Change Management: how to do it?
“This is why a man’s fortunes can change: because times change, but his approach does not change”
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), The Prince.
People and organizations are creatures of habit and changing habits is much more difficult than changing structures or systems. However, company-wide changes are becoming increasingly necessary for several reasons:
- new technological solutions become available on the market at an ever increasing speed. These solutions very often lead to a series of competitive advantages such as higher productivity and higher product / service quality. Who first adopts the new technologies, first enjoys these benefits;
- globalization puts us in competition with culturally different realities, often more prepared to face new challenges. Therefore it becomes essential to keep up with new trends
- unpredictable events (see COVID-19) force us to rethink our approaches and adapt quickly to new scenarios.
Most change management initiatives continue to focus almost exclusively on the operational and technical side and too often ignore the human or behavioral side of change.
If you’ve ever tried to make changes or implement improvement initiatives in a non-receptive culture, you’ll know it’s like trying to swim against the tide – you put in a lot of effort but don’t make much progress.
The fear of making mistakes
“Failure is not an option”
This is the tag line of the 1995 Apollo 13 movie. It is uttered by Ed Harris, who played Gene Kranz:
“We have never lost an American in space and for sure we will not lose one while I am here. Failure is not contemplated!“
How many times in our private life or in our daily activity have we said to ourselves “what if I fail?”. Failure is scary and undermines our self-esteem. The problem is that, due to this attitude or culture, it becomes very difficult to try to do something new, sometimes unconventional, sometimes just a little more innovative. Therefore, we all tend to remain silent in our comfort zone and avoid risks. Innovative projects are inherently risky.
“There’s a silly idea at NASA, that failure isn’t an option. Failure is an option here. If things don’t fail, you’re not innovating enough.”
All these aspects play a fundamental role in a project with a high innovative content such as the implementation of a Smart Factory: we must therefore be willing to change our point of view, to approach in a different way, to manage critical issues and consequently accept potential failures that could be revealed.
Tips for implementing change
- Establishing a Sense of Urgency: Do We Really Need to Change? For example, if we work in a financially healthy company, it becomes difficult to answer yes: after all, what has been achieved is the result of what has been done so far, therefore it may seem incorrect to change. “A winning team does not change” they say in sport. But are we sure it will always be like this? What strategies will our competitors implement to undermine our (if any) leadership position? It therefore becomes necessary to constantly analyze the market, discuss potential crises, or simply identify opportunities not yet exploited to strengthen our positioning in the market;
- Creating the Leading Coalition: Once a sense of urgency has been established, you need to put together a team made up of corporate figures with a certain power to lead change;
- Developing a vision and a strategy: the team will then have to develop a vision of change and articulate an adequate strategy for its implementation;
- Communicating the vision of change: If the vision is not communicated effectively and frequently, its implementation becomes difficult if not impossible. It is therefore necessary to include in your strategy every possible means to communicate the vision of change. Furthermore, it is necessary to implement a behavior model that inspires employees to identify and develop new ideas also with the help of incentives (for example for each idea accepted by the leading coalition, or for each idea that leads to the generation of a patent);
- Extending the consensus of change: in the process of change the team will face a series of obstacles, often even only bureaucratic, regulatory or cultural. It is the leadership’s job to take charge of removing these obstacles that limit risk-taking and the development of non-traditional ideas, activities and actions;
- Generating short-term wins: You need to support the efforts needed to implement the change by planning visible changes in terms of performance, the so-called “wins”. In fact, a team that works hard to achieve a goal will easily be disheartened if they don’t see a benefit in the short term. In addition, it is advisable to publicly recognize and reward the people who made these victories possible, so that they become inspiration for others;
- Consolidating what has been achieved and generate further change: victories must generate other victories, the improvements obtained in a particular area will therefore be extended to other business areas, especially in those environments or structures where change does not find fertile ground due to a conservative culture . This can be achieved by promoting the people who until now have generated the victories obtained by elevating them to the role of leader;
- Anchoring the new approaches in the corporate culture: all these victories will eventually have to create the basis for penetrating the corporate culture, for example, through the formulation of new customer-oriented procedures and behaviors, the extension of leadership on a broader basis and a more effective processes based on lessons learned. Finally, vision needs to be sustained by linking new behaviors to present and future organizational success, while ensuring leadership succession.
Where to start?
In this post we have briefly described the importance of implementing change management within the company to face new future challenges and ensure success by facing the increasingly global and fierce competition.
We have therefore described an 8-step process suggested by Professor Kotter to help company management manage change processes effectively and sustainably.
In this sense, Accialini Training & Consulting is able to provide the necessary support to implement change management processes. In particular, our Leadership Programme PowerskillsON helps to form a leadership capable of effectively guiding change. On the other hand, if you need to introduce technological changes within your company you need to implement a structured approach to innovation management, we invite you to take a look at the dedicated services.
For more information, contact us to discuss your needs together in detail.