The cookie cutter approach to change is long dead!
“A hammer can hammer a nail but it’s not good for screws”
Pre-pandemic change management may have still seen the practice of ‘like for like’ approaches to change with the organisational context wrapped around a framework but in this article, we argue that this approach is long dead.
Many changes have occurred in the professional world with hybrid ways of working leading the current way that organisations are operating. Trends in accelerated technology change, shifts in mindsets towards adopting continuous changes matured workplace ways of working and ways of leading change. In the blink of an eye, change ‘changed’ and global attitudes and expectations evolved.
The need for short, sharp and impactful delivery methods for change is essential. Consulting houses are indicating that their customers are expecting greater customisability and flexibility of their solutions to best meet the needs of their specific situations and not just ‘best practice’ (https://www.deltek.com/en-au/blog/consulting-market-trends-for-australian-firms). This trend challenges long form change transformation programs where a large teams would formerly drive a deep shift within organisations (https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/the-future-of-consulting-shorter-sharper-cheaper-20201015-p565gi).
Speed to market and reduced scale of changes have accelerated the need for nimble change methodologies towards agile and targeted short, sharp and effective changes.
One of the failings of large consulting led transformational programs is the lack of flexibility to adapt solutions to a client’s specific needs and context. Replicating previous approaches to big programs including their methods and practices are failing in today’s market. External market trends show a shift in market share from big operations in 2019 to smaller organisations (IBIS World Management Consulting in Australia 2022). The change management industry needs to pivot to meet the needs of the organisations that they serve.
Further to this, the unpredictability of the marketplace has been highlighted as a key challenge facing organisations in Australia (https://www.deltek.com/en-au/blog/consulting-market-trends-for-australian-firms), which requires the a tailored and flexible change approach. A one size fits all model for change and transformation may have worked in the past, however, in today’s market this is constraining organisations that are genuinely striving to be innovative. The future of change is predicated towards hybrid models and innovative approaches to change with an accelerated need to demonstrate value creation, not just analysis. The change professional needs to ensure an adaptable bespoke execution of change and it needs to be iterative. (https://www.consultancy.uk/news/30507/5-trends-shaping-the-future-of-management-consulting)
Key change management models are still relevant today. Models such as PROSCI’s ADKAR Model, Lewin’s Change Management Model, Satir Change Model, Kotter’s 8-Step Theory. However, the way they are applied to change management practices needs to evolve. Integrating methods and approaches to suit the culture and context of an organisation needs to lead the way change is offered as a solution.
In the same way a hammer is considered to be a tool for driving nails, it isn’t the right tool for every job. They are tools to be utilised when and where they fit the needs of the organisation.
Moving toward a principled approach to change would improve the flexibility and customisation of models and change initiatives. If this was the case, the change professional would embrace and prioritises the core values, outputs and principles of change management models to inform and shape their change approach and practice.
In the diagram below, we offer one way to consider how to pivot to this bespoke way of change management.
Here are some key things to think about when you’re designing and implementing a change initiative:
- Think through the methodologies at your disposal, these are your tools to tailor to the needs of the organisation.
- Think through the complexities of your change initiative and work quicky to identify the resources and skills available to you and your team.
- Consider the context of the change, size and needs of the organisation. Keep in mind that successful change management will integrate with the environment, otherwise the change initiative will not succeed or will not be sustained.
- An innovate change approach will design, plan and celebrate core achievements of each stage of your methodology. Think through the outputs, deliverables and goals and leverage them as a guide for altering your approach to the needs of the organisation.
- Be savvy and research the organisation’s industry, position in the market and future direction of the organisation. Match it and iterate.
- When in doubt, go back to step one and take it from there. So, what you will take forward into your change practice and what you will leave behind and ditch!?
So, what you will take forward into your change practice and what you will leave behind and ditch!?
Nathan Eddy (B.SocSci (Psych); MBA (Ops,Analytics&Strat)) is a Change Manager and Management Consultant with Sententia Consulting and has over 6 years of organisational transformation experience in the public sector. Nathan promotes change management and aims to share complex concepts by simplifying them for the general public ensuring everyone has access to change management tools. He continues an active newsletter from his LinkedIn, linking experience and academia to practical and simple actions anyone can take.
He does this between spending time with his growing family and dog Frankie, gardening, training and coaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Canberra, Australia.