Capability Insights Consulting



Just What is the First Step to Managing Change?

Posted on April 26, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Almost all management of change approaches or methodologies talk about building understanding as the first step in managing change. While true, management of change is part of a bigger picture. The first step in successfully managing change is knowing what the change is and why you have to make it. That places management of the change properly in the context of managing your business.


It is very difficult to build understanding in others or to articulate effective change messages unless and until you and your leadership team have a clear view of:

  • The factors driving the need for change. These could be internal needs or external drivers. Can you describe the rationale behind the change?
  • The risks of not changing. Can you articulate what would happen if nothing changed?
  • What needs to be changed. Can you succinctly state what aspects of the business need to change? Have you looked at interrelationships between business processes, people and leadership to ensure you have nailed the scope of the change?
  • When the change needs to happen. Can you articulate the urgency or timeframe? Does that timeframe make sense when lined up against the drivers and the risks of not changing?

Many sales organizations talk about having the elevator pitch for whatever they are selling. That’s a great concept to borrow for communicating and advocating for your change effort. Good elevator pitches come from having a solid understanding of the opportunity/product/service, or in this case the change.


More importantly, if you have the answers to the questions above you are well positioned to build understanding of the change across the organization (be that an area, a department or an entire company).


But let’s take a step back. You may be asking why you need to manage change at all. You know what’s needed and why, there is very likely some urgency to getting things moving. You are so ready to move into detailed planning and implementation! And there’s the problem. You and perhaps your leadership team may be ready. But the rest of the organization is not there with you. Yet.


Improperly managed change often results in:

  • Resistance. That translates to the change taking longer and being more work.
  • Improperly used new business processes or practices. That translates to less benefit than planned and typically lower productivity. Worse, the risks of not changing may not have been avoided.
  • Turnover. Some turnover may be planned and necessary to affect the change. Badly managed change results in turnover you did not plan for and may not want.

Properly managing change is not just about ensuring the absence of the negative. It is also about getting things done and getting them done in a manner that builds the organization's change capability and makes future evolution that much easier.


So, the very first step in managing change is actually doing all the good disciplines of business management that leads to your understanding of the change. Then you can start to share that understanding with others.




Categories: management of change, leadership

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In