Change is easy!

Change is easy!

Stack of pebbles on a big rock at the beach.

Can change only be achieved with the right cultural approach or is leadership essential? Perhaps change is best implemented with action teams, for example? Change is obviously a both-and story, rather than an either-or choice. But, change is easy!

Here are the five basic elements to be taken into account to implement a successful change project:

  1. No change without vision, because determining where you are headed and why is essential. It is the key to assess the change and it informs employees why the change is necessary. I have to change and I know why I have to change is one of the three drivers of change.
  2. No change without culture, because culture defines how to approach the change project. For example, in a culture operating as a well-oiled machine, change will be better managed as a project with clear objectives and proper planning. In a network organisation, however, the emphasis will not be on project management at all. There change emerges: managers in this type of environment will understand that conflict is essential to achieve change. In a network culture, the focus is clearly less on managing a project and more on offering employees the resources to succeed. We currently have identified 59 change methods. The method to use must be appropriate for the change objective and corporate culture. This is the key to encourage employees to say: I want to change.
  3. Leadership is a basic requirement that is in line with corporate culture. Leadership also contributes to ‘I want to change’. It is obvious and goes without saying that leadership is instrumental and essential in order to achieve successful change. What is important here is that leadership is determined by culture (in an M&A the desired, common culture). In a network organisation, leadership will be more like coaching in order to be efficient. In a political organisational culture, a powerful leader will be required to make things happen and the leader will have to work towards developing coalitions.
  4. A result-oriented action plan, coaching and motivation. Intrinsic motivation is obtained more by action than by the carrot and stick approach. The action should focus on results and should be coached. The necessary resources must be made available. Results must be rewarded and/or recognised.
  5. Feedback system and (change) strategy monitoring and adjustment. Change is not project management! All emerging elements must be taken into account. In order to succeed, you must always listen or set up a system to assess what is happening and accept that adjustments are inevitable after a while. At this stage it is also important to institutionalise success across policies, systems and structures.

Items 4 and 5 are obviously related to I can change.

Of course these conditions do not apply to an economic change (Harvard) that strives towards value for shareholders. This type of change is a strategic decision and is implemented from the top down.

Also define what is not changing.

Change should only be implemented to those elements that need to change. A proper definition of the change project’s scope and priorities is very important in this respect. We cannot emphasise enough that defining what is not changing and what has already been decided is just as important. For example, if it is very likely that the ERP of company A will be chosen in an M&A, this must be indicated immediately. Insufficient focus and an unclear indication of what is within the scope are unnecessary complications and threats to the desired change.

Communication, communication, communication.

You can’t have too much communication in a change project. Change is announced from the top down, but is then implemented in all directions. Communication is a critical success factor in this regard.

And last but not least… never call a change project a change project, as this will only result in unnecessary resistance.