If you’ve not heard of or uttered the phrase ‘change management’ in the office then you must have been living under a rock! Change – or improvement, transformation, innovation – or any of the other buzz words you might be hearing from the urban dictionary are unavoidable in today’s business context. But, ask your parents or grandparents’ generation and they might never have heard the term, although they would have no doubt experienced some sort of change in whatever profession they worked; even if it wasn’t acknowledged or understood in the way it is today.
Experts in the field saw 2012 as a turning point in change management whereby change, in a business sense, became a natural (and expected) part of management in organisations. Look at any C-level or middle management job advert across any industry and you’ll see requirements for candidates to be able to ‘lead teams through transformation’, ‘effectively manage and facilitate change’ or ‘create an environment of innovation.’ Standalone change manager roles are also now commonplace and consultants are in high demand.
What causes change?
This is where we can see the historical shift in change occur – major events such as the Industrial Revolution and the World Wars created major shifts in the way business was done, and more recent events such as the Global Financial Crisis, continue this pattern throughout global societies.
Globalisation, political instability, constant advances in technology, the evolution of social media, and even natural disasters all continue to cascade down to the organisational level and force huge amounts of change that we must deal with.
Why are organisations becoming more focussed on change?
Whatever the term your organisation uses, an effective way of embedding change processes and encouraging innovation and constant improvement, is setting industry leaders apart from those who still see this as a ‘nice to have’ management strategy.
Projects are now not only measured by the traditional ‘on time and within budget’ indicator, but also by how effective the change was and the impact on employees, customers, and clients. A well-received project with sustainable benefits, but delivered late, is increasingly seen as successful over an unpopular project delivered that cut financial corners. In the long-term, those savings will be eaten up by a multitude of losses such as talent attrition, loss of customers, inferior services delivered etc.
What’s next for change?
Prosci’s 2013 benchmarking study on the way change has evolved throughout history predicted that for the coming five years, organisations would experience:
- A continued formalisation, evolution and refinement of the profession
- a shift in focus from project-by-project application toward building true organisational capabilities.
This certainly rings true with the work Asq Projects undertakes with clients – instead of offering one off consultations (which we can of course!) we know that longer term benefits are only realised for organisations when an effective culture that embraces organisational change is adopted – from the top down, and the bottom up.
A strategic differentiator, incorporating change management into every facet of a business can help organisations to not only deliver superior products and services to their customers (because they are agile and have the capabilities to respond to the market), but also become a sought after employer able to attract and retain the best talent to keep the success of the business projecting forward.