What every change agent needs to know about change

When it comes to managing any type of organisational change there is usually a focus on the plan.  And yet, how often do things go according to plan?

There is a huge elephant in the room when it comes to managing workplace change:  people are unpredictable.   And yet many processes and models of change work on the assumption that organisations are like machines.  If you create a plan then everything will be plain sailing.  Except that organisations aren’t machines they’re made up of people:  living, breathing systems far removed from machines.

It was with this in mind that I booked on to a Lean Change Management workshop.  I had already been exposed to some Lean tools and was a fan of Deming et al, so I kind of knew what to expect.  I was excited to find out more about what I instinctively knew about change:  that’s it’s an iterative process and can sometimes be messy and often goes off plan.

However, nothing could prepare me for what I learnt in the two days under Jason Little’s guidance leanchange.org.  Lean takes plan, do, check, act and morphs it into something nimble and elegant:  insights, options and experiments – that you prepare, introduce and review.  By thinking of change initiatives as experiments it opens up the organisation to seeing change as opportunities for improvement and growth.   A perfect growth mindset vehicle.

Co-created change can sometimes be confronting because it goes against our natural driver for certainty and control.  By introducing experiments it places that driver under pressure.  Lean Change Management creates certainty by giving you a process to allow the experimentation and create a living canvas that encapsulates the plan v1.0.  In other words it’s not free form but it is flexible.   Because it’s co-created it places emphasis on feedback – both from the people experiencing the change and from the change system itself.

Any type of change requires persistence, hard work and most important of all, humility.   An experimental mindset that encourages and supports change is preferable to a plan ‘done to’ people that at best ticks boxes and at worst creates resistance.

Co-creating change comes naturally to coaches and applying this co-creation approach to organisational change makes absolute sense.  And what makes Lean Change even better is that you can bring all the resources you have already and make them systematic.  Lean change management may not be the answer to all your wishes but it comes pretty close.

Copyright  Ro Gorell 2015 – This post originally appeared on Linked In Pulse


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