Three Essential Approaches to Managing Change

There are an infinite variety of changes and a large number of change management methodologies. However, once you cut through the jargon of specific methodologies, there are essentially three main ways to approach change:

Change as a Project

Change projects go through three main phases. Firstly, there is a start-up phase when the deliverables are agreed and resources are allocated for the project. Next comes a design and development phase when the deliverables are created. Finally, there is an implementation phase when the deliverables are applied to the organisation.

The approach to achieving change as a project requires a change team. This team, working outside of normal daily operations of the organisation, budgets and plans the change and identifies the deliverables. The deliverables are then created or developed.

Change via Task Forces

A task force is a group of people, usually from the staff within your organisation, who are asked to focus on improving some aspect of performance. Task forces can initiate projects, and projects may contain task forces. A task force is normally defined in terms of a performance improvement that has to be achieved in a certain time.

Task forces come under different names such as hit squads or performance improvement teams. The primary advantage of a task force is flexibility and rapid action. The primary advantage of a project is the very structured management of a complex series of tasks and the reduction of the associated risk of failure. The primary risk in task forces is that approaches may not be found to achieve the required performance improvement. The primary risks in projects are that the deliverables may not achieve the desired objective or the deliverables may not be created in the planned time or cost.

Task force members may work full time on the particular change, but normally the task force consists of staff who allocate a proportion of their time to the work.

Task forces are most useful in delivering inter-functional change where the end point is known, but the way to achieve it is not. Often there is not one factor causing the current levels of performance, but a complex interaction of many factors.

Embedded Change

Embedded change can also be called continuous performance improvement. Embedded change is about staff performing their normal role, making ongoing adaptations to any component of their work and improving performance over time.

Embedded change requires staff to have the motivation, decision-making authority and capability to make changes in the way they work on a daily basis. Embedded change is closely associated with the ideas of quality management and empowered staff. Although the cumulative impact of embedded change can be huge, every individual modification is normally a small tweak to a process or procedure.

If you’d like to learn more, download our eBook, ‘Managing Change: The Basics’ (link).

 

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