Scott Keller & Caroline Aiken., (2000). The inconvenient truth about Change Management. Why it isn't working and what to do about it. Mc Kinsey & Company.
This article is making a stunning observation. Since Kotter an astonishing quantity of research, books, process flows etc... have been produced to support organizational change. And yet, a decade (article was written in 2000) later there has been no influence whatsoever on the success rate of change projects in organizations, what logically would have been expected. And there is no reason to believe that another 15 years later that situation has changed.
This Mc Kinsey article was one of the first to try to understand : "what are we doing wrong?" This is what the article proposes as answer to that question : "Literally thousands of prescriptions are put forward in various change management publications regarding how to influence employee attitudes and management behavior. However, the vast majority of the thinking is remarkably similar. Colin Price and Emily Lawson provided a holistic perspective in their 2003 article, The Psychology of Change Management, that suggests that four basic conditions have to be met before employees will change their behavior:
- They must see the point of the change and agree with it, at least enough to give it a try
- Role modeling: They must also see colleagues they admire modeling the desired behavior
- Reinforcement systems: Surrounding structures, systems, processes and incentives must be in tune with the new behavior
- The skills required for change: They need to have the skills to do what is required of them.
This prescription is well grounded in the field of psychology and is entirely rational. Putting all four of these conditions in place as a part of a dynamic process greatly improves the chances of bringing about lasting changes in the mindsets and behaviors of people in an organization—and thus achieves sustained improvements in business performance."
Through our experience, Move! comes to a similar conclusion, although we formulate it a bit different and our viewpoints are broadly based on elements from social constructionist theories, experiential learning and self determination theory. The big issue is not whether those four 'building blocks' of effective change are necessary... because they probably are, but 'HOW' they are created withing the organization. It's not about the blocks, it's not about the steps, but it is about the process. And then we see that at a crucial condition for success is mostly overlooked :
People need to precede the what and the how of change. Most change processes start with an 'analysis' of the issues, finally creating a compelling story for change. Problem is that that analysis is mostly done by a small group of people, most of time senior management. And that creates two major problems : the analysis in a complex organization can no longer be done from the top, it needs serious involvement of all stakeholders in and outside the organization in order to create a valid strategic change agenda. And that being involved and co-creating the whole change process bring a solution to many problems in change processes often (wrongly) referred to as resistance to change :
- you don't need to 'convince' your organization of the 'need for change'. They concluded together, from their observations and analysis that change is necessary and why change is necessary. It's their decision, so no reason to resist it afterwards.
- they will not experience a situation where they are less informed, skilled, noticeable than others towards the new situation. The skill building and development is done as they go through the change process... They 'make' the knowledge, they don't have to be trained afterwards.
- The additional work the change brings will not be in 'competition' with their 'regular work' because the change has become their regular work.
The conclusion could be : It's not about communication, it'a about involvement and co-creation. Or with words of Aiken and Keller : "You’re better off letting them write their own story"
A few more articles on Change Management are listed below :
- Woldring. R., (1999). A Manager's short primer on resistance to change in organizations. Workplace Competence International Limited. (Move! shares the analysis in this article, but not the reaction the author is proposing to managers !!! For instance he suggests to fire employees who think the 'change is wrong'. That is a fundamental thinking error. If experience, qualified employees tell you 'not to go that route for change', you better listen to them because they might be right !!!)
- Cross, Parise & Weiss., (2007). The role of networks in organizational change. Mc Kinsey & Company
- Joan Minieri, et al., (no date). From Constituents to Stakeholders. Community-Based Approaches to Building Organizational Ownership and Providing Opportunities to Lead. NYU, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
- Julian Stodd., (2013). The co-creation and co-ownership of organizational change (blog, the picture is coming from Julian's Blog)