Commentary & Analysis
How Do You Handle Change?
Change is something everyone in business (and in life) has to face. With the economy still fragile and the graphic arts industry in transformation, it’s likely you, your company and your customers are in some state of significant change. You might be changing your go-to-market strategy…your business model… the services you offer…or a cutback in staff or capabilities. Read on to understand how managing change more deliberately could make the difference between success and failure.
By Bob Lieber
Published: August 6, 2010
Change is something everyone in business (and in life) has to face today. With the economy still in a fragile state and the graphic arts industry in the midst of transformation, it is likely you and your company and your customers are in some state of significant change.
So whether you are in the midst of a change to your go-to-market strategy... a change to your business model... a change in the services you offer... or even a cutback in staff or capabilities... understanding how to manage change could make the difference between success or failure.
So I ask: Have you thought about how you handle change?
My theory is that most misestimate what is involved in undertaking a significant business or personal change Our first instinct is to resist. We are often skeptical that a change in how we do things will result in a better outcome than what we know. And, the discomfort in confronting the unknown can lead to a paralyzed workforce... poor performance... even internal sabotage that can derail your best efforts and intent.
An entire field of academic study and business services exists to help leaders, companies and individuals cope with the challenge of change. This article will focus on explaining some of the characteristics of dealing with change... and offer some resources to get you thinking about handling change in a more conscious and focused manner.
“People are always telling me that change is good. But all
What is Change Management?
In a field as broad as this, it is no wonder there are many definitions of change management. Here are a few:
Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change_management.
Minimizing resistance to organizational change through involvement of key players and stakeholders. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/change-management.html
The intent is clear: It is not enough to decide to change something in your business; there is a path to success that is structured, organized and requires involvement of key stakeholders.
When is an organization ready to undergo important change (in a way that will succeed)?
There is a popular formula, attributed to Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher, that describes the conditions that must be present before successful change can take place.
This is a true equation. So there are three components that must all be present to overcome the resistance to change in an organization: Dissatisfaction with the present situation, a vision of what is possible in the future, and achievable first steps towards reaching this vision. In the equation, if any of the three elements is zero or near zero, the product will also be zero or near zero and the resistance to change will dominate.
Here is a link to an audio, online slide show that walks you through this formula and how to use it. http://www.slideboom.com/presentations/110991/The-Change-Formula.
"Any change, even a change for the better, is always
What's the Big Deal? Why Do I Really Need to Put So Much Thought Into This?
There might be a fair amount of skepticism when it comes to the need to take a deliberate approach to change in your business. But in a review for a new book called "Immunity to Change", reviewer Jim Pawlak pulls out a relevant story to explain:
"Before delving into the business side of change, authors Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey use a personal change example to which many can relate - diet and exercise. Losing weight and getting in shape are admirable goals, yet most dieters fail and actually pack on the weight loss plus a few pounds. Why? Eating healthy and going to the gym didn't overcome the "immunity" posed by the real reason they're overweight and out of shape. Many yo-yo dieters use food as a comfort crutch to offset stress. Others see being overweight as a part of their victim-mentality."
Experts in change management point to the fact that there are two sides to every major change in business; there is the business, or "economic side" to change. Some call this the "engineering focus" or "mechanical focus". Then there is the "psychological side". One can never forget that people frequently resist change... and that without the right mindset and spirit of cooperation, many changes in the business will never take hold.
The following chart depicts the differences:
|Focus||Processes, systems, structure||People|
|Business practices||BPR, TQM, ISO 9000, Quality||Human resources, OD|
|Starting Point||Business issues or opportunities||Personal change, employee resistance (or potential for resistance)|
|Measure of Success||Business performance, financial and statistical metrics||Job satisfaction, turnover, productivity loss|
|Focus||"Shoot the stragglers, carry the wounded."||"Help individuals make sense of what the change means to them."|
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory”.
W. Edward Demming, American professor, author and consultant.
What is the Best Process to Implement Important Change?
A very popular model exists for implementing change management projects. It is called the ADKAR Model, developed by Prosci Research and used worldwide.
The basic framework looks like this, with the left hand axis depicting the stages of a change management project for a business and the bottom axis showing phases of change for employees :
Here is a link to a tutorial on the model: http://www.scribd.com/doc/27167762/Change-Management-The-ADKAR-Model-for-Change-Management
"There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction."
A Few Resources for Help with Change Management
A good website to read further is http://changingminds.org. It is the self proclaimed "largest site in the world on all aspects of how we change what others think, believe, feel and do." They claim over 5,000 pages on the topic.
Another expert in the field is Prosci - who created the ADKAR Model - who has also developed a Change Management Learning Center (http://www.change-management.com/). Here are some basic facts about them:
Prosci's change management methodology has become one of the most widely used approaches for managing the people side of change in corporations and government agencies.
- Currently Prosci hosts more than 50,000 members in the BPR and Change Management Learning Center.
- Prosci's research data covers more than 2000 organizations from 65 countries, with 6 longitudinal studies in the past 12 years.
- Over half of Fortune 100 companies are using Prosci's change management models and tools.
- Prosci has been selected by Gartner for keynote talks on Change Management in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and has delivered keynote presentations at numerous other industry conferences.
Here is a link to one of the best rock songs ever written on the subject of change. Who can forget David Bowie singing, "Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes":
So now you have a basic tutorial on the subject of attacking change in your organization. As always, I appreciate your feedback, questions and suggestions via my email address below. I'll leave you with a few more quotes, to help sum up the entire topic:
"The main dangers in this life are the people who
"Things do not change; we change." Harry David Thoreau.
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are
"Change always comes bearing gifts." Price Pritchett,