Newsletter Article – Managing Change 2.0
Managing Change 2.0 “The rest of the story…”
By Dr. Deb Oliver, Executive Director, Iowa Quality Center
Although I have studied how to successfully manage Change for the last 2 decades, I am happy to share that I am still learning. Last Fall I was fortunate enough to attend a training sponsored by CIRAS – an agency within Iowa State University – featuring Daryl Connor. I first met Daryl nearly 20 years ago when I worked at Rockwell Collins. One key point I still remembered from training with him was that people are like sponges in regards to change. There is only so much change a person or group can absorb before the sponge starts “leaking” – which translates to ineffective efforts to change. My group at that time realized that we were attempting to work on approximately 10-15 initiatives and were “burning out” some of our best people. The group wisely chose 4-5 initiatives to focus on which was much more manageable.
Earlier this year, I led one of our Learning Network meetings we hold monthly throughout Iowa on this subject. I asked the 20 attendees to talk in small groups for a few minutes about a change that they would champion for their organization, or even in their personal life.
So—-STOP! Before you read any further, I want you to think about a change you would choose to champion in your organization. Where do you start? What causes you and your colleagues “pain”? Now that you have that in mind….read on.
Do you realize that 70% of change efforts fail? Why is that? Simply, we aren’t aware of some questions that will help us define the nature of the change we are hoping to implement. On the surface, we naively believe that the change will be successful because it sounds simple enough. The trouble and, and at the same time, the beauty of our scenarios is that we are all human and along with that comes complexity. So let’s consider those all important questions.
The key question to answer is: HOW EXTENSIVE IS THE IMPENDING SHIFT you are aiming for? Is it Incremental Change or Transformational Change?
I asked the group at the network meeting whether they thought their change project was for an incremental level change or was more far-reaching like a transformational change? The majority thought the change was of an incremental nature UNTIL they reviewed the below table that spells out the differences between these two levels of change.
Daryl defined Incremental Change as something different and Transformational Change as compared to an earthquake. Review the table below to understand the differences.
|Indicators of Incremental Change||Indicators of Transformational Change|
|Modifies behaviors||Modifies behaviors & mindsets|
|Clear Direction||No 1 right answer, many right answers|
|Familiar but better||Different and far superior|
|Fewer changes and small span of organization impacted||Significant number of changes over a large span of organization|
|Minor disruption of people’s expectation||Major disruption of people’s expectation|
|A more linear path||Multiple interdependent components to integrate|
|Minimal change to existing politics||Significant shift to existing politics of organization|
|Small number of people are unwilling/unable to complete the journey||Significant number of people are unwilling/unable to complete the journey|
After we had reviewed the descriptions, all attendees felt that their proposed change would be categorized as a Transformational Change. How about you?
A second question is: How essential is that everything being promised is actually delivered? Is the change installed or realized? Installation is achieved when a solution is inserted into the work environment. Realization occurs when the sought after mindset, behaviors and promised outcomes are consistently demonstrated over time.
A 3rd question – What are the implications if the Change initiative fails? As the champion of change, what is your level of resolve? Is this change a really good idea OR is it a business imperative that has to happen? You have to believe that the cost of doing nothing is similar to what Daryl terms “a burning platform: Are you committed to the change enough to move ahead if your friend, “Jim” is against it? As Clay Jones, former CEO of Rockwell Collins, stated years ago in regards to an initiative he was proposing, “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”.
Another key learning for me is this workshop was that there are four major roles in the Change process.
- The first one is the Sponsor who is the individual or group who has the power to sanction a change
- The Second role is the Agent who is the individual or group who is facilitating the development and/or execution of implementing the plan
- The third role is the Target who is the individual or group who must actually change
- The fourth role is the Advocate who is the individual or group who want a change but does not have sufficient power to sanction it
During this workshop, the change I chose to focus on was my goal as our new church council leader to keep our meetings to 60 minutes vs the past where meetings were 2.5-3 hours long. When I considered these roles, I realized I was the sponsor and therefore had the responsibility to see this change through. After reading these role descriptors, ask yourself, what role do you identify with in relation to your choice for change?
Last but not least, an impactful part of the workshop for me was when during the last hour, Daryl invited individuals to come up t the front of the 60+ member group, describe their change and they would talk about the scenario in a 1 t0 1 conversation. He interviewed 3 people…during this first interview, the interviewee realized he was an advocate and no matter how passionate he was about the change, he would not get very far in implementing the change without the support of the sponsor. The next brave soul confessed that he was the Sponsor as CEO of his organization….had felt that he didn’t have the time but now realized he needed to step up and make the time. I was especially impressed as he had a table of his leaders there in the training with him. The third interviewee classified himself as the agent and realized how lucky he was to have the sponsor’s support.
In summary, I have barely touched the virtual “tip of the iceberg” from the workshop with this article….the most important truth I learned was that the Sponsor role has to be committed on several levels. In any change efforts, the change champion may believe they are the sponsor and then are confused when they do not have the clout or power of the sponsor. Also if the sponsor does not follow through with the support promised to the change champion, the project is most likely doomed to end up in a black hole of the 70% of failed change efforts.
Deb Oliver, Executive Director
Iowa Quality Center