Which statement best describes change management?
- Change management is people-driven
- Change management is data-driven
- Change management is strategic
- Change management is a process
Each statement reflects a different viewpoint about change management … a different philosophy about how to approach change.
Below, we’ll explore each viewpoint, then explain the best way to view this business discipline.
Which Statement Best Describes Change Management?
Is change management driven by people?
Or by processes? Or by technology and data?
These questions are really asking whether change management is a “hard” or a “soft” discipline.
As you read through the statements and descriptions below, ask yourself…
“Which statement best describes change management?”
Change Management Is People-Driven
Many change management professionals focus on the “people side of change.”
In fact, many claim that change management itself is a human-centric discipline.
And in many ways this is true:
- Organizations are operated by employees, so their support is necessary to effect change
- Motivation directly impacts employee productivity and program results
- Culture, habit, inertia, and resistance can often be major obstacles to transformation
The experienced change manager understands this.
And this is why many change processes focus heavily on employee engagement.
Below, we will explore change management processes that revolve around group psychology, employee engagement, and employee motivation.
After all, the more engaged and motivated employees are, the more they will support a change program.
Change Management Is Data-Driven
Does data drive change?
It can, especially in today’s digital world.
The marketplace today fuels innovation, disruption, and digital transformation.
This technology-centric environment has also opened up new frontiers within change management.
- Business intelligence, competitive intelligence, and other forms of data insight can fuel change endeavors
- Data can help businesses optimize change programs as they occur
- Data science, machine learning, and deep learning can be used to predict the outcomes of change programs
Although change management is driven by humans, it would be unwise to ignore data.
Ultimately, data can offer insights that:
- Improve project success rates
- Boosts project objectives
- Increase program efficiency
While change managers do not need to become data scientists, they should find ways to work with data.
This can mean, for instance, hiring data scientists or working with data-savvy employees. Or it can mean working with third party vendors.
Regardless, change management approaches that utilize data and analytics will be more successful.
Change Management Is Strategic
Most change frameworks, change management groups, and theories of change emphasize the “people side of change.”
However, fundamentally, every organizational change is defined by business strategy.
Because a business is a profit-driven process, that business’s survival, growth, and strategy is paramount.
An organizational change may initiate from the front line of a business.
An employee may have an idea for an improvement, for instance. That idea then becomes a driver of change.
However, effective change management always views a change strategically – from the top down.
This means that change projects must support and align with:
- An organization’s mission
- Its growth strategy
- Marketplace positioning
- Long-term business goals
And so on.
In some cases, a change project may directly impact organizational strategy.
In others, it may not.
Regardless, every change project must align with the entire organization – both the people at the bottom and the strategic objectives at the top.
Change Management Is a Process
A change management framework lays out a specific, established process for managing change.
These processes have been tested, tried, and implemented for years, by organizations around the globe.
Some of the most well-known change models include:
- Kotter’s 8-Step Model for Change
- The Lewin Change Model
- Prosci’s ADKAR Model
These processes outline roadmaps – action plans – for organizational change.
The simplest process, Lewin’s model, involves three steps:
- Unfreeze – The previous status quo must be undone before any change can take place
- Transition – The transition period occurs during the change process, when the business is moving from point A to point B
- Re-Freeze – The third stage of change involves cementing, reinforcing, and making the new change permanent
The other change processes mentioned above follow similar approaches.
All of the Above
Ultimately – and as you may have guessed – change management is all of the above.
It is a cross-disciplinary field that is both “hard” and “soft.”
- Technology, analytics, and data
- Effective communication, training, and onboarding
- Organizational strategy
- Process-based planning
Among other things.
Ideally, change management will involve a mix of people who can each contribute to a change effort.
Though one person may manage and lead the effort, different specializations should be brought into the mix.
The above statements all do a good job of describing change management.
Each one highlights a different sub-specialty of the discipline.
Together, these statements can help us gain a better understanding of change management, its purpose, and how it works.
That perspective, in turn, can help businesses create change programs that are more effective, more accepted, and more successful.