“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin
It is not sexy. It is a bit like the minivan that we purchased after my children were born. Of course, I wanted a sleek sports car. However, we needed a van with 100 cup holders, enough seats to transport a small army, and industrial-grade airbags to keep everyone safe. That is kind of what change management is. It is the process that you need to ensure that your project has the right people on board and arrives safely. Although it is not shiny and exciting, change management often gets overlooked – and that is a big mistake.
Business leaders regularly express that their organizations need to change and adapt very quickly to market trends yet many of those same business leaders don’t take the time to plan and execute changes well. However, today, I am going to give them – and you – the tools to bring change management front and center, and make it sexy in the process.
The first step to preparing an effective change management plan is to get selective amnesia on this one item. Completely wipe your memory banks clear of what you think change management is. If we were being quizzed and asked what its definition is, most of us would very eloquently say something like, “Well thank you for asking. change management is quite simply the act of managing change.” Umm… no, sorry. Try again! Change management is so much more than that! According to BusinessDictionary.com, change management is defined as ‘minimizing resistance to organizational change through the involvement of key players and stakeholders.’
That means it is not just about managing a project that will bring about a change in how you do business. Change management is the development of a process and a plan to not only bring about necessary change but also to include active procedures to negotiate the change with key stakeholders; to anticipate and minimize their resistance to the planned transformation in order for it to be successful. If you are anything like me, you probably don’t own a crystal ball, but you can totally put on your Sherlock Holmes coat and weird hat that he wears and do some detective work. Who are the key players? What are people saying about the proposed change? What, if any, compromises may need to be made?
Paul Kesler, PMP, CSM, SSBB, is an experienced project and program manager with industry experience in Software Publishing, Payment Solutions, Financial Services and Receivables Management industries. His experience includes leading business strategy execution, working with C-Level and Senior leaders of various business lines to meet company annual goals and objectives. Paul is comfortable leading business projects like Go To Market launches of new cloud products and leading technology implementations and integrations such as Salesforce. He is also an active member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and the Project Management Institute (Atlanta Chapter). Paul writes about change management.