The New Change Managers

Last week something amazing happened in my Lean Change Agent workshop in Berlin. 18 agents of change gathered to explore ideas for how to better introduce and manage change in today’s world.

Given the audience for this workshop is always diverse, I use the LCM Cycle to run the class. That is, I collect pre-workshop information (Insights) to come up with Options to run the course. Sometimes new Experiments present themselves, and I plan new ones, or the class invents them on the fly.

We talked about more effective ways to measure change and I gave the class Options…well, choices anyway!

  1. Run a 30-minute exercise that was “in the plan” so we can go deep into measurements
  2. Move on to the next block of the course

I explained the Decider protocol and also briefly explained the importance of deciding how to decide when it comes to implementing change. 17 people voted in favour of moving on, one was opposed to moving on.

We asked him why, and he explained that learning about different measurements was one of the main reasons he came to the workshop.

Then the amazing thing happened!

Someone suggested we do a speed-round of metrics, specifically for that one person.

And everyone agreed!

He took the stage and the group spent 4 minutes helping him find leading, lagging, qualitative and quantitative measurements that he could take back and explore.

IMG_5313 (1)This was amazing to me because not one person said “oh, but majority rules!! You can’t be serious?!?! We’re giving in to one person at the expense of the whole group?!?!

The way the group handled this simply blew me away and it started a thought process about what it means to be a New Change Manager. Change Management is a relatively new profession. It’s only a few decades old, and is littered with binary thinkers. There are, however, a handful of people in the change management world who understand the difference between project management and change management.  In fact, I saw Daryl Conner speak a couple of years ago about how people in the change world need to love bringing meaningful change into the lives of people or get off the path.

The New Change Managers are people who get that change has always been, and will always be, about people. It’s about helping people enjoy their work. It’s not about updating a Gantt chart and managing a budget and a schedule for a transformation project. It’s not about being a methodology bigot or clinging to a false belief that you can ‘ensure successful change‘.

The New Change Managers are the people who know how to feel their way through change. They’re the ones with a strong sense of self-awareness who understand the change isn’t about them, it’s about the people who need to ultimately live with the consequences of that change.

How Do We Get There?

There are two simple, but not easy, things today’s leaders can do in order to grow New Change Managers:

  1. Stop running change initiatives like projects: This does nothing more than create false urgency. Urgency for change emerges over time and the urgency the change manager feels is simply to meet a schedule. That isn’t urgency to change.
  2. Stop using archaic performance management practices to measure the effectiveness of your change managers: This creates a similar false urgency as #1 but takes it a step further. It separates leaders in the organization from the reality of what’s really going on. When change managers know their performance is measured by successfully implementing change, I can damn well guarantee the status report will be green and little change will have happened.

It may take a couple more decades for New Change Managers to weed out the project managers and methodology bigots but it will happen. The world is changing constantly and the emphasis on helping workers be happy and engagement isn’t going to slow down.

But don’t take my word for it, I’m relatively new to the ‘change management’ world. Take Daryl’s word for it.

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