be courageous! Don’t worry if you don’t succeed the first time. Change is difficult but it is never too late to try again!

10. Be persistent! Those who succeed are not those who never fail, they are the ones who never give up!

The Paradox of Change

The outcome of change is difficult to foresee. Sometimes those changes that appear to be most negative in the short-term bring the most long-term benefit and those changes that seem most desirable in the short-term are not necessarily best for us in the long-term.