Archive for Facets and Faces of Change

Today I was pFear graphicondering the concept of Hope.

What does it mean to be hopeful?  How do we build hope in ourselves?  How do we build hope in others?

Why Hope on a blog about Change?

Because Hope can be a is a critical part of Change.  Both personally and professionally.  We must Hope for a different outcome, Hope for a different experience, Hope for a different result.  In order to Believe that Change is possible, we must have Hope.

As I pondered Hope further, I recalled a definition I once heard of Fear.

Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real

This made me think that it’s time we come up with a definition for Hope.  What came to mind was the following.

Hope = Having Optimistic Periods Everyday

To me the critical part of Hope was that we do not have to be optimistic all the time to have Hope.  After all, few of us are truly Pollyannas who continually exude Happy Happy Joy Joy.

This definition simply means that we need to find a bit of time each day to focus on the positive.  To look at the glass as half full rather than half empty at least once a day.  To have just a bit of belief that things can be better than they are.  If we have that belief, even if just for a few minutes at a time, then we have Hope.

That’s what Hope is.  A belief.  As long as we can grasp that flicker of light in that sometimes dark tunnel, we have Hope.

My wish for you today is that you let go of Fear, recognizing that is is often based on false evidence.  Look for that glimmer of light.  Find the bright spot and focus on it for a change rather than the dark.  Bring a bit of Hope to your day.

A bit of Hope can make the Happy Happy Joy Joy a bit easier to both feel internally and exude externally.

Here’s to Hope, Joy, and a bit of Happiness.  What do you think?




Driving Successful Change by Engaging the Entire Person

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Most change programs use tools and tactics which focus on building knowledge and skills.  Telling people what they need to do and providing resources and training to execute those activities.  While this is a great start, focusing on only those two elements (what I call the Head and the Hands) misses a crucial element of total engagement and long-term support, the Heart. 

How might your project soar if you focused on more ways to get to the heart of the matter?

How might your project soar if you focused on more ways to get to the heart of the matter?

In business settings we are often uncomfortable (a feeling) discussing emotions and how they are affecting the employees.  But they are part of every human being.  They drive both decision making and behaviors, whether we are conscious of this or not.  To truly drive effective change, you need to engage the Heart, where our motivation comes from.  Simply knowing something isn’t enough to drive people to make lasting behavior changes; they need to be emotionally engaged.  

I call this the Head-Heart-Hands model. 

Individuals need to be:

  • Ready … to take on the changes and accept the new way of thinking and / or behaving
  • Willing … to visibly sponsor and promote changes as the right thing to do
  • Able … to perform in the new manner, with the new processes, tools, and applications

It is critical to recognize the importance each of these components and build change programs and activities to support all aspects.  A change effort is most successful when you engage the entire person, their Head, Heart, and Hands.

I’ll close with a few items for you to ponder:

  • When was the last time you had a conversation at work about emotions?
  • How do you factor emotions into planning your change programs?
  • For change programs which were less successful was something left out? 
  • For change programs that were highly successful, were all elements included?
  • What actions can you take to actively engage the Heart, the emotions?  
  • When you as an individual believe you have been “heard”, how do you feel?  How motivated are you? 

I like to be treated like a whole person.  Don’t you?

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Nuts and Bolts of Change: A Few Simple Rules and Reminders

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You can build something with a few nuts and bolts…

Recently a colleague of mine made a comment that with all the changes going on in her organization she needed to learn more about Change Management.  In an effort to help, I dashed off a quick note with a few things to bear in mind when dealing with change.  To me, while there are many theories, approaches, methods, and tools, for every day needs we can really boil things down to a few “nuts and bolts.”  Rules and Reminders that if we all kept these in mind, would make things run a bit smoother.

  1. We all have only so much capacity
  2. Inform, don’t overwhelm
  3. Engage, don’t dictate
  4. Focus on the right problems
  5. Provide support
  6. Listen
  7. Less can be more
  8. Treat people with respect, as we would want to be treated
  9. Sh** happens (deal with it as best you can and then move on/let it go)

These really are the fundamental nuts and bolts.  Each can be unpacked in detail and explored in depth with theories, psychological profiles and all the rest.  But does the “every day person” really have time and mental capacity?  Do they need to know the details (see rule #7)?  Yes, there are times to employ a Change Professional but there are also fundamentals that it would benefit the whole if each and every person in an organization could bear in mind.

As I pondered some more on this topic, I realized that I have touched upon these themes before:

I’m sure if I looked further in my Archieves I would find these themes time and time again. 

Hope this short list helps.  What other Nuts and Bolts can you share?

My thanks to Nancy, for getting my brain going. 

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5 Key Questions to Gain Insights

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Use these 5 Key Questions as a compass to direct you on the best way to expend your energy.

Today, it’s short a sweet.  5 Key Questions to ask:

  • Are we doing the right things?
  • Are we doing them the right way?
  • Are we getting them done well?
  • Are we getting the benefits?

When the answer to any of these questions is No, the next Key Question is

  • WHY

Sometimes, Why needs to be Why, Why, Why.  You need to dig to get to the root problems, issues, and causes, not just the surface symptoms.

Answering each of these questions will take a bit of time and analysis, but the insights can be invaluable.

When looking at personal issues, not business issues, all you need to do is replace the we with I…

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What is “Change Management”?

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Last year wrote two articles about what Change Management is to me.  Click here for a link back to my initial article and here for follow up article where I detailed the the breakdown of my definition.  As a refresher, here’s my definition:

Change Management (CM) is:

Moving individuals from where they currently are to where the business needs them to be.

Yep, just fifteen words.

If you are a “Change Management Practitioner,” you are likely aware that there are two emerging international associations representing change management.  The Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and the Change Management Institute (CMI).

The ACMP recently released this definition:

  • “ACMP defines change management to be the application of knowledge, skills, abilities, methodologies, processes, tools, and techniques to transition an individual or group from a current state to a desired future state, such that the desired outcomes and/or business objectives are achieved. Change management processes, when properly applied, ensure individuals within an organization efficiently and effectively transition through change such that the organization’s goals are realized. Change management is an integral part of the overall change process and ideally begins at the onset of change. ACMP’s definition assumes that the organization has agreed upon the need for change and has identified the nature of the change.”

The Change Management Institute (CMI) does not currently have a formal definition of Change Management, but instead offers a definition of a Change Management Practitioner:

  • “A Change Management Practitioner has mastery of the change principles, processes, behaviours and skills necessary to effectively identify, manage, initiate and influence change, and manage and support others through it.”

I don’t know about you, but I get a bit lost in the ACMP definition.  While useful, it isn’t something that you could easily state during a conversation with a client, potential client, or during a conversation.  I got lost in the details…

For myself, I’ll stick with my 15 word definition for now.  I’ve concluded that for me it is really that simple.  In part, it’s because I’ve been doing this work for over 20 years.  I don’t need the details embedded in my definition of WHAT it is.  

To recap, here’s my definition…

Change Management (CM) is:

Moving individuals from where they currently are to where the business needs them to be.

As a refresher for how my definition breaks down…

  • Moving – implies a state change.  It does not talk about the activities or the pace at which the change is done.  To me, those are decisions that are made during the architecting and designing stages of the program(s).
  • Individuals – implies that the program(s) are focused on individuals and their specific needs.  I believe that it is critical to think about the individual’s needs, not just about groups.  That does not mean that you cannot group similar people together. That each individual needs their own unique program.  What I mean is that you need to conduct your analysis at the individual level.  You must ask questions and consider issues from the individual’s viewpoint. Looking at their experiences, not your own or the sponsors.
  • Where they currently are – this is the current state.  As part of that current state, you need to understand the historical situation. Why do people think and behave as they currently do?  What past experiences and situations are the drivers for their behaviors? What are the barriers? What conclusions have they reached and why?  What are the underlying reasons that the current state exists – the ones that no one wants to talk about?  If you don’t understand the drivers, you may overlook critical factors such as social and cultural pressures that may cause the individuals to “norm” back to their current state after a program is executed.  I often think about the who, what, what if, when, where, why, why not, how, and how much questions.
  • Where the business needs them to be – this is the future state. In the end, it really is about what the business needs.  In my view, if the focus isn’t on the business needs, the program will miss the mark.  Yes, as part of the business needs, you do look at the groups and the individual actions and behaviors.  However, you need to look at them within the context of the end goal, the results needed by the business.  I like to ask why, why, why at this stage. Drilling down three levels using why can help uncover interesting and pertinent information.

The HOW of Change Management can be complex, exciting, and frustrating, all at once.  That’s what makes it so interesting for me.  It’s not about just following a formula, process, or checklist, it’s about really understanding at a deep level what the business is trying to accomplish, where the employees are, and how I can help them.

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I recently wrote about how far the Change Management profession has come in Change Management – It’s Come a Long Way Baby!.  Now it’s time for the “but” portion.  While we have come a long way, we have a ways to go yet.  In addition, I’ve seen several negative consequences from the steps we have taken.

“But” #1 – Change Management is much more than a set of tools and templates or a specific methodology.  These are good building block but they do not guarantee a solid delivery.

In the prior article I talked about the positive impact of the adoption of a set of CM tools.  The “but” is that I also observed large gaps in understanding change fundamentals.  I also observed significant gaps in execution ability. 

Change Management had been “dumbed down” to focus on Communications and Training.  Awareness had been built around the basic concept of Change Management.  What was missing was a solid understanding of the nuances of Change Management and the psychology, human behaviors, and neuroscience behind it.  There were also significant gaps in understanding when to engage practitioners and how to integrate them effectively into project teams. 

Yes, Communications and Training is a portion of Change Management but it that’s not all.  Yes, tools are helpful, but they don’t solve problems or drive change by themselves.

“But” #2 – Change Management practitioner is not a one size fits all title.  There are a myriad of different skill sets – from beginner to expert.  At this same client, individuals who had been through a 3-day Change Management training program were deemed ready to be “Change Management practitioners,” able to support all the organization’s Change Management needs.  While they certainly knew more than they did prior to the 3-day program, it wasn’t enough for them to be able to successfully drive the necessary changes. 

But what is Change Management?  I’ve been thinking about the analogy that good Change Management is like creating beautiful music. 

Tools, templates, and methodologies can be viewed as the notes and musical arrangements.  The practitioner as the player.  Individual practitioners translate the notes on the page into music for the listener to enjoy.  How they sound varies based on the instrument played and the skill of the individual playing. 

Some music players have basic training, know the process, and have some technical proficiency but lack artistry.  Some musicians may have a high level of artistry in their music without years of training.  For them, it’s an innate skill.  Others are skilled at more than one instrument. 

At my client, the individuals who had been “certified” had learned several musical scores, but did not the practice and experience that they needed to play with the Symphony. 

But how do you tell “good” Change Management?  Outstanding musicians don’t need the sheets of music in front of it – they know it.  That doesn’t mean that they never have the musical score up, but rather they know when they should have it up and when they don’t need it. 

Musical virtuosos not only play the notes on the page, they adjust it.  They make it “come alive” for those listening. 

To further this analogy, the same note, a middle C, sounds different not only based on the instrument played but also a variety of other factors.

The best artists have both form and function.  Lessons, practice, experience and artistry – some artistry taught while another portion innate.  They “feel it” and sense it.  They make adjustments as they play.  The make adjustments based on the instrument they are playing and the environment they are playing in (e.g., a room or music hall).  They move to different locations on the stage, sit or stand, and wear different attire depending on what emotions, messages, and originality they want to convey.  They adjust their playing based on who is listening, what they are playing, where they are playing, and why they are performing.

Those that are at the top of their game, the virtuosos, fine-tune their performance based all the factors above.  Each performance is unique, never to be duplicated.  It can’t be.  This variation is not bad, it simply is a result of both experience and the dynamics of the situation. 

Sometimes the differences are based on whether the artist is “on” that night or not.  Sometimes the differences are driven by external factors that the artist has no control over.  Cell phone interruption can’t be blamed on the performer…  All performances might be outstanding, but it is likely that some are slightly better than others.  Which was better often depend on the individual listening.

A single performance is heard and interpreted differently by the various audience members.  This variation comes from differences in expectations, their backgrounds, their individual musical ability and even their individual moods. 

It’s also about two sides of the situation – the person playing and the person listening.  A person who is tone deaf won’t notice the missed notes and errors as much as an individual with perfect pitch.

In conclusion…

Value how far we have come, but don’t but understand we have a long way to go. 

  • “Certification” does not mean the individual is a skill musician.  Notes and musical scores by themselves are simply not enough.  
  • Change Management practitioner is not a one size fits all title.  There are different levels of skills from beginner to virtuoso. 
  • Not everyone playing is an artist – some are just learning the notes. 

Great music is often difficult to describe, but you know it when you hear it.  The same goes for great Change Management practitioners and their efforts.  They might be on a street corner or playing in a music hall.  They might be chatting in Linked In or doing a large scale change effort.  You just know what you are hearing is great – it moves you in some way, connects you, brings your emotions out, and perhaps changes you in some way…hopefully for the better.   


The View From Where You Are…

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The differences in individuals’ unique viewpoints have been driven into my head several times recently – literally.  My literal “knocking on the noggin” made me pause to think about a more metaphorical view.  How differences in our viewpoint can lead us to different actions.

We have recently moved and things are in that “normal” state of total chaos.  Part of the chaos is working from makeshift furniture as you wait for the “real” furniture to arrive.  I’ve discovered that this wait has come with a bonus, and not a positive one.  What’s my bonus?  I keep knocking my head on a light fixture. 

This experience made me stop to think about why interventions sometimes work but sometimes don’t.

I’ve tried three interventions…but they aren’t working. 

1 – Several times I have placed a chair right under the light.  The intent is a physical barrier I must walk around.  It works for a bit, but the chair keeps moving…

2 – I’ve moved a table under the light.  Somehow the table keeps getting moved too…

3 – I remind myself that I need to remember the light is hanging down.  Hum, brain must be full or the information getting knocked back out because just reminding myself to watch out for the light fixture hasn’t stopped the knots from accumulating on my head.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem for anyone but me… 

Hum, what is their viewpoint I wonder?  How might it differ from mine?

  • For Skyler and Sydney, it’s above their head.  They never think twice about it. 
  • For Bruce, it’s in his line of sight.  He simply walks around. 
  • For myself, it seems to be just out of my visual line of sight, but clearly not out of the physical realm.   I’m the only one experiencing the problem.

During my analysis, I determined two root causes for failure.

1 – I didn’t involve others in my intervention…

It’s not that the chair moved itself, a person moved it.  Bruce had no idea why there being a lone chair in the middle of the room, so he kept moving it where he percieved it to be “out of the way”. 

How often do we institute an intervention but forget to communicate with key individuals that impact our intervention?  In this case, I sure did.  Why didn’t I?  I thought it would be obvious why the chair kept being placed under the light fixture.  Clearly it wasn’t.

2 – I wasn’t solving the problem in the right way…

My third intervention, reminding myself about the light fixture hanging down clearly isn’t working.  The lumps on my head are proof of that.  The multiple mental reminders clearly aren’t enough to fix the problem.  I don’t think about this at the point of need – before I run into the lamp.

Do we need to change our viewpoint more often?

The 5th time I whacked my head I finally stopped to assess the situation a bit deeper.  One of the outcomes of that analysis is this article.

I asked myself how often do we just look at situations from our own viewpoint.  Might we feel that the problem is so obvious that we don’t need to communicate the issue to others?  Then we wonder why others aren’t lining up to agree “yes, that’s a problem”. 

The answer is clear.  They aren’t lining up with our solutions and interventions because the issue/problem is not an issue/problem for them!  It certainly was the case in my example of the light fixture meets the “noggin”. 

Others may naturally go under, around, or above what we keep running into (physically and/or metaphorically).  Why would they see a need to fix or change something if it isn’t a problem for them?  It’s not that they wouldn’t support our needs, they simply may not be aware of what support we need (aka leave the chair in the middle of the room please).  The problem is we haven’t communicated with them – sharing our needs and intentions.

The Lessons Learned…

  • Remember to check the viewpoint from multiple angles.
  • Don’t make assumptions – others may not see or experience what you are.
  • Check to make sure you are solving the right problem.
  • Understand both short-term and long-term solutions. 
  • Communicate.
  • Duck, when walking near that darn chandelier.  It’s heavy and I have enough lumps on my head!
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Do you only focus on the mountians ahead or have you stopped to look backwards?

I participated on in a Change Management Quarterly Networking meeting at my client site today.  Yes, they have formal quarterly CM meetings.  They have also formally adopted a change methodology and are rolling it out across multiple levels of their organization.

As I was listening to the speakers talk about their methodology, raising awareness in their target groups, the importance of communication, as well as the needs of various stakeholder groups I thought, wow, how far we have come.

I started formally working in the Change Management arena in 1989.  I was hired into a group within Andersen Consulting (who went on to become the Accenture half of Andersen, not the other, now defunct organization) known as Change Management Services or CMS for short.  In fact, I worked on part of our Change Management methodology back in the early 90’s.  At that time we broke change into three major areas, each with their own unique methodology:  Knowledge Transfer, Organizational Change, and Technology Adoption.

I remember the biggest challenge back then was educating clients about what this “new” concept of Change Management was.  Yes, client education still exists, but you typically no longer feel like you are completely talking a foreign language.  You might have to explain that no, it’s not the same as Change Controls, but nothing in life is perfect.

Yes, I do realize that many of the CM concepts have been in existence for longer than the late 80s, but it seems like the “movement” of formalizing around this concept of Change Management and making it more broadly acceptable really started in then.  Today I observe individuals arguing more about the nuances of it than about the need for it.

I was thinking today that we really do need to give credit to Prosci, their ADKAR methodology, and their work to create a Change Management conference.  While I know that not everyone agrees with their approach (I’ve observed some fairly rabid conversations on this topic), you must give them credit for helping to standardize concepts and mainstream terminology.

I also give significant credit to Daryl Conner and his organization, Conner Partners.  I remember when his book Managing at the Speed of Change came out.  It impacted Andersen Consulting/Accenture’s change methodology in numerous ways.  Daryl has done some great research.  He’s also been doing a great job of sharing information through his blog, Change Thinking

So what’s the purpose of this blog?  It’s simply a reminder to stop and appreciate how far we have come.  Sometimes what we need to accomplish to help our clients seems like a huge challenge.  Rather than focusing on how far we still feel like we need to roll that boulder up the hill, take a pause, breath, look back and see how far you have already come.  We really have come a long way baby.

Do you want to drive positive changes around you?  Can one person really make a difference?  Absolutely.  A greater difference than than you might think!

Yesterday I was interviewed for a BlogTalk Radio Show by Heather Stagl of Enclaria.  During the interview we discuss my own personal Change Revolution, how to start a revolution, courage, fear, and other related topics. 

Why does change require courage?  Change is hard!  You might need to rock the boat, rattle a few cages, or eh gads, talk about the elephant (or elephants) in the room!  You need to stand up and be counted.  You need to be open and honest.  You might need to go against convention and cultural norms.  But there may be others just waiting for someone to take the lead.  Can you be that leader?
Is there something that is really bothering you?  Is it something that you can control or do something you need to let it go in order to focus your energy in other, more productive ways?  Might it be something you can start your own revolution about?  Unsure?  Here’s some questions to help think you think about whether to start your own revolution:
  • Do I really care?
  • Why do I care?
  • How can I have an influence on this?
  • What action can I take?
  • What outcome am I looking for?
Did you know that fear can be False Expectations Appearing Real?  Can you let your fear go?  Can you redirect this energy into a more positive direction?

Each day you get a fresh start to decide how you want to approach life and your interactions with those around you.  How do you want to behave today? 

Do you have the knowledge in your head and the belief in your heart that you can make a difference?  You absolutely can.  One person, one interaction at a time.
Want to make changes but need some help?  If you would like help working through your challenges, driving your individual or business changes, drop me a line.  I’d love to help you either change yourself, change your business, or drive your own Change Revolution.  I can provide individual coaching and support as well as spearhead organizational and strategic change efforts.  After all, that is what my own personal revolution is about…driving positive changes in the world around me.   One person, one project at a time. 

The Value of Nature

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Need to go with the flow? Nurture yourself with a little Nature.

Do you feel the onset of burnout coming?  Do you want to refresh and renew yourself?  Feel like you need a vacation but don’t have the time and money for one?  Think small, not big.

Often we are moving so fast we don’t realize how much time we are spending inside buildings.  Our minds and bodies need to periodically visit the world outdoors. 

Connecting with nature – simply letting the sun shine on your face, listening to the birds, listening to the flow of water through a stream, dam or waterfall can be wonderfully refreshing. 

Even small things like packing a lunch and sitting on a park bench rather than inside a restaurant can be a boost to both your body and your mind.

Yes, a trip to the spa might be fun, but you can often get the same sense of peace and restfulness from a park.  Plus, it costs a lot less!

My challenge to you is to find those small pockets of time in your schedule to take yourself outdoors.  It can be something as simple as stopping at a park for just 15 minutes on your way home.  Do you have a deck or patio?  If so, when is the last time you had dinner outside?  Try it, you just might like it.

Have a story to share about how you’ve found little pockets of time to let Nature provide a little Nurture for your mind, heart, and spirit?  Click that comment button to share.  Love to hear from you!

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Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes