If organisations want to compete and thrive in today's fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape - change is not only inevitable but essential.
Change strategies are crucial in various scenarios, including when an organisation suffers from market disruptions, significant growth, or restructuring. Other common examples are businesses that want to foster new culture, enhance employee engagement, promote diversity and inclusion, or address performance issues like declining profitability, or decreased customer satisfaction.
However, the reality is that traditional top-down change management approaches that have been around since the 1920’s fall short in the face of ongoing change. Astonishingly, change initiatives fail more often than projects do, change initiatives fail about 80% of the time.
And yet I have found that companies invest a lot of time and money trying to figure out which method or methodology to use for their teams which is not going to solve the problem. Choosing one over another isn’t as important as following through with the correct change implementation. In other words, introducing the new methodology correctly is as important, if not more so, than the methodology itself. This is because change in an organisation is often met with resistance from the people within.
A disruption to the status quo and fear of change causes understandable anxiety, so selecting the right Agile method isn't the game-changer; doing a method well is. It's time to shift our focus from debating traditional change management styles that fall short in an era of constant change, to ensuring they are executed effectively.
I believe that the challenge of revolutionising the change management landscape and helping organisations navigate the transition lies in creating just enough waves. This is where i look towards alternative Agile methods like Kanban and Flight Levels to help create these waves and empower organisations to respond quickly to market shifts. Agile thinking encourages teams to adapt strategies based on real-time feedback, fostering collaboration and innovation. By promoting a culture of responsiveness, organisations can capitalise on emerging opportunities and mitigate potential risks, leading to a more steady and consistent change.
To effectively create and manage these change waves within teams and organisations, I follow the following four steps:
Fostering a culture of change: Leaders must proactively encourage a culture that embraces change and innovation. By creating channels for open communication and actively seeking input from employees at all levels, organisations can empower their workforce to contribute ideas and suggestions, fostering a sense of ownership, responsibility, and engagement.
Provide a clear vision and direction: Change initiatives often encounter resistance due to past experiences. To overcome these challenges, leaders must address concerns openly and transparently. Effective communication is key to building trust and engagement among employees. Leaders should clearly communicate the intentions, goals, and expected outcomes of the change strategy while managing expectations realistically. By nurturing a culture of open dialogue and acknowledging past missteps, organisations can rebuild confidence and commitment among employees, ensuring a more successful change journey.
Recognise that one size does not fit all: Organisations should adopt a flexible approach that combines different change management methods and techniques. By leveraging the strengths of varying methodologies, they can tailor their change strategies to fit their unique context. This hybrid approach allows for the integration of best practices while considering the specific needs and challenges of the organisation. It encourages teams to evolve and continuously improve their processes, promoting long-term change and growth.
Continuous support and training: Managing change is an ongoing process that requires ongoing evaluation, adjustment, and communication to ensure lasting and positive outcomes. By investing in employee development and providing necessary training, guidance, and coaching, organisations enable their workforce to acquire the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the evolving business landscape.
Even though the thought of embracing and then maintaining lasting change can be daunting, burying your organisational “head” in the sand and neglecting the need for change is even more terrifying.
An organisation that chooses to ignore the importance of effective lasting change will essentially cling onto outdated processes, systems, and practices, which can lead to inefficiencies and a decline in business performance. Organisations that want to not just survive, but thrive, must adapt, innovate, and respond swiftly to evolving market dynamics.