Q: When is a blog not really a blog?
A: When it’s an advertisement!
I don’t normally do overt ‘selling’, but indulge me this week. My new book on managing change (The Transformation Roadmap) will be launched on Thursday, April 26th. The book details the key lessons that underpin successful change programmes, essentially offering a SatNav for scoping and implementing change projects. It also details the most common mistakes, trip-wires that can be avoided. Most of the cases are set in Ireland with some international material to balance this.
Target Audience: The Chief Executive of a large utility company, the Regional Manager of a bank and the Department Head of a multi-national manufacturing company all have one thing in common. They’re impacted by external forces and need to manage change effectively. The Transformation Roadmap is designed to guide efforts to accelerate change and secure permanent productivity improvements. Over a 20 year consulting career, I’ve led or been involved in managing 100+ major change projects. This book sets out the lessons learned in an easily accessible and (hopefully) honest way, including mistakes made along the way.
Change Process: The change process has a number of distinct steps. As each step unfolds, complex psychology and organization design principles come into play and these are dissected into easily digestible chunks. Case studies from a variety of organizational settings demonstrate how these principles are ‘applied’ in practice. The claim here is quite strong. This book can help you shape the future of your organization in 5 easily understood steps:
Step # 1: Why? The first big question in managing change is why the organization needs to change? What are the ‘today’ problems that should be on the radar and tackled? What would the creation of a better tomorrow look like? Is the message emotionally appealing? Does it tune into WIFM (“what’s in it for me”), everyone’s favourite radio station? If you can’t answer the ‘why’ question, fold up your tent and go home. People can only support what they understand and the rationale for change programmes has to be made crystal clear (think ‘Annual Household Charge’ and see what happens when this is not communicated well).
Step # 2: What? Deciding exactly what you are going to do is the next critical step. What key Business Imperatives are you going to change: Examples:
1. Grow commercial lines
2. Reduce claims costs
3. Grow personal lines business
4. Improve cost ratios
Upbeat Message: Where fear/negativity exists in an organization, you need to build in elements of a ‘positive future picture’ to aim towards. But you also need to be able to say, concretely, this is exactly what we are going to do NOW. The senior team has to be ‘on one page’ with this stuff. Mixed messages around whether it can be done, unravel all the good work. Managers, who don’t want to lead on this, have to be confronted head on (there are no managerial spectators on the change pitch).
Step # 3: How? Top down versus bottom up? There is an emerging orthodoxy that all change needs to be bottom up i.e. people need to be engaged and ‘buy in’ to change. This is management by staff survey. Our experience conflicts with this. Where an organization is in crisis you sometimes need a ‘slash and burn’ approach (with the rebuild phase coming later). Where there is less immediacy, a more robust engagement strategy with staff and stakeholders can work well. The method should not be decided a-priori, based on political philosophy; the situation dictates the route chosen.
Step # 4: Execute: Strategic implementation is the Achilles Heel of organization change projects. It’s the ‘hard bit’ where some managers want to chicken out. Managing change is a full contact sport. It’s not something that can be done alongside a busy day job ‘as time permits’. The best-managed organizations set up dedicated teams and war rooms and measure progress (Vital Signs) relentlessly. Follow through is never left to chance. Some change programmes are shiny on the outside, like donkey droppings, but they don’t actually deliver.
Step # 5: Invest: Similar to great marketing, change requires an up-front investment. Do you like the Guinness ads? The clear central message and the way they engage customers? Most people do. The real news is that you can’t do great marketing on the cheap. Change management is a form of internal marketing – with communications acting as the oxygen of successful programmes. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be resourced.
The Transformation Roadmap, published by Oak Tree Press, will be available in both paperback (€19.99) and e-book (€9.99) formats. Check out http://www.oaktreepress.com for the details. I really hope you like the book and get something from this.
Know someone who’d benefit from reading this blog? Forward it on or ask them to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them to the mailing list.
PS Lighter note: Some more quips to keep you smiling. Local Area Network in Australia = The LAN down under. When you’ve seen one shopping center, you’ve seen a mall. If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed! (hey, it’s hard to come up with clean jokes every week!).