I’ve just finished reading an exciting detective story. It was quite a ‘page turner’ and I couldn’t wait to find out who the murderer was. I skimmed over some of the longer passages, skipped others and read ahead to the last few lines of a couple of chapters, desperate to get to the end as soon as I could and find out ‘whodunnit’.
Later on, when I was trying to persuade a friend to read it, I couldn’t remember much of the detail nor could I explain the story very well. Frustrated by my inability to explain why it was such a great read I was left feeling a bit disappointed – not with the story itself which was great – but with the way I’d gone about reading it. I felt I’d missed out somehow. As I mulled this over, it occurred to me that there were a number of parallels with the way we should manage change within organisations.
1. The objectives behind any change need to be clear, fully understood and agreed. What, precisely, are we trying to achieve? This applies not only to those directly affected by the change but also to those of us responsible for its design, communication and implementation. It may sound obvious, but without this clarity the outcomes we get may not be the ones we expected or wanted.
2. The communication of any change needs to be faultless. Exactly what this looks like will depend to an extent upon our organisation’s culture but we must carefully consider aspects such as how, to whom, when, where, by whom etc. Effective change will frequently stand or fall by the way we communicate it and no element should be skipped over, left out or left to chance.
3. We need to anticipate the impact of the change in the broadest sense i.e. in terms both of the desired and undesired results. When this happens, we can engage in better planning and management and so increase the likelihood the change will be effective.
4. We need to pay sufficient attention to embedding the change within the organisation. All too often we fall short in this regard. We meet the timescales required to communicate, but then put insufficient time and effort into making sure each member of our staff really understands the impact and what is expected of them. By putting greater emphasis on one aspect to the detriment of others, we reduce our chances of success.
So as I start my next ‘page turner’ I‘m taking a different approach, safe in the knowledge that by doing so I will get to a different and better outcome.