How do you coordinate a change effort while keeping everyone satisfied that their opinion has been included? How do you deal with strong (sometimes underhanded) opposition? How do you prevent change initiatives from colliding, or “change fatigue”? It seems like change management is a can of worms that is not worth the stress. But you can't just ignore change management, and expect it to “just happen”. And with change management, we need to unlearn much of what we thought we knew.
The Fundamentals of Change
- Ever seen the statistic “70% of change efforts fail”? Change management research says otherwise and reveals that the real picture is brighter.
- Change management is not about winning over your fiercest critics. Greg Satell emphasizes how there will always be an opposition that hates your idea, and that backlash from stakeholders must be your primary design constraint.
- Forget the charismatic leader and the catchy slogan, it's about effective management of an ecosystem of relationships.
- Change saturation occurs when the number of changes exceeds the capacity of individuals. Here are six strategies to avoid this problem.
Effective change is driven by small achievements rather than big bang movements. From losing weight to political movements, developing consistent habits will always be the first step in providing a platform for sustained success.
The Leadership of Change
- Ex-CEO of Alcoa, Paul O'Neil, shocked investors when he announced his first change to be a focus on safety. What investors didn't expect was the ripple effect caused by attacking one habit (i.e. a keystone habit).
But you can't order people to change… That's not how the brain works. So, I decided I was going to start by focusing on one thing. If I could start disrupting the habits around one thing, it would spread throughout the entire company.
- The idea that early adopters act as influencers that spur an idea forward is largely a myth. Successful transformations focus on employees with lower thresholds of resistance and involve as many stakeholders as possible.
- Leveraging the opposition to your advantage is an underexploited tactic of change management. Those who oppose us are just as passionate about their cause and if you can leverage this passion through shared values, the resulting outcome will pave the way for more changes in the future.
The traditional change management model puts leaders on a pedestal, but this immediately eliminates the vast pool of insights from employees. Divergent thinkers or “resisters” will be the key to successful change, allowing for an iterative process of testing and rethinking.
The Practical Aspects of Change
- The Covid-19 pandemic prompted a massive percentage of the world population to change their behavior overnight. Jonah Berger highlights flaws in how these changes were implemented and gives us three simple strategies to get people to persuade themselves.
- Every change implementation is different, and we need to tailor our processes to each change context. However, what is common to all change contexts is the importance of gathering diverse perspectives and having the courage to act on what you find.
- When you are hired to implement change, employees often perceive you as a foreign substance entering the company's immune system. Emphasize what is not changing to be recognized as a friend rather than a foe.
A few decades ago, companies could build a strong business model and apply it more or less unchanged for years. In that era, resilience was based on stability and competitive barriers to entry. … Resilience now depends on rapid and effective adaptation to change.
- David J. Teece, Paul G. Raspin, and David R. Cox in “Plotting Strategy in a Dynamic World”