Does change management theory help?

  • Published on: 21 December 2015
  • By: Admin

Does change management theory help when a project isn’t going well? No? Then what does?

It’s relatively easy to identify why a project is failing to deliver the desired benefits - much harder to put it right. And despite the many change management books and self-appointed change management ‘experts’ out there, it’s usually not the principles of managing change, but how you implement it - the detailed, hands-on practice - that makes a difference. And it’s our experience at eXceeding is that the devil is always in the detail.

Every case is different, has its own complexities and requires a customised approach to solve the puzzle: how to put it into practice in this particular system, within this specific group, in this unique setting – that’s the challenge.

We have come across a number of change projects which have not delivered the desired benefits, despite having been apparently planned and structured quite well:

  • The change project that seemed to be working, but didn’t ‘stick’ because the CEO didn’t lead by example and there was no support provided for the follow-through, so nobody took it seriously and everything went back to the way it was before.
  • The public sector improvement programme that was brought in over the heads of the local managers, who warned of the ‘change fatigue’ among the staff. Superficially, the Change Manager was able to report a successful implementation. The reality was that staff had just ‘ticked the box’ and accepted the additional workload, but outcomes only deteriorated.
  • The non-profit organization which wanted to involve their field staff more in fund-raising, but hadn’t accounted for the serious misalignment between those staff and the management back at Head Office, which totally scuppered the initiative. 
  • The company that brought ‘experts’ in to modernize its IT systems with little input from the people running and using the existing systems – and wondered why it didn’t work!

It may not be easy to uncover and identify the underlying issues and cultural barriers, but a failure to do so will prejudice the outcome. And it’s not just a matter of understanding – it requires action: walking the talk… and not giving up before it is done.  Even if a CEO has a clear idea of how to bring about changes, he/she can’t just order the others to do it... His team need to see how and why the changes are needed, recognise the urgency and importance - and then commit to making them happen.

In order to achieve this commitment, we:

  • Diagnose the barriers to successful change, quantifying the potential impact of these on the ROI of the project and setting out clear Route Maps and Action Plans for the change team to follow to improve outcomes.
  • Engage with as many of the workforce as possible, bringing them into change circles to work together and take ownership of their own role in making change happen.
  • Focus on working with and on the group’s culture (“the way we do things around here”), bringing out the tacit assumptions, exploring their responses to change and helping them to shift perceptions and adopt new behaviours. 
  • Provide the support they need to really make the changes stick, so they don’t go back to old habits.

So, change management theory doesn’t help when a project isn’t going well…

Our expertise does.

For further information on Change Management please visit our Change Management page

Email [email protected]  or call 03333 555 111 for all enquires.